Snyder ‘some­what amazed’ by tight end’s on-field an­tics

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JESSE NEWELL

Fox tele­vi­sion cam­eras missed the fun. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder did not.

The strangest mo­ment of Kansas’ foot­ball sea­son — in a year filled with lots of them — took place mid­way through the fourth quar­ter of Satur­day’s 21-17 loss to K-State. The Jay­hawks had a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive long run called back by a hold­ing penalty, and tight end Mavin Saun­ders ei­ther lost his mind ... or, per­haps, de­cided in the mo­ment to be­come a stand-up co­me­dian.

“I watched it. I saw it,” the 79-year-old Snyder said af­ter the game. “Some­what amazed.”

Saun­ders picked up an official’s flag that was in­side the 10-yard line. That’s what Fox Sports Net­work re­plays showed.

What hap­pened af­ter that, though, was even more stun­ning. Saun­ders stood on top of the flag, try­ing to pre­tend like it wasn’t on the field so of­fi­cials didn’t think it was there. Af­ter the hold­ing call was made, Saun­ders kicked his leg back, send­ing the flag into the air be­fore it came to rest again on the turf.

That drew an­other penalty. Un­sports­man­like con­duct.

The markoff only ended up be­ing 2 yards — half the dis­tance to the goal — but it also helped fire up a Wild­cats’ crowd that had been dor­mant most of the game.

Snyder was later asked if he thought Saun­ders’ an­tics were “com­i­cal.”

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot com­i­cal in the course of a ball­game for me,” Snyder said. “At this mo­ment, it is, yes.”

Not so funny for KU. Es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances; KU was

17-14, on the verge of pick­ing up its first Big 12 road vic­tory in more than 10 years.

KU coach David Beaty said he didn’t see much of what hap­pened be­cause he was watch­ing the long run de­velop. But he was told Saun­ders threw the flag.

“That should never hap­pen,” Beaty said, “par­tic­u­larly with a guy that’s been around for a long time.”

It was all a foot­note to an­other loss. KU fell for the 10th straight time to K-State, with one re­al­ity com­ing through clearly again.

KU se­nior line­backer

Joe Di­neen said in his

win­ning

ex­pe­ri­ence, K-State has been a team that is dis­ci­plined while re­ly­ing on you to make the mis­takes your­self.

The Jay­hawks did plenty of that through­out the game, which in­cluded one drive in par­tic­u­lar at the end of the first half that en­cap­su­lated some over­ar­ch­ing strug­gles of the Beaty era.

Start with the first play of the pos­ses­sion, with KU lead­ing 3-0 and 3:10 left in the sec­ond quar­ter. Re­ceiver Steven Sims ran a hitch and go, fool­ing a Kansas State de­fen­sive back to the point where he slipped and fell down. The Wild­cats had no safety help, mean­ing KU quar­ter­back Pey­ton Ben­der had a huge mar­gin for er­ror on his throw for a po­ten­tial touch­down.

In­stead, the pass sailed too far to­ward the side­line with Sims man­ag­ing to get one foot in for a 26-yard gain ... but not a TD.

Three plays later, Ben­der tried to make up for it. He stepped up in the pocket, de­liv­er­ing a throw so ac­cu­rate to a down­field Kwamie Las­siter that it hit him in the hel­met.

An­other po­ten­tial touch­down. This one, though, clanged off Las­siter’s head and hands be­fore fall­ing to the ground.

Af­ter all that, the worst mo­ment of the drive still came later. Fol­low­ing a Pooka Wil­liams’ run, KU faced fourth-and-17 from the K-State 40 with 17 sec­onds left and the clock run­ning. The Jay­hawks could have tried a Hail Mary just be­fore half­time. They could have tried a 57-yard field goal — kicker Gabriel Rui made a 54yarder ear­lier this year — with help from a strong wind at their backs.

In­stead, chaos. KU had pre­vi­ously used all three of its time­outs to avoid de­lay-of-game penal­ties, mean­ing it couldn’t stop the clock. Rui ran on the field with a few sec­onds left with­out his holder, turn­ing back to the side­line to see if there was a plan.

There wasn’t. The time ran out, with a myr­iad of KU mis­takes cul­mi­nat­ing in the team giv­ing it­self no chance at points right be­fore the break.

Ben­der de­scribed it this way: “I thought we were bring­ing out the field-goal unit, so we were kind of jog­ging off. The last minute, it was like, ‘Let’s throw a Hail Mary. Let’s throw a Hail Mary.’ We tried to run back out there, but it was too late at that point.”

Be­cause KU had an op­por­tu­nity to run the half’s fi­nal play, it seemed like a low-risk chance to po­ten­tially get a score. Beaty didn’t see it that way, say­ing he didn’t want to try a long field goal (“We just felt like it was too rushed, and if we did get that thing blocked, it could have turned into points for them”) while stat­ing KU also didn’t have the right per­son­nel in to run the of­fen­sive play it wanted in that sit­u­a­tion.

“I don’t feel bad about the way that we ended in that first half, be­cause I thought we made strate­gi­cally some pretty good sit­u­a­tions to get us in po­si­tion,” Beaty said.

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