Missed extra point, other miscues cost Kansas State in loss at TCU
It was the type of game that featured a double fumble, a punt from within field-goal range, a missed extra point and as many turnovers as touchdowns.
TCU defeated Kansas State 14-13 on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in a matchup that was, perhaps, the opposite of an instant classic.
The Horned Frogs made just enough big plays to survive against the Wildcats, who were done in by a sputtering offense and mistake-prone special teams.
K-State had an opportunity to win the game in the final moments, when it started its final drive at its own 4 with 3 minutes, but were unable to take advantage. Alex Delton led the Wildcats across midfield with a 31-yard pass to Zach Reuter. But TCU forced Delton into an intentional grounding penalty on the final play. K-State went on turn the ball over on downs.
With the win, TCU (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) got a much needed victory that will keep its bowl hopes alive. With the loss, KState (3-6, 1-5) enters its next game against Kansas on a losing streak.
The most impressive play of the day was a 67-yard touchdown pass from TCU quarterback Mike Collins to receiver Jalen Reagor. That put the Horned Frogs ahead 14-7 midway through the third quarter and put considerable pressure on the Wildcats to answer.
In a low scoring, sloppy game, a K-State rebuttal was anything but given. The Wildcats did answer back, though,
in the fourth quarter on a quarterback sneak from Alex Delton.
The touchdown came on fourth and inches and pulled K-State to within 14-13, but it failed to tie the game when Blake Lynch missed the extra point wide left following a questionable hold from Colby Moore in which the ball was placed on the ground with the laces pointed in instead of out.
Special teams were a problem for K-State all afternoon. Moore also failed to corral a snap on a short field-goal attempt in the second quarter, which led to an interception. And Isaiah Zuber lost a fumble while trying to return a punt in the first quarter.
K-State, a team that has for years taken advantage of excellent special teams to win close games, was flawed in that area here.
You could tell it was going to be a strange game from the beginning.
K-State and TCU both struggled to get much of anything going on offense and finished the first half tied at 7-7.
The game started promisingly enough for the Wildcats, as they forced the Horned Frogs into a three-and-out on their opening drive. But that quickly became a negative when Isaiah Zuber dropped the ensuing punt and TCU took over in excellent field position.
TCU running back Darius Anderson took advantage moments later with a four-yard touchdown run.
It was a sign of things to come. Sustained drives were rare. The best scoring opportunities for both teams occurred after miscues from the opposing side.
But the Wildcats did manage one scoring drive midway through the first quarter. Alex Delton took over for Skylar Thompson after the starting quarterback exited the game with an injury, and led K-State 72 yards in 10 plays to the score.
He capped the drive with a 21-yard pass to freshman receiver Malik Knowles, who made an excellent catch in the back of the end zone. The first touchdown catch of his college career was a beauty.
K-State could use more young playmakers like Knowles, especially with Zuber, the leading receiver on the team, curiously no longer involved with the offense. Wykeen Gill also stepped up to make some important catches.
But there were few other highlights.
The Wildcats finished the first half with 146 yards on 37 plays and the Horned Frogs managed 137 on 33.
K-State threatened to take the lead in the second quarter when Blake Lynch lined up to attempt a short field goal, but the Wildcats came up empty when Colby Moore mishandled the snap and ended up throwing an interception on an impromptu fake.
Delton finished with 155 yards and a touchdown passing. Alex Barnes had 102 yards on the ground. It wasn’t enough.
In a battle of two fragile teams desperately trying to turn around disappointing seasons, TCU came out on top.