MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Oklahoma has made a habit of squandering early leads much of this season.
The Sooners went the other way Saturday night.
Rodney Anderson ran 22 yards for the go-ahead score with 7 seconds left, Baker Mayfield threw for 410 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, and the nation’s ninth-ranked team overcame a 21-10 halftime deficit to beat Kansas State 42-35 and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Anderson finished with 147 yards rushing and also caught a TD pass for the Sooners (6-1, 3-1 Big 12), who shredded the overmatched defense of the Wildcats (3-4, 1-3) over the final 30 minutes.
“Our guys at halftime had a great look in their eye. They were determined to come out and play a lot better,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “But the mentality really went to another level there in the locker room at halftime. They were really ready to play.”
Kansas State sophomore Alex Delton’s first career touchdown pass with 2:25 left it tied at 35, but Mayfield and Anderson calmly went to work. The Heisman Trophy candidate hit a series of throws downfield before Anderson took a carry around the left side for the decisive score.
“As a leadership group, we took care of it and handled it,” Mayfield said. “That’s a huge win for us, considering we haven’t played well in the second half most of the season.”
Making his second career start, Delton finished with 161 yards rushing and three TDs while going 12 of 14 for 144 yards through the air. Alex Barnes added 108 yards and a touchdown on just six carries.
It was the Sooners’ nation-leading 14th consecutive true road victory, and it extended their run of dominance in Manhattan. They haven’t lost to the Wildcats in their home stadium since 1996.
“I’m tired of coming into the locker room under such circumstances,” said Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, whose team has lost three straight to the Sooners. “We’ve lost far too many games. You have to play complete games in this conference. One half won’t do it.”
It was Kansas State that was rolling early, though, with Barnes taking a handoff up the middle on the game’s second play for a 75-yard TD run. The Sooners needed a couple minutes for Mayfield to provide the answer, but his touchdown toss to tight end Mark Andrews was his highlight of the half.
Mayfield threw a pick in the end zone on the Sooners’ ensuing possession, just his second of the season. Then he was inexplicably split wide as Oklahoma went to the Wildcat set in short-yardage spots.
Kansas State stuffed Trey Sermon and Dimitri Flowers for no gain on consecutive plays to force one turnover on downs, then dumped Flowers for a loss at the goal line to force a field goal.
Delton’s two touchdown runs staked Kansas State to a 21-10 lead at the break.
“It was still important for us to play that last 30 minutes,” Snyder said.
Indeed, whatever momentum the Wildcats took into the locker room stayed there, because Mayfield and the Sooners got going in the second half. They tromped 80 yards for a touchdown on their first possession, 69 yards for a field goal on their second and 93 yards for another touchdown on their third.
The 2-point conversion gave them a 28-21 lead with 14:19 left, their first of the game.
It took a snap over punter Austin Seibert’s head midway through the fourth quarter for the Wildcats to draw even, which they did on Delton’s third TD run. But Mayfield’s 66-yard pitch-and-catch to Marquise Brown set up a go-ahead TD toss to Anderson with 5:16 to go.
Kansas State drove downfield to tie it at 35 on Delton’s first career TD pass, but it came with 2:25 still on the clock. And that was enough time for Oklahoma to score one more time.
“You’re trying to turn the tide and start the season over,” Kansas State defensive tackle Will Geary said. “When they score like that, it just takes away all your spirit.”
Oklahoma showed off its deep stable of offensive weapons. Mayfield had with 69 yards rushing, Brown had six catches for 126 yards and tight end Mark Andrews had a team-high seven catches for 61 yards. That helped make up for freshman running back Trey Sermon, who had just four carries for 18 yards.
Kansas State made strides offensively from last week’s dismal showing against TCU, when it managed 216 yards total offense. The Wildcats had 202 in the first quarter alone. But it was the defense that let them down this time, keeping them from their first home win over a Top 10 opponent since 2006.
Oklahoma returns home to play Texas Tech on Saturday night.
Kansas State heads down Interstate 70 to face Kansas on Saturday.
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