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September 12, 2009

Wildcats sputter in trip to Bayou

LAFAYETTE , La -- So much for the hydration hoopla that surrounded the week leading up to Kansas State's game at Louisiana. The Wildcats 17-15 loss to the Rajin' Cajuns on a wet and uncharacteristically mild 76-degree Pelican State evening unfolded on a weekend that saw the Cats' only heat generated by junior tailback Daniel Thomas, who racked up 136 rushing yards in an otherwise embarrassing offensive performance.

"We have to improve our consistency on offense , but we've got to get better at all of it," Coach Bill Snyder, whose team converted just three of its 16 third-down plays, said following the game.

Outside of Thomas, there were few bright spots. Saturday's contest featured a pair of missed field goals, one shanked extra point, a botched hold on another field goal and a pair of equally ineffective quarterbacks routinely missing receivers. It was a mix of ingredients that left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone on the roster and the Wildcats with a 1-1 record.

"I just hurt for the defense right now," starting quarterback Carson Coffman, who completed just 13 of his 25 passing attempts while tossing an interception failing to find the end zone, said. "I let them down. The defense did all they could. They played awesome and held them to three points in the second half. We just couldn't get it done on offense."

But even without anything the resembled an effective passing game, the Wildcats still managed to make quite a game of their first loss of 2009, forcing their opponents to convert a 48-yard field goal from Louisiana place kicker Tyler Albrecht to beat them in the contest's waning moments.

"When we got up 15-14, I started preparing mentally because I knew if we got down there, they'd put me in," Albecht, whose game-winning kick was his first collegiate attempt, said "There was a lot of focus there.

"I had already made it before I kicked it."

After riding Thomas, who had a hand in both of the Wildcats' touchdowns, passing for one and running for the other out of K-State's newly unveiled "Wildcat" formation, for 70 yards and ultimately into the end zone late in the third quarter, K-State staked claim to a 15-14 lead with just more than 8:00 to play.

As it turned out, however, any celebration going on in Wildcatland was premature.

"It's probably disheartening to a lot of people, not just me and our coaches and our football team," Snyder said of the narrow loss. "It is what it is and we knew what we were getting into."

At this point the sample size is doubly as large, and the same concerns that surrounded Snyder's team after its first game a week ago still remain and now loom larger than ever.

"Some young guys need to step up and grow up very quickly," Snyder said.

Both Coffman and backup Grant Gregory took snaps in the loss, but neither proved participle effective, prompting Snyder to stick with his anointed starter, no matter how bad things became.

No, Saturday's tilt was a contest that didn't feature many positives, especially early on, but K-State's second brightest moment of the first half, though still somewhat dim, came early.

Late in the first quarter, the Louisiana offense spotted the Wildcats two points when a bad snap bounced off of the hand of Cajun quarterback Chris Mason, who picked the ball up and ran a half circle in the end zone before deciding to run out of bounds and concede a safety and allow K-State to the game's first lead.

Not so surprisingly, though, two-point advantage didn't hold up for very long.

With 9:37 remaining in the half, Louisiana embarked on a seven-play, 61-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 13-yard touchdown run by Ragin' Cajuns tailback Undrea Sails that gave the home tea, a 7-2 lead on which to build.

And build they would.

The home team stretched its lead to 12 with time expiring in the first half when Masson, who threw for 185 yards and a score in the contest, found wide receiver Luke Aubrey wide open on the right side of the end zone for a one-yard touchdown pass, allowing Louisiana to hit the halftime locker room with a somewhat-comfortable 14-2 lead.

No facet of K-State's second game of 2009 effort was anything near perfect, but it's not as if the Wildcats' defense, which gave up only three points in the second half, didn't afford its counterpart with a few opportunities. In fact, such opportunities came early and often.

Yeah, it was that kind of night for the K-State offense as the missed chances seemed to just kept coming, especially in the early going.

After senior linebacker John Houlik picked off a pass a deep in Ragin' Cajun territory seven minutes into the second quarter, the Wildcats had the chance to draw level or take a lead , but then the same special teams problems that haunted Snyder's team a week ago, resurfaced.

After advancing the ball to 14-yard line, back-to-back penalties pushed the K-State offense back to the 29, before a botched hold by Ryan Doerr sabotaged a field goal attempt that would have drew K-State back within two.

It was the second of what ended up being three negative plays in Wildcats' the kicking game, along two other missed field goal and an extra point that smacked the upright.

Place kicker Josh Cherry's best day it certainly was not.

"The first one got tipped to the right there," Cherry who is now 0-for-3 on field goal attempts on the season, said. The second one just all my fault, though"

Sails finished the game with 81 yards in 20 carries for the Cajuns, while Mavin Miller led all Louisiana receivers with six catches for 47 yards.

Tight end, Jeron Mastrud, who was on the receiving end of Thomas' fourth-quarter touchdown pass, was one of four Wildcats to make multiple catches, joining, among others, Attrail Snipes who led the team with three receptions for 78 yards.

K-State will play its second consecutive road game next Saturday when it travels to Pasadena, Calif. For a game with 2-0 UCLA.



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