K-State needed about eight minutes to rediscover a winning formula on Saturday night.
There was Malik Knowles with the kind of explosive play that sparked the Wildcats on offense earlier this season. Deuce Vaughn was back in the endzone early in the first quarter and the K-State defensive line was living in the Baylor backfield.
It took just nine minutes for it to all be washed away on a rainy night in Waco.
K-State (4-5, 4-4 Big 12) rushed for a season-high 256 yards, but Baylor (2-5, 2-5 Big 12) used a field goal as time expired to complete a fourth-quarter comeback in a 32-31 win.
“It’s a game that we should have won,” Chris Klieman said. “I told the guys I’m sorry and I’m sick for them, because we did some really good things but didn’t make winning plays at the end…We will win these types of games and we need to win these types of games.”
Knowles scored his second touchdown of the season on a 75-yard run in the first quarter, going in motion on a sweep to put the Wildcats in front after an early Baylor touchdown.
It was the first rushing touchdown of Knowles’ career, but it was the kind of explosive play that has sparked the Wildcats throughout the 2020 season.
No team in the nation has more plays of 60+ yards this season than K-State (7), as the Wildcats have featured several home-run threats throughout their offense.
On Saturday, it was Knowles, who gave K-State the lead on a run where he followed his blockers before beating most of the Baylor secondary in a footrace.
“We were down 6-0 before you can blink an eye and you’re thinking ‘Oh boy, here we go again,’” Klieman said. “Then Malik came up with a huge play. I was excited for Malik, and it flipped the momentum.”
Vaughn capped off K-State’s next drive with his second receiving touchdown of the season.
The true freshman rushed a career-high 19 times against the Bears and flashed his ability as a receiver and do-it-all threat.
“The offensive line played amazing tonight,” Vaughn said. “They opened up big gaps and even when they didn’t, there were seams in there to get into and that’s all props to them.”
Vaughn split the Baylor secondary to grab a well-placed throw from Will Howard on his first touchdown of the night. It was just the beginning of a productive return to his home state.
After Howard showcased his dual-threat ability on a touchdown scamper of his own, the Wildcats were looking to put game away on their next drive.
For a moment, it appeared that Vaughn had done just that.
The freshman took a handoff up the middle, taking advantage of some tremendous blocking from a patchwork K-State offensive line to scamper 38-yards for his second score of the night.
“I feel like we controlled the line of scrimmage all day,” Vaughn said. “So, whenever we started running whether it was a slant play or power, we were picking up seven, eight, 10 and then before you know it, pop a 38-yard touchdown.”
In the first half of Saturday night’s game, the K-State defensive line effectively shut down the Baylor offense after the Bears scored their first touchdown of the night on a short field.
With two sacks against Baylor, Wyatt Hubert moved into the school’s top-10 list with 18.0 in his K-State career.
“They couldn’t run the ball or pass the ball in the first half. Our defensive line was very active up front and making plays,” Hubert said. “Obviously, we struggled with the play action passes, slants and hitch routes and stuff. So that’s what hurts us the most, just those small plays where they get five yards at a time.”
Daniel Green, Cody Fletcher, Jahron McPherson and Drew Wiley also added to their season total, as the Wildcats sacked Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer seven times on Saturday.
Despite the early pressure, Brewer settled into the game in the fourth quarter.
He engineered a 54-yard and 50-yard drive inside the final five minutes on Saturday night, the last one capped off by a game-winning field goal as time expired to seal the win for Baylor.
“I feel like we fought for the entire four quarters. It came down to the ball not really bouncing our way,” Vaughn said. “It happened, and now we’re moving on to Texas. I commend every single one of my teammates for fighting all four quarters of this game.”
K-State returns to Manhattan on December 5 for a matchup with Texas, as the Wildcats celebrate Senior Day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.