MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Baylor coach Art Briles knew that his team would be tested at some point his season. Things had been too easy for the No. 15 Bears during four lopsided home wins.
In fact, he figured the step up in class would start Saturday at Kansas State.
He was right, and his team answered the call.
Bryce Petty threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns, Ahmad Dixon made a critical interception late in the fourth quarter and the Bears held on for a 35-25 victory over the slumping Wildcats.
“We knew the way this season had gone, it wasn’t going to continue like that,” said Briles, whose had been averaging more than 700 yards and 70 points per game. “Everything had been in our favor, four games at home, catching everyone at a good time. We knew it would change.”
What didn’t change was the outcome.
Tevin Reese had five catches for 184 yards and two scores, and Antwan Goodley had five catches for 139 yards and another touchdown as the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) won their ninth straight game dating to their upset victory over Kansas State last season.
“It was a huge team win all-around,” said Petty, whose three TD passes all went for more than 50 yards. “The defense stepped up huge. I thought they had a great game.”
Daniel Sams ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns for the Wildcats, who led 25-21 midway through the third quarter. But they twice failed on 2-point conversion attempts, missed a tying field-goal try in the fourth quarter, and then Sams was picked off by Dixon to seal the outcome.
The defending Big 12 champion, Kansas State (2-4) is 0-3 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2004, shortly before coach Bill Snyder stepped away for a brief retirement.
“It better matter to them. It better matter to everybody if it involves the program,” he said. “I hate to think that you lose four ball games through the early segments of your season and be a 2-4 football team and not have it matter. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I think it does matter to our players and they don’t want to be there. They want to do something about it.”
The Bears had scored at least 28 points in the first quarter of each of their games this season, so it was a mild victory for Kansas State that they only led 7-0 on Saturday.
Kansas State answered early in the second quarter when Sams carried eight consecutive times on a 78-yard TD drive, but Baylor’s score-a-minute offense eventually got on track.
Reese ran right past defensive back Randall Evans for a 93-yard touchdown reception, the second-longest scoring pass in the Bears’ 115-year history. Then after Jack Cantele hit a 24-yard field goal for Kansas State, Goodley hauled in a 72-yard pass from Petty to make it 21-10 at halftime.
So accustomed to games being over by then, perhaps the Bears forgot they needed to keep playing.
The Wildcats scored 15 unanswered points in the third quarter, beginning with Cantele’s 32-yard field goal. Weston Hiebert blocked a punt moments later to give Kansas State the ball back, and Sams — who briefly went to the locker room with a shoulder injury — returned for a 2-yard TD run.
The Wildcats got the ball back again when Petty was stripped by Ryan Mueller near the Baylor sideline, and Kansas State punched it into the end zone for its first lead of the game.
But facing adversity for the first time this season, Baylor responded with aplomb. Petty hit Reese on a 54-yard scoring strike that gave the Bears a 28-25 lead with 14:33 left.
“He just got off a great press, he got a good release and just took off,” Petty said. “It was just about not overthrowing him and ac ting like we were in the indoor.”
The Wildcats had chances down the stretch, only to fritter them away.
Cantele pulled a 41-yard field goal wide left that would have tied the game with 6:49 left in the game. After the Kansas State defense held, Sams was picked off by Dixon with 3:48 remaining when the sophomore quarterback appeared to be throwing the ball away.
Glasco Martin added a 21-yard touchdown run with 1:16 to go that put the game away.
“We moved the ball at times but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot at times, too,” said the Wildcats’ Jake Waters, who shared time with Sams at quarterback. “For the most part I thought we played good enough to win the game. We’ve just got to make those plays to get the W.”
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