MANHATTAN, Kansas — Gary Patterson is accustomed to taking TCU to a bowl game. After all, it's happened eight straight seasons, and he's been part of 14 trips in the last 15 years.
For the first time since 2004, the Horned Frogs will be staying home.
Jack Cantele kicked a 41-yard field goal, his fourth of the game, with 3 seconds remaining to give Kansas State a thrilling 33-31 victory over TCU on Saturday.
"I thought if we could make him kick one over 40 we had a chance," said Patterson, a former Kansas State player. "He had not been good outside of 42. He hadn't been very successful."
The Horned Frogs had taken the lead on a 56-yard field goal by Jaden Oberkrom with 2:13 left, but the Wildcats (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) quickly marched down field. Jake Waters hit Tyler Lockett for 12 yards to convert a third down, and hit him again for 8 more yards to get within field-goal range.
"We really shouldn't have put them in that situation and put all of the pressure on them," TCU quarterback Casey Pachall said of his defense. "It's football and things happen."
After he knocked through the field goal, Cantele ran around in celebration.
"There was no doubt it was going in," said Cantele, who hadn't kicked a game-winner even in high school. "I don't know where I was going. I didn't know what to do."
Kansas State was penalized for excessive merriment, but the 15-yard mark-off didn't matter. TCU (4-7, 2-6) couldn't do anything with the kickoff as time expired.
"I'm not used to losing and I don't think anyone here is," TCU safety Sam Carter said.
The victory made the Wildcats bowl-eligible for the fourth consecutive year, while also dooming the Horned Frogs to a losing season.
"The bottom line is we didn't play nearly as well as I'd like us to have played," Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said, "but we played well enough to win."
Kansas State struck first when Daniel Sams, alternating at quarterback with Waters, scooted 11 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Waters then returned and hit Lockett, who had beaten TCU All-American Jason Verrett, for a 74-yard touchdown completion.
TCU finally got going when B.J. Catalon left Kansas State safety Dante Barnett grasping for air on a 15-yard touchdown run. But the Wildcats answered with a 51-yard drive, and they settled for Cantele's field goal and a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Horned Frogs took the lead in the third quarter when Trevone Boykin hit Josh Dotson in the back of the end zone from a yard out, and then Boykin took advantage of a short field caused by Sams' fumble to carry 7 yards on fourth-and-1 for the score.
In a game of wild momentum swings, Kansas State quickly took it back.
On third-and-14 from the Wildcats' 21-yard line, Waters hit Tramaine Thompson in broken coverage for a 79-yard touchdown strike — the longest for Kansas State since 2005.
Back came the Horned Frogs, who went after backup safety Dylan Schellenberg, pressed into duty after an injury to Ty Zimmerman. David Porter ran past Schellenberg and caught Pachall's 51-yard touchdown pass to give TCU a 28-24 lead late in the third quarter.
Cantele added a field goal to pull within a point, and then Kansas State took advantage of a bizarre penalty to take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs were whistled for having two players wearing No. 2 on the field during a punt, giving Kansas State enough penalty yards for a first down. The drive ended with Cantele kicking a 23-yard field goal for a 30-28 lead.
"It's the first time where that has ever happened," Patterson said of the penalty.
The Horned Frogs marched to the Kansas State 39 on their ensuing possession, but defensive end Alauna Finau got his hand on Pachall's pass on third-and-5. Patterson decided to send Oberkrom onto the field rather than punt, and his 56-yard field goal had a few yards to spare.
It turned out, though, that the Horned Frogs left too much time on the clock.
"After the field goal, I had a lot of faith in our defense," Pachall said. "I thought we were definitely going to pull this one out. It was an unfortunate turn of events. Things that happened early in the ball game prevented that, no doubt."