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October 16, 2011

Wildcats work more magic

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Even Bill Snyder found it hard to fully explain. Texas Tech played its style of game, rolled up yards and plays, statistically dominating the 17th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats. None of that mattered as the Wildcats again scratched out a victory for the sixth time this season, leaving Jones AT&T Stadium with a 41-34 on Saturday night after trailing by eight at halftime.

The win moves the Wildcats to 6-0 on the season as they head to Lawrence next Saturday for an 11 a.m. against the rival Kansas Jayhawks.

"I'm awfully happy for them," Snyder said. "It's not the first time they have come back, but to do it time and time again is an extremely positive thing. I appreciate their effort. I appreciate their toughness. I appreciate their willingness to make a commitment."

Down 28-20 at halftime after proving to be mostly inept offensively for 30 minutes, the Wildcats took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 77 yards in eight plays to pull within one, 28-27.

K-State covered the final three yards when quarterback Collin Klein threw a perfect fade pass to Chris Harper in the back of the end zone. K-State's 77 yards on that drive nearly matched its 94 yards in the entire first half.

That possession seemed to redefine the game. K-State's defense, after giving up 387 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, made a series of huge plays, including picking off two Seth Doege passes (three for the game) and forcing Tech's quarterback into a fumble. No play was bigger, though, than stopping the Red Raiders from picking up a first down after an on-side kick recovery gave the home team a final chance.

"I'm looking at the stat sheet and they completed 43 passes and had 580 yards of offense," Snyder said. "We probably just slowed them down a bit, and when you get turnovers that slowed it down and we were moving the ball a little bit on offense and we ate up a little more time."

K-State scored on drives of 77 and 73 yards in the second half to take a 34-31 lead, but then a Tysyn Hartman interception set the Wildcats up at the Tech 22 with 10:52 remaining in the game. Klein ran 25 yards to the 2 and one play later pushed in from the 1 to make it a 41-31 game.

Tech added a late field goal and converted its on-side kick attempt, but then the K-State defense rose to occasion, turning the ball back over to Klein and the offense.

Tech picked up 32 first downs to K-State's 16 and outgained the Cats 580-339. Tech ran 95 plays to K-State's 65, K-State did hold nearly a seven-minute advantage in time of possession, but the Wildcats also committed an uncharacteristic 10 penalties.

The most critical stat, though? Tech's four turnovers to K-State's none.

"Give credit to Kansas State," Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "That's how they've won all year long. They don't do anything special. … They took advantage of their opportunities and we didn't take advantage of ours. We had too many missed opportunities."

Tech dominated the first half in all but one statistical category: The score. The Red Raiders rolled up nearly 400 yards of offense, while the Wildcats only gained 94. Tech even possessed the ball longer than K-State (15:57-14:03) in the first hald.

Still, K-State trailed only 28-20 at the break thanks to a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown by Nigel Malone and a 100-yard kickoff return by Tyler Lockett. K-State defensive tackle Raphael Guidry also blocked two Red Raider field goal attempts.

Lockett's return answered a Tech touchdown that gave it a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

""It had a huge effect," Lockett said. "At the time, Texas Tech had the momentum and the momentum shifted just like that. We had the energy and ability to finish before halftime."

One of those blocked field goals was picked up by Malone and returned 30 yards to the Tech 46. K-State proceeded to piece together its one drive of substance in the first half, going 46 yards on nine plays and accounting for almost half of the team's offensive yardage in the first 30 minutes.

The drive was capped by Klein ducking into the end zone from a yard out to give K-State a 20-14 lead with 4:55 remaining in the first half, but Tech's quick-strike offense would score two quick touchdowns to take a 28-20 halftime lead.

K-State responded by outscoring the Raiders 21-6 in the final two quarters, winning its fifth game of the year by seven or fewer points.

"When we went into halftime, we got adjusted to their speed. They're a fast team," linebacker Tre Walker said. "We just realized we had to come in, regroup, get it together and realize we made some mistake, but we pulled through in the second half."

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