NORMAN – New season, new coach, same problem. Kansas State continued its recent history as the Sooners’ purple Kryptonite, as they came into Norman Saturday night and walked out with the win, 41-34, in a game OU never led. In case you haven’t been paying attention, we are an overturned call on an onside kick in Manhattan last season from being on an active four-game losing streak to the Wildcats. As it is, they have won four of the last six in Norman and three of the last four overall.
Dillon Gabriel was 26 of 39 on the night for 330 yards and four scores. Eric Gray had seven catches for 45 yards, while Jalil Farooq added 69 yards on five grabs. Brayden Willis had five catches for 41 yards and a pair of scores, while Marvin Mims had four for 87 and a score and Theo Wease added three for 75 and a score.
Gray led the Sooners in rushing with 114 yards on 16 carries. Gabriel added 61 yards on seven carries, while Marcus Major had 37 yards on nine totes.
The game started off the same as last week against Nebraska, as the Wildcats took the opening kickoff and went down the field quickly to take a 7-0 lead. The drive was seven plays and covered 75 yards, and featured a conversion on third and five, one on third and 12, and one on fourth and one. Unfortunately, unlike last week, this opening drive was a sign of things to come and not just delaying the inevitable Sooner onslaught of points.
OU was able to pick up only one first down on its opening possession and punted it back to KSU. Seven plays and 80 yards later and it was 14-0 Wildcats with 5:37 to play in the first quarter, and it seemed clear OU would be in for a dogfight all night.
After the teams traded three and outs, the Sooners finally got on the board. Gabriel hit a wide (wide wide wide) open Wease for 56 yards and a score that made it 14-7 with 2:32 to play in the first quarter.
After two KSU punts sandwiched around one from the Sooners, OU would tie it up. This time, it was another bomb from Gabriel, this one to Mims, who took it in from 50 yards out to make it 14-14 with 12:24 to go in the first half.
A great kickoff return gave KSU the ball at the OU 42 on the ensuing possession. The Wildcats would capitalize, going those 42 yards in 11 plays for a 21-14 lead with 6:15 to play in the first half.
The Sooners moved it to the KSU 14 on the ensuing possession and were setting up to go for it on fourth and one from there. However, a false start penalty derailed that idea, and OU had to settle for a field goal that made it 21-17 with 2:47 to play in the first half. KSU picked up a field goal on the final play of the half to go into the locker room up 24-17.
The Sooners got the ball to open the second half and cut the Wildcat lead. After the opening kick of the second half went into the end zone for a touchback, Gray ran for 11 yards, then 17 more. Two plays later he caught a pass for 19 yards, then another for eight more, and the Sooners were in business at the KSU 21. A holding penalty derailed the drive, though, and the Sooners settled for another field goal that made it 24-20 with 11:42 to play in the third quarter.
After an exchange of punts, KSU picked up another field goal to extend their lead back to 27-20 with 3:24 to go in the third. OU got to the KSU 39 on the ensuing possession but failed on a fourth and three from there.
After an exchange of punts, KSU put the Sooners in real trouble. A 15-yard Adrian Martinez keeper with eight minutes to play in the game made it 34-20 KSU, and OU was on the ropes.
The Sooners responded with a nine-play, 75-yard TD drive keyed by completions of 30 yards to Farooq and 16 yards to Willis. Gabriel had a nice-16-yard keeper in there as well. Gabriel hit Willis from the one for the TD that made it 34-27 with 4:36 to play.
The Sooners had to have a stop on the ensuing possession to have a chance to win. And it looked like they might get it. Facing third and 16 from their own 41, the Sooners seemed to have the Wildcats right where they wanted them. As it turned out, though, as has been the case all too many times in the past, the Sooners were unable to get off the field on third and long. Instead, Martinez scrambled for 55 yards and wisely slid down at the OU four instead of scoring. Two plays later, the Sooners were pretty much cooked, trailing 41-27 with 1:58 to play in the game.
OU needed a quick TD drive and then an onside kick recovery. The Sooners went 75 yards in 12 plays and 1:23 to cut the KSU lead to 41-34 with 35 seconds to play. The onside kick was not even close to a Sooner recovery, though, and the Wildcats kneeled it out for the 41-34 win.
The Sooners now move on to a road game against undefeated TCU. It’s a rooster kick at 11 a.m. Saturday. See you in Fort Worth.