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Delton’s career game wasted in loss to Oklahoma

October 23, 2017

Alex Delton slipped on his helmet and strolled behind the line of K-State players on the sideline. He picked up a ball and started to play catch with tight end Matt Jones, practicing for a play that was never going to matter.

He was minutes removed from throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah Zuber, tying No. 9 Oklahoma at 35-all Saturday with 2:25 to play at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Delton’s game of catch was rendered meaningless as he watched Oklahoma ice a 42-35 win with a 22-yard rush from Rodney Anderson with just seven seconds remaining.

For his short-lived practice, Delton earned a chance in the final seven seconds to fire a cross-field pass to wide receiver Byron Pringle, who threw it right back to the signal-caller. Delton then ran in circles before getting thrown to the ground as the clock struck zero.

Before he hit Zuber for the late score, Delton completed a 40-yard pass to Pringle. The completion moved K-State from its own 25-yard line to the Oklahoma’s 35.

Two plays later, after gaining 11 yards and losing two via rush, Delton found Pringle for another 30-yard hookup to land at Oklahoma’s 6-yard line. A frenzied home crowd grew to bedlam.

Two plays later, K-State and Oklahoma were tied.

“That’s my brother, man. I love him to death,” Delton said of Pringle. “I know if I give him a shot, he’ll make the most of it.”

Delton’s masterpiece of a performance, in just his second career start, included 27 carries for 142 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 12-of-14 passes for 144 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Aside from running back Alex Barnes’ 75-yard touchdown rush on the second play of the game, Delton engineered all of the Wildcats’ scores.

Delton scored on a 1-yard sneak in the first quarter, which he promptly followed with another touchdown rush. The latter gave K-State more rushing yards by the second quarter (222) than it had managed in the previous two games combined (210).

K-State’s offense was at full song when Delton found the end zone early in the second quarter. It was a stark contrast from a week ago, when the Wildcats managed only two field goals in a loss to TCU.

In that game, Delton mustered just 39 rushing yards.

But if people were questioning his ability to effectively lead the offense prior to Saturday, Delton couldn’t have cared less.

“I don’t really pay attention to what people say about me,” Delton said.

They might have something to say about the third quarter, however. That’s when K-State’s offense was stopped in its tracks. The Wildcats punted on both of their drives in the third period, after Delton gained one and 17 rushing yards, respectively, on the drives.

It’s also when Oklahoma clawed to within 21-20, and scored three plays into the fourth period to take its first lead of the game.

“It’s a part of the game. You have to play both halves, and we didn’t,” Delton said. “We didn’t start the second half too hot, that’s part of it. OU has a smart defense with smart coaches around.”

Delton certainly outsmarted Oklahoma in the early stages of the fourth. An inefficient first drive led to a punt, but it didn’t cost K-State. The Sooners’ ensuing drive also resulted in a punt, but the snap sailed over Austin Seibert’s head, and K-State’s Colby Moore pounced on the fumble.

Delton capitalized. He shouldered all but one rushing play, the last of which was a touchdown sneak that tied things at 28-apiece with 6:40 left.

“That’s the stuff you dream for,” Delton said. “That’s what you work so hard for.”

As well as he played, Delton wasn’t perfect.

In the second quarter, he was picked off by Oklahoma cornerback. The Sooners went on to kick a field goal that cut K-State’s lead to 21-10 just before the half ended.

“Alex, other than the interception, I thought played well,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “Overall (he) grades out pretty well. (I would) just like to have the interception back, and he would, too.”

But he’d live with that interception if it meant he had more time to lead a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

“It’s tough,” Delton said, before noting the odds stacked against him when he took over on the final possession of the game. “You realize your chances of winning go down.”