In an error-filled game Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State and Baylor both made their fair share of miscues.
The No. 11 Bears just made fewer.
In a game in which both teams lost their starting quarterback, Baylor held off K-State, 20-10, to snap the Wildcats’ four-game win streak.
“Well, let’s congratulate (head) Coach (Dave) Aranda and Baylor,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “They played a really good football game and beat us at our own place, and I give those guys credit for making really good plays on both sides of the ball. They’re a physical team and they play really hard.”
Gerry Bohanon, the Bears’ first-team signal-caller, departed the game with less than a minute remaining in the first half, as he pulled up limp after picking up a first down with his feet.
His backup, redshirt freshman Blake Shapen, only had thrown three passes in his college career entering Saturday.
He looked like a seasoned veteran against K-State (7-4, 4-4 Big 12), though.
Shapen finished with a completion percentage of 76 (16-for-21) for 137 yards. He picked up 28 yards late in the third quarter that led to the contest’s final points — a 28-yard field goal from kicker Isaiah Hankins — and made it a two-possession game.
Skylar Thompson, the Wildcats’ sixth-year senior who has battled injuries throughout his time in Manhattan, left with the game with 4:04 remaining. He walked off the field with the help of team trainers.
On the next play, Jaren Lewis tossed an interception that clinched the Bears’ (9-2, 6-2) victory, their fourth straight in the series.
The injury added to what already was a forgettable night for Thompson, who barely completed 50% of his passes (15-for-29) for 158 yards and no touchdowns.
The exits of both starting signal-callers notwithstanding, Saturday was a matchup marred by mistakes.
The difference in the first quarter came in an area K-State usually excels: special teams.
After forcing the Baylor offense into a three-and-out on the contest’s opening possession, fourth-year junior receiver Phillip Brooks fumbled the ensuing punt. Baylor defensive back AJ McCarty jumped on the ball to give the visitors first-and-10 at K-State’s 24.
The Bears wasted no time capitalizing.
Five plays later, they crossed the goal line, as Trestan Ebner dashed in for a 6-yard touchdown at the 11:09 mark of the first quarter.
That marked the only points for either side in the opening period.
“We got behind early on the miscue and we went down 7-0, and just couldn’t get out of that hole,” Klieman said, “and struggled to get any rhythm offensively throughout the day.”
Another special teams error by K-State took center stage before Baylor’s next touchdown.
K-State punted away the ball to Ebner. He never caught the ball, as it skittered away and ended up in the Wildcats’ hands. But officials negated K-State’s fumble recovery; they ruled that Wildcat long snapper Randen Plattner interfered on Ebner’s attempted catch, giving Baylor the football at its own 26.
After the overturned call, a visibly irate Klieman argued with officiating crew. Afterward, he said officials gave him a brief explanation.
“Yeah, (the official) just said he felt like (Plattner) was too close to him,” Klieman said. “So that’s a judgment call.”
After the reversed call, Baylor orchestrated a methodical, seven-plus-minute scoring drive. The Bears drove 74 yards in 15 plays, capped by a 2-yard touchdown toss from Bohanon to Drake Dabney. After Hankins’ extra point, the Bears led 14-0 with 4:01 left in the half.
They initially carried that momentum into the subsequent possession, with their defense halting K-State in three plays. But on the K-State punt, Baylor lined up offsides. That penalty gave K-State a first down and the ball back.
Deuce Vaughn made the Bears pay for that mistake.
Given new life, Vaughn was in the end zone one play later, sprinting for a 65-yard score for the Wildcats’ first points of the night with 2:51 to go in the second quarter.
As is the case seemingly every week, Vaughn was a highlight for the Wildcats; he finished with 128 rushing yards on 11 carries, his seventh 100-plus-yard outing this season, which is tied for third most in a single campaign in K-State history. He also caught a team-high five passes for 37 yards. All told, he had 165 yards from scrimmage.
The problem for the Wildcats’ Saturday: he was the only player to find much success against the Bears’ stingy defense. The rest of the K-State offense combined to produced just 98 total yards.
“When I watched film throughout the week, I thought they were comparable to Oklahoma State as far as a football team,” Klieman said of Baylor. “Oklahoma State was the best team that we’ve played so far this year, and coming into this game, I thought they were going to be the next-best team we played thus far in Baylor. It was definitely true, because they’ve got a lot of veteran guys. Their linebackers are really, really talented. They rotate a lot of defensive linemen in. Give those guys credit. They played really well.”
Vaughn’s touchdown was the only time K-State crossed the goal line all game. Baylor responded with a field goal on the final possession of the first half to take a 17-7 lead into the break.
The only scoring in the third quarter came on the leg of K-State kicker Chris Tennant, who connected on a 28-yard field goal at the 8:24 mark to cut the deficit to 17-10.
Hankins responded with a 28-yard kick of his own to push the lead back to double-digits, 20-10, with 13:35 remaining.
Shapen showed no signs of uncertainty despite his lack of experience. He made multiple high-level throws into tight spaces, and, as if to show the stage wasn’t too big for him, his first throw of the second half was a 28-yard strike to Tyquan Thornton down the right sideline.
“I thought that kid did a really nice job,” Klieman said. “We didn’t have much of a scouting report on him. ... We didn’t know what they were going to do from the run game, pass game. I thought they did a nice job of throwing some check downs and throwing some easy passes and easy completions for him to get him into a rhythm. And he is a really good athlete and he got us on a couple of quarterback-run plays.”
Cody Fletcher, a sixth-year senior linebacker honored during senior day ceremonies prior to kickoff, also was impressed with Shapen’s outing.
“I think that kid came in and played a pretty good game from what I saw,” Fletcher said.
For Fletcher, the four other sixth-year seniors and the 25 other players recognized during the pregame commemoration, the loss meant they walked off in defeat in their final game in Manhattan.
That didn’t sit well with Vaughn, who said he’ll never forget that somber feeling.
“It was senior night, and we wanted to get that ‘W’ for those guys in there,” he said. “We appreciate them and everything they’ve done over the past four, five, six years here at Kansas State. ... To come up short like that, it’s one of those things that’s going to haunt me for a long, long time.”