SE: K-State Football Claims Governor’s Cup

November 29, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart

LAWRENCE, Kansas – From start to finish, yesterday afternoon’s Dillons Sunflower Showdown was jam-packed with excitement for Wildcat fans. K-State (5-6, 2-6 Big 12) defeated the Kansas Jayhawks (0-12, 0-9 Big 12), 45-14, and escorted the Governor’s Cup home to Manhattan for the seventh consecutive season. 

“I’m glad we won. We played well enough to do so and that’s a plus,” said K-State head coach Bill Snyder after the game. “(The Sunflower Showdown) means an awful lot. I appreciate all the people in the state of Kansas; everybody has a side and it means a lot to so many people. It means a lot to KU people just as it does to K-State people and that makes it very meaningful.” 

For Wildcat senior cornerback and Wichita native Morgan Burns, yesterday’s victory was bittersweet. 

“I was a little emotional before the game,” Burns said about playing in his final Sunflower Showdown. “I was talking to the secondary because I usually address them before the game, and I didn’t know what to say. I was emotional. These are my last couple of games and coming down here, I just wanted to do anything I could to help the guys be successful. So it was an emotional game. It was fun. There was a lot of energy and passion to the game; there was no better way to go out with this rivalry than how we did. “

Burns’ passion and energy was a key component in the Wildcats’ victory. He recorded a special teams touchdown after recovering a blocked Jayhawk punt in the end zone putting K-State up, 21-7, in the first quarter. Back on defense only seconds after his touchdown, Burns recorded his first interception of the season as he picked off a long pass from Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis. 

“Being able to score on special teams is important to us, so for (Burns) to do that, then turn right around and get a pass interception about 10 or 15 seconds later, that’s pretty dynamic,” said Snyder. “I was pleased and proud of him.”

While Burns played with added emotion in his final Sunflower Showdown, redshirt freshman and Manhattan native Winston Dimel played with added excitement in his first KU game. 

“It means so much. Growing up in this state you have friends who are K-State fans and friends who are KU fans,” said Dimel who recorded two first-quarter touchdowns – a 12-yard rush and a one-yard rush – in the game. “It’s always a rivalry between friends, so it’s fun to have bragging rights. I’m just, overall, glad that we got this victory as a team.”

Sluggish starts have been somewhat of a trend for the Wildcats this season, however yesterday K-State didn’t follow suit. The game opened with a three-and-out by the Wildcat defense followed by a quick touchdown from Dimel in the offense’s first drive.

And things only got better from there. 

The Cats put up 28 points in the first quarter alone, and the defense recorded two sacks (both by Jordan Willis) and grabbed one interception (Burns). 

“I was proud of the guys; we came out with a sense of urgency,” said senior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair. “We talked about starting well, and we felt like we really did that today.”

Overall, quarterback Joe Hubener was efficient - completing 10 of 17 passes for 133 yards and rushing 17 times for a team-leading 88 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Elijah Lee led the Wildcats with a team-leading eight tackles.

“This game is huge,” said Hubener. “It’s a special feeling being a Kansas kid and beating KU because growing up this was the game that let you talk trash to your buddies. So it’s special to be a part of that and to make those moments for other kids across this state.”

K-State concludes its regular season this Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. matchup against the West Virginia Mountaineers (7-4, 4-4 Big 12) at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Saturday’s game will be aired nationally on FOX Sports 1 as the Cats look to become bowl-eligible on Senior Day.

“Every year we get to see that Governors Cup in our locker room and as long as I’ve been here it’s always been there,” said Burns. “For the seniors, we didn’t want to go out changing that tradition. If felt really good and it was really important that we beat (KU).” 

For game notes, stats, highlights, photos and more on K-State’s Sunflower Showdown victory, please click here