SE: Burns Does it Again!

Following back-to-back-to-back Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week awards, Morgan Burns was a rock star again with the Wildcat special teams unit.

Last night, the senior cornerback from Wichita, Kansas, celebrated his final home game in Bill Snyder Family Stadium with a 24-23 win over West Virginia (7-5,4-5 Big 12).

And he had the game-winning touchdown. 

“All the credit goes to the kickoff return unit, they do a great job blocking,” said Burns about his game-winning, 97-yard kickoff return touchdown. “They make me look a lot better than I really am. Special teams built the momentum for the second half, then the offense and defense kind of fed off of that. It was a great way to finish my senior season.” 

His four kickoff return touchdowns this season (South Dakota, Texas Tech, Iowa State and West Virginia) are tied for the K-State and Big 12 Conference single season records with Brandon Banks who also had four in 2009. Burns also etched his name in the K-State record book earlier this season when he became the first player in school history to record two 100-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns in a single season. 

But, if he had to choose a favorite kickoff return touchdown, last night’s was certainly it. 

“Being on Senior Day, my last game in the stadium, this is my favorite one,” said Burns with a smile. “This game meant a lot to me. To play for the seniors, have my team have the chance to go to a bowl game and have a winning season, it’s definitely, by far, my favorite.”

This season, Burns has a total of 1,047 kickoff return yards on 31 returns. 

“Once again, I’m very impressed (with Morgan),” said K-State head coach Bill Snyder after the game. “But it’s not just Morgan. There are a whole bunch of guys that kind of help make that take place and they did, but he gets in the end zone and does the things that he does. He’s a tremendously talented, gifted young guy.”

It wasn’t just Burns who stepped up his game on Senior Day, senior wide receiver Kody Cook played with a vengeance as well. 

With quarterback Joe Hubener taken off the field with an injury in the game’s third quarter, it was up to Cook, one of the team’s top receivers, to take the reins. 

Cook came out with confidence. He rushed 19 times for 34 yards and one touchdown and connected on 4-of-12 passes for 121 yards and one touchdown. His best play of the night came with 11:14 to go in the third quarter when he connected on a 77-yard touchdown pass to Deante Burton, the team’s longest play from scrimmage this season.

“I came in, tried to stay calm and do what I needed to do to help this team win a game,” said Cook after the game. “Offense played great, defense played amazing and Morgan had a great play to seal the game for us.”

Last night’s victory was the final game in Bill Snyder Family Stadium for 18 Wildcat seniors (Aaron Bennett, Reed Bergstrom, Travis Britz, Marquel Bryant, Morgan Burns, Jack Cantele, Dalton Converse, Kody Cook, Andre Davis, Luke Hays, Nate Jackson, Kyle Klein, Matt Kleinsorge, Jordan Kupersmith, Boston Stiverson, Stanton Weber, Cody Whitehair and Dillon Wilson), and while this season may have had its ups and downs, this group can say they never gave up. 

They ended their story in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on a high note. 

“It’s been a dream for me to play here,” senior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair said after the game. “It’s sad to see it coming to an end. I’m going to miss these guys, this team, these coaches and I’m going to miss Coach Snyder. Before the game it really didn’t sink in because I had a game to win and wanted to be as focused as I could be, but after the game, taking that last lap around the stadium, it really hit me that I’m not going to play another game here. It kind of hurts, but I know I have 120 brothers that leave this place and those relationships last forever.” 

Added defensive tackle Travis Britz, “You can’t really explain it. Running out of the tunnel for the last time, getting to experience the fans, seeing your family on the field when they call your name, it was tough, but we came through and used it to our advantage.”

Last night’s game closed regular season play for K-State football (6-6, 3-6 Big 12). With the win, the Wildcats turned around a six-game losing streak and secured a spot in a bowl game.  In fact, they became just the sixth Power 5 team in the 12-game schedule era (2006) to stave off bowl elimination in at least three-straight games (2-6 or 3-6 records) and make the postseason.

K-State’s bowl destination will be announced later this afternoon. Stay tuned to kstatesports.com for more information on the Wildcats’ upcoming bowl berth. 

For photos, video highlights, stats and more on last night’s Wildcat victory, please click here

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