K-State wins the Big 12 title 31-28 in OT over ruining perfect TCU season

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Kansas State nearly threw away a convincing fourth-quarter lead in the Big 12 title game on Saturday at AT&T Stadium but in overtime K-State kicker Ty Zentner kicked K-State to a title from 31 yards out.

TCU scored first on Saturday afternoon, completing a 13-play, 92-yard drive that took nearly seven full minutes off the clock with a Taye Barber one-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Max Duggan.

But K-State responded with two consecutive drives that ended in touchdowns, both coming off the back of quarterback Will Howard. The first touchdown was a completion to tight end Ben Sinnott, and it came on a fourth and one play. Later, Howard kept it on a run play from the one-yard line to put the Wildcats ahead 14-7.

TCU was able to get a 42-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half to make it at 14-10 game midway through.

Coming out of the half, the K-State defense took TCU’s offense off the field with a quick three-and-out, but controversy ensued because of a debatable fumble/incomplete pass that could have resulted in in a K-State safety. After further review, the officials overturned the fumble and safety call on the field to say it was an incomplete pass.

K-State’s offense responded with a commanding four-play, 62-yard drive that ended in Howard’s second touchdown pass of the game to put K-State ahead 21-10.

TCU quickly responded, though, when running back Kendre Miller ran six yards to conclude a 30-yard drive with a touchdown with 9:09 left in the third quarter to make the score 21-10.

But TCU was only able to gain possession at the K-State 30-yard yard line because of a muffed punt by K-State’s Phillip Brooks. After the muffed punt and the touchdown for TCU, the Horned Frogs had all the momentum in the game.

Yet, when Deuce Vaughn broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run on K-State’s next possession to give the Wildcats an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter it looked like K-State controlled their chances to win their first league title in a decade.

Until Duggan began to make a final push at the Heisman Trophy.

Duggan proceeded to lead the Horned Frogs on two scoring drives in the final 7:34 of the game. The first drive ended in a Kell Griffin 42-yard field goal to make the score 28-20.

After a punt by K-State, the Wildcat defense returned to the field with an eight-point lead and a chance to win the Big 12 title with a stop. But Duggan had an incredible last drive that included a 40-yard run down the sideline and on the next play an eight-yard touchdown run as he gasped for air with blood streaming down his right elbow from a nasty gash he suffered earlier in the game.

Duggan then threw to a wide-open Jared Wiley in the end zone for the game-tying 2-point conversion.

K-State’s offense then failed to convert on a third down and long when Howard slightly overthrew Kade Warner on what would have been a first down competition. That forced Zentner onto the field, who downed the punt inside at the TCU four. The Frogs then decided to play for overtime.

On the Frogs’ first possession in overtime, they reached the one-yard line before being stuffed on back-to-back runs up the middle. On the fourth down carry with Miller, K-State linebacker Daniel Greene and defensive tackle Eli Huggins made the play.

When K-State took over possession, Vaughn opened the drive with a nine-yard carry. Vaughn then ran two yards on the next play before getting another carry for a yard. On third and 6, Howard ran to the middle of the field and took a knee setting up Zentner.

From 31 yards out, Zentner lives in K-State lore — forever.

K-State was bit by the injury bug earlier this season in their loss at TCU, and on Saturday in Arlington, the Wildcats were once again hit with a rash of injuries.

Staring cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe was removed from the game after TCU wide receiver Savion Williams landed on Boye-Doe’s ribs/shoulder in the first quarter of the game. The Wildcat cornerback didn’t return to the game which forced freshman Jacob Parish into action.

In previous weeks, K-State lost safeties Kobe Savage and Cincere Mason to injuries for the season. The Wildcats put freshman VJ Payne into the game to replace the two more experienced safeties.

At wide receiver, Malik Knowles left the game in the first half because of a reported leg injury, according to ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Knowles was experiencing an explosive first half before going down with the injury. He had rushed two times for 48 yards and caught a pass for a 40-yard gain as well.

Knowles was a second-team All-Big 12 selection this season, but he was replaced by freshman RJ Garcia who hauled in his first career touchdown reception in the third quarter on a 25-yard pass in the end zone.

Left tackle KT Leveston was removed from the game for a brief period of the game but later returned in the fourth quarter.

Kansas State now awaits their bowl selection, but by nearly every indication the Wildcats will play in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Dec. 31. The Wildcats’ opponent, though, still remains to be seen.

The two most likely opponents for K-State are LSU (9-3, 6-2 SEC) and Alabama (10-2, 6-2). LSU won the SEC West this season but suffered losses to Florida State, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Alabama, suffered two losses this season, including at Tennessee and at LSU.

LSU plays undefeated, No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title game on Saturday afternoon.

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