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FINAL: TCU 14, Kansas State 13

The agony of “close” might be worse than last week’s beatdown.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Texas Christian
An ill-fated try for an interception led to the day’s only really big-yardage play, a 67-yard TD catch by TCU’s Jalen Reagor.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This will be a truncated recap because 1) usual author and football recap specialist Jon is unavailable due to literal computer bugs, and 2) really, at this point, what else is there to say?

Kansas State (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) had multiple chances to win this game. But the ‘Cats failed to execute the little things, and consequently lost, 14-13, to the TCU Horned Frogs (4-5, 2-4).

The K-State defense stopped TCU on its first possession, and with the Frogs punting into a stout wind, it looked like a promising start for the ‘Cats. Unfortunately, Isaiah Zuber misjudged the trajectory of the wind-hampered punt, muffed the catch, and TCU recovered. The Horned Frogs capitalized on the opportunity with a Darius Anderson 4-yard touchdown run to lead 7-0. The special teams gaffe was, unfortunately, a harbinger of things to come.

Pressed into duty at quarterback after Skylar Thompson was injured on an awkward tackle midway through the first quarter, Alex Delton found his groove on his second possession and delivered a beautiful pass to Malik Knowles at the back of the end zone to draw even at 4:05 in the first quarter, 7-7.

K-State dominated the second quarter and had a chance to take a lead on a chip-shot field goal, but the snap was less than perfect, and holder Colby Moore, trying to salvage something, threw an interception in the end zone. This was the second of three special teams miscues to plague K-State. TCU punted on its possession, and K-State ran out the half with the score still knotted at 7. Alex Barnes finished the half with only 26 yards rushing.

TCU drew first blood in the second half on a 4-play, 80-yard drive, punctuated by a 67-yard touchdown pass from Michael Collins to Jalen Reagor. K-State defensive back AJ Parker got out-wrestled for the underthrown ball, then outrun to the end zone. It was the day’s biggest mistake for a K-State defense that otherwise played well in the road environment.

Barnes got the ground game rolling in the second half, finishing the day with 102 yards on 23 carries. Behind a couple of strong runs and some timely catches by Zach Reuter and Dalton Schoen, K-State scored a touchdown with 9:16 to play. Unfortunately, Blake Lynch hooked the extra-point (with the laces facing 180-degrees from where they should have been, if you’re looking for excuses), leaving the ‘Cats down 14-13. That’s special teams gak number three, if you’re keeping track. Those mistakes were, frankly, the difference in the game.

K-State next touched the ball on its own 5-yard line with 4:25 to play and one time-out left. Delton moved the offense all the way to the TCU 46, but suffered a sack on first down, then threw three consecutive incomplete passes under heavy pressure to squelch any hope of victory.

Also squelched: Any realistic hope of going bowling. While it’s still mathematically possible, the Wildcats would have to beat both Iowa State and Texas Tech (plus KU—by no means an automatic, at this point) to get there.

The offense finished the day with 301 yards on 12 offensive possessions. The defense held TCU to 275 total yards, 67 of which, as noted above, came on a single play. Mistakes cost K-State the game.

Frustrating as the loss is, not all is putrescence. Several players of the “who again?” variety contributed meaningful positives that give us some measure of optimism for the future. The TD catch by Knowles was beautiful, as he extended and got a foot down while avoiding the goal post supports. Wykeen Gill also showed an ability to get open, hauling in two catches. Delton ended the game 15/25 for 155 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions.

The defense featured standout performances by Justin Hughes, with 8 bruising tackles, and Wyatt Hubert, who recorded 4 arrests, two behind the line of scrimmage.

Next up: Another battle of 1-win conference teams, as Kansas comes to Manhattan.