Harrison Mevis hit an SEC-record 61-yard field goal as time expired to send Kansas State to a 30-27 defeat at the hands of the Missouri Tigers this afternoon at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri.
The Tigers were able to get consistent pressure on Will Howard the entire game, and half of the Wildcat secondary was ineffectual as Missouri had nearly as much passing yardage against the Cats as they did combined against South Dakota and Middle Tennessee State. There are things which will need to be addressed by the coaching staff after this one.
But it started well.
On the first play of the game, a Missouri defender pushed Ben Sinnott down from behind after the whistle, and then stood over him barking. No flag, but K-State penalized the Tigers themselves.
Each of the next six plays went for at least nine yards, averaging 12. After an incompletion, Howard ran it in from four yards out, but it was wiped out by a holding call on Ben Sinnott; speaking as someone who thinks just about every block is probably a hold, this one very much did not appear to be one. No matter. Two plays later, Howard threw to the end zone; the pass was dangerously tipped, but right to Phillip Brooks for the opening touchdown.
Mizzou answered quickly, Brady Cook hitting a wide open Luther Burden for a 47-yard score on a play in which the Wildcat secondary was beaten badly. Then Howard, under extreme duress, threw an interception at midfield. The Tigers moved the ball, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal ffrom Harrison Mevis, and for the first time all season K-State trailed at 10-7.
K-State had to punt, but the defense held and forced a 54-yard field goal attempt which was way off. The Cats surged downfield, eventually scoring on a three-yard pass to Sinnott to retake the lead. But two big pass plays got the Tigers down to the Wildcat 7. The defense then took things down to fourth down, but a fake end-around to Burden resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Cook to give the 17-14 lead back to the Tigers.
K-State got a big 34-yard pass to Sinnott to get inside the Missouri 30, but got nothing after that after Howard was sacked twice. Chris Tennant was short on a 55-yard attempt, which was actually returned by the Tigers to the 37. The defense prevented a penetration past midfield, though, forcing a punt.
Howard was sacked again on the first play of the drive, which led to a punt; the defense finally managed a 3-and-out, and got Howard the ball back again with 20 seconds left. K-State just took a knee, and entered the locker room trailing 17-14.
The defense answered the bell after halftime, forcing a 3-and-out on a tackle for loss, a sack, and a near-interception on a batted pass. The Cats took over on the right side of midfield, but the Tiger defense also held the line for the most part. A 46-yarder by Tennant to tie the game at 17 was good.
Missouri moved toward midfield, but a snap to Cook when he wasn’t paying attention resulted in a loss of four on 3rd-and-5, and the Tigers punted for the fourth time in a row. The Cats moved downfield fast, including another 30+ yard completion to Sinnott, but ran into trouble at the goal line. Howard again had a touchdown run taken off the board due to a holding call, then Howard avoided a sack with an underhand shovel pass to Sinnott. A touchdown pass to Jadon Jackson was erased when Brooks was called for offensive pass interference; that set up 2nd-and-goal from the Tiger 22. Howard found Brooks for 19, and then threw a jump pass to Sinnott to put the Cats up 24-17.
Cook then beat Parrish for 26 yards to Theo Wease, and then beat Sigle for 42 yards to Marquis Johnson, his first collegiate catch. The third quarter ended with the Tigers at the Wildcat 7, but the fourth began with three straight stops and a 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-20.
On 3rd-and-4 near midfield, Sinnott did something he never does: dropped a first-down catch. Jack Blumer pinned Missouri at the 11, and the defense needed to get a stop. Fifteen yards and seven plays later, they got it, and a nice escape on the return by Brooks gave the Cats the ball at their own 35, but Sinnott again dropped a third-down pass — although he would have been short of the sticks regardless.
And then everything went to hell in two plays.
Cody Schrader more than doubled Missouri’s rushing yardage on the entire day with a 36-yard breakout, and a personal foul on VJ Payne added 15 yards to that. Then Cook found Burden in space, and he raced 26 yards for the go-ahead score.
Coming back the other way, K-State got bailed out on a face mask call themselves, and then Howard completed a 33-yard catch-and-run to Treshaun Ward to get inside the Tiger 30. A couple of plays later, Ward picked up 14, with encroachment on Missouri declined, and it was 1st-and-goal from the nine. After an incompletion, Avery Johnson came in again and got down to the three, but then a false start erased a Ward touchdown. Howard was wrapped up and threw the ball away on third down, and frankly it should have been ruled intentional grounding. The Cats tied the game at 27 on a 26-yarder by Tennant, leaving everything in the beleaguered defense’s hands.
Two false starts and a good play by Sigle blowing Burden up behind the line on a screen set up 3rd-and-15 from the 21, and an incompletion forced a punt with 3:53 to play. But the Cats couldn’t get anything going either, and had to punt with 1:25 to go. Missouri got downfield, but with six seconds left a complete clownshow ensued as Missouri got hit with a delay of game and then K-State had to call a timeout because they had 12 men on the field. Brendan Mott batted down a pass attempt, and Mevis came out to try a 61-yard field goal.
And it was good, setting an SEC record. Mizzou fans stormed the field.
Will Howard was 25-39 for 270 yards, and that’s even more impressive when you consider Howard had at least five perfectly thrown balls dropped (three by Sinnott alone). He threw three touchdown passes, and his weekly interception. He added 21 on the ground. Sinnott, Ward, and Brooks each had five catches, and Jackson had four; Sinnott led with 78 yards and two touchdowns.
K-State’s ground game never got going. Ward had 54 yards on ten carries (giving him 115 total yards including his 61 receiving), and Giddens had 36 on nine.
The Tigers outgained the Cats 430-408, but that was almost all in the air. Cook was 23-35 for 356 yards and two touchdowns. Missouri did manage 74 yards on the ground, a herculean total against the Wildcat run defense, which is now giving up an average of 50 yards per game. Missouri was also held to 3-13 on third down; the problem was getting them to third down.
Penalties were pretty even; K-State was hit seven times for 65 yards, Missouri six for 50. K-State won time of possession 34-26.
WHAT WE LEARNED
1) There is a problem in the secondary.
One game doesn’t tell you everything, but there’s one observation we made today which is absolutely galling: it seemed that Missouri completed exactly one pass to the Will Lee/Kobe Savage side of the field, and even then Keenan Garber made the stop immediately. Cook absolutely shredded Parrish and Sigle, and one wonders if the proper adjustment here may have to just switch either the corners or the safeties and try a new team set.
Granted, Burden is a load to handle for anyone, and maybe things will be fine going forward, but it was blatantly obvious early on that there were communication and adjustment issues between Parrish and Sigle. We expected to see this after halftime, but it didn’t happen. We’ll see what we see next game.
2) The offensive line is suffering.
This team needs Christian Duffie back as soon as possible, because trying to fill his absence is causing everyone’s play to suffer as they move around the line. Howard was limping by the end of the game because he was consistently being harassed and hit; nearly every play you could see Missouri’s edge rushers coming around the outside nearly unchecked. At one point, Howard was sacked on three consecutive offensive plays, and he really wasn’t quite the same after that.
3) The run defense impressed again.
The longest runs for each of the three Tigers who had carries were 36, 7, and, 7; outside of those individual long runs, they had 24 yards on 24 carries.
“If you don’t count” is stupid, except when it tells you that if you don’t count each player’s longest run they only managed one yard per carry, alright? And even if you do count them, that’s only 50 extra yards the defense gave up.
There is no 4) or 5) this week. We didn’t learn anything else, honestly.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
It’s Will Howard on offense, who put in a pretty heroic effort given that the offensive line betrayed him today. On defense, the combo of Lee and Savage deserve very honorable mention here for shutting down their side of the field, but the winner is Daniel Green, who led the team with nine tackles, including a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Jevon Banks had K-State’s other sack.
NIGHT GAME! Next week, the Wildcats welcome UCF to the Big 12 at 7pm on FS1.