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October 4, 2008

Second quarter dooms Cats in blowout loss

Early in the second quarter of Saturday's game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman scored a touchdown from one yard out to tie the score, 14-14. The Wildcats seemed to have upset on their minds with the No. 7 Texas Tech Red Raiders in town. Just over 14 1/2 minutes later, Coach Ron Prince's Wildcats jogged to their locker rooms trailing by 24.

"We didn't make the most of it," said of the opportunity to keep the game tight in the first half. "We weren't able to drive the ball like they were."

The Red Raiders (5-0, 1-0) gunned their way to a 58-28 victory over the Wildcats, piling up 626 total yards along the way. After the game, none of the Wildcats were in any mood to try to find moral victories.

"I'm not going to sit here and make a bunch of excuses," Prince said. "We got thoroughly beaten by a very good team."

"It is definitely embarrassing," safety Chris Carney said. "Anytime that you get beat by 30 points, it is going to be embarrassing. Especially with how often they threw, we put the loss on our shoulders."

The game marked the third consecutive occasion that the Wildcat defense surrendered at least 500 total yards. The yard totals fill up the stat sheet, but that was not the defense's main concern, defensive end and team captain Ian Campbell said.

"Our game plan was ball destruction, turnovers and getting to the quarterback to give our offense the opportunity to score," Campbell said, "and I wasn't able to do that."

The Wildcats (3-2, 0-1) forced one turnover, a fourth-quarter interception by defensive lineman Brandon Balkcom, but registered zero sacks and failed to stop the Red Raiders from scoring on any of their eight trips into the red zone.

"It's pretty disappointing all the way around," Prince said. "I can't really find any highlights or silver linings to this thing."

Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell operated the Texas Tech offense with efficiency, completing 38-of-51 passes for 454 yards and six touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Red Raider rushing attack totaled 136 yards. Harrel's top target was Michael Crabtree who finished the afternoon with nine receptions for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"I thought their playmakers on offense were fantastic," Prince said. "They made the plays that needed to be made."

While the Texas Tech offense thrived, the K-State offense met hard times. The Wildcats point total (28) and number of total yards (296) were both their lowest marks of the season.

Freeman, the leader of the 12th-ranked passing attack in the nation leading into the contest, completed just 13 of 28 passes for 170 yards.

"We did things to hurt ourselves," Freeman said of the offense. "The first two drives we were able to move the ball, and from then on out we weren't able to get any drives going."

The Wildcats rushed for 113 yards on 36 carries, with Lamark Brown, in his second career start at running back, leading the way with 64 yards.

Prince said the lack of a viable rushing attack played a role in the struggles in the passing game.

"We couldn't get anything consistently started today in the running game," Prince said.

"You want to be able to balance (the passing attack) with being able to run the ball and control the clock," Prince said. "We were unable to do that in the second quarter at. That's where the game got legs."

The Red Raiders wasted little time finding the end zone on their first drive. Texas Tech drove 80 yards in just six plays. A 44-yard hookup between Harrell and receiver Eric Morris proved to be the big play, but the Red Raiders opened the offensive series by establishing their running game. Although they rank first in the nation in passing, the Red Raiders gained 35 yards on three rushing attempts before even attempting a pass.

K-State struck back quickly, as Freeman engineered a four-play, 68-yard drive, with all but two yards coming via the Wildcat passing attack. K-State tied the game 7-7 with a 33-yard touchdown reception by Ernie Pierce.

A Crabtree touchdown reception gave the Red Raiders a seven-point edge with just over five minutes left in the first quarter, but the Wildcats cinched it back up just 25 seconds into the second quarter on the Freeman quarterback sneak.

The Wildcats continue their trek through conference play next Saturday, as they travel to play the Texas A&M Aggies. Despite the lopsided score of their Big 12 opener, Prince said the Wildcats would patch things up.

"We will fight and compete," Prince said. "We'll get this thing turned around."

Freeman echoed his coach's statements, saying the will and determination to get be successful is there.

"I'd go watch film on A&M tonight and play tomorrow if I could," Freeman said. "I want to get this thing going and get some wins on the board."


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