ARLINGTON, Texas — The record seemed hollow for Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein without a victory.
Klein matched the Big 12 overall record and the FBS mark for quarterbacks with his 27th rushing touchdown Friday night, but the 11th-ranked Wildcats ended their season with a 29-16 loss to seventh-ranked Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.
"It's overshadowed by our ability as a group. We came up short," Klein said. "My heart just goes out to our seniors. We weren't able to send them out the right way."
Kansas State (10-3) was trying to match a school record with 11 victories, but still finished a surprising season in coach Bill Snyder's second Wildcats turnaround. K-State won 11 games six times during a seven-year span in Snyder's first tenure before his three-year retirement, and almost reached that mark again in his third season back.
Joe Adams had his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season, tying the SEC record and giving Arkansas a 10-0 lead in the second quarter before even getting a first down. All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson threw two touchdown passes after that.
The Razorbacks (11-2) tied their school record for wins in a season, losing only to No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama — their SEC West rivals who will play for the BCS national championship Monday night.
After fielding the ball near midfield, Adams took a few steps back before squirting through a gap past several defenders. He got all the way to the opposite sideline and got his path cleared by one last block from Javontee Herndon downfield for a 51-yard return, the first or a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl in 51 years.
"It obviously made a major difference," Snyder said. "We knew he's a talented player. We knew that he could make you miss him. .... The players were probably tired of me talking about being able to contain Joe Adams and not let him bounce the ball outside. Sure enough he bounced it outside."
After being held to 15 yards on 12 carries in the first half, Klein finished the opening drive of the third quarter with a 6-yard TD run that got the Wildcats to 19-16. That came after Klein had a 15-yard run on the previous play.
That matched the Big 12 record for rushing touchdowns held by 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams of Texas. The only other FBS quarterback with 27 rushing touchdowns in a season was Ricky Dobbs for Navy in 2009.
Klein finished with 42 yards on 24 carries, while completing 16 of 30 passes for 173 yards.
Wildcats defensive end Meshak Williams was injured at the end of the first half, when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Emmanuel Lamur when both were trying to tackle Wilson, who put his head down to avoid the hit.
Williams remained down on the field for several minutes being tended to by medical personnel and then placed on a stretcher. He gave a thumbs-up signal when being placed on a cart, then when he was being driving off the field extended his right arm high and flashed a Wildcat sign.
Kansas State officials said after the game that Williams had already been released from the hospital and was going back to the hotel to join the team. They said he was moving all extremities and doing OK.
Adams, who had five catches for only 22 yards Friday, was the only FBS player this season with multiple punt returns for TDs, along with rushing and receiving scores.
"It was another one of those where you just go, Wow!" coach Bobby Petrino said. "You could see when he made the catch he had in mind what he was going to do."
The last punt return for a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl also was by a Razorback, when Lance Alworth had a 49-yard return in a 7-6 loss to Duke in the 1961 game.
The only other 11-win seasons for the Razorbacks were by the Lou Holtz-coached team in 1977 and coach Frank Broyles' only undefeated season at Arkansas in 1964.
A member of that 1964 team that won the Cotton Bowl over Nebraska was Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who attended the game in his $1.2 billion stadium that opened in 2009. He was part of a loud crowd of 80,956.
The Cotton Bowl was the only non-BCS game with both teams in the top 15 of the Bowl Championship Series standings — Arkansas came in sixth, Kansas State eighth. It also is the only bowl featuring the SEC vs. the Big 12, the top two conferences in the BCS computer rankings.
The Razorbacks didn't even get a first down until 12½ minutes left in the first half when Dennis Johnson opened a drive with a 28-yard run. That drive ended with the second of Zach Hocker's three field goals, a 22-yarder.
Arkansas led 19-0 when Wilson threw a 45-yard TD pass to Jarius Wright with 4 minutes left in the first half.
Kansas State, which has lost its last four bowl games since beating Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl, blocked the extra point and Nigel Malone returned it for two points.
It was 19-9 at halftime after Klein threw a 3-yard TD pass to Andrew McDonald with 26 seconds left in the first half. That score was set up after Wilson was sacked by Adam Davis and fumbled at the Razorbacks 13.Comment on this story
Arkansas led 3-0 after Jake Bequette sacked Klein and forced a fumble, setting up Hocker's 26-yard field goal.
Klein's fumble came on a second-and-33 play after a sequence that started with his 20-yard run to inside Arkansas territory being wiped out by an illegal shift penalty. He was sacked on the next play before a holding call and a false start pushed the ball all the way back to the 20.
"We got off to an awfully bad start and really couldn't overcome the damage that we did," Snyder said. "And most of it was pretty obvious."
The Cotton Bowl is sponsored by AT&T.