SE: Never Give Up: Wildcats Rally for First Big 12 Win

Goal No. 10 of Bill Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success is Never Give Up – a goal K-State football (4-6, 1-6 Big 12) took to heart in its 38-35 win over Iowa State (3-8, 2-6 Big 12) yesterday afternoon.

Despite trailing 35-14 heading into the locker room at halftime, the Wildcats never gave up and rallied for the biggest comeback in school history. 

“We had the mindset that we weren’t going to lose, and once you have that mindset, you can do whatever you want,” said linebacker Elijah Lee. “We’re fighters; we don’t give up until the clock strikes zero at the end of the fourth quarter.”
The win snapped K-State’s six-game losing streak and kept the hopes of bowl eligibility alive and well within the Wildcat locker room.

K-State put away 10 points in the game’s final 42 seconds – a simply unbelievable feat to all who witnessed it.

“A lot of guys were excited, they were dancing around, but I was just in shock,” laughed cornerback Morgan Burns after the game. “The way things fell, the way things happened the last minutes of the game; it was just crazy.”

With a minute and change left on the clock and K-State down by seven points, defensive tackle Will Geary stepped up to force an Iowa State fumble, and linebacker Elijah Lee was there to recover the ball on the Cyclones’ 45-yard line. 

The K-State offense opened the following drive with an impressive 42-yard pass from quarterback Joe Hubener to wide receiver Andre Davis and capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run from running back Charles Jones to tie up the game.

Another Cyclone fumble in the following drive gave the Wildcats back the ball and within field goal range. With seven seconds and 42-yards to go, it was up to kicker Jack Cantele to secure the win. 

And that’s exactly what he did. 

“I’m proud of the defense for how they came out, battled and forced two fumbles in the end,” continued Burns. “Our offense didn’t give up either; they had some big plays and Jack Cantele ended up making a great field goal. It was cool to see how defense, offense and special teams all had a big, big part in those last couple minutes and winning that game. It was crazy.”

Overall, the Wildcat defense forced eight fumbles with four recovered and were led by freshman defensive back Kendall Adams who recorded 12 tackles and one sack. Offensively, Hubener connected on 18-of-31 passes for 216 yards and had one touchdown while fullback Glenn Gronkowski also recorded a passing touchdown with a four-yard pass to fullback Winston Dimel. 

“It’s the toughness and the type of players that we have; they’re mentally tough,” said Hubener. “They’re not going to give up, and they’re not going to back down. Even when we were down 35-14 at half, we fought back... It was incredible to be able to come back like that.”  

A win like this might be just what this Wildcat team needed to get back on track.

“It was fun,” said Gronkowski. “We finally got the ball rolling our way, so to finally get a win, it’s great momentum for us moving forward. Nothing compared to that game. It was awesome to be on the winning side of it.”

Next up for the Wildcats is a trip down I-70 for the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Saturday. Kickoff against KU (0-11, 0-8 Big 12) is set for 3 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. 

“(The feeling) is indescribable,” wide receiver Kody Cook said of the win. “To get over the hump and off of our losing streak, to get a win in Big 12 play it’s huge for us. We’ve been so close for so long against great teams – TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas – to finish one just gives you confidence moving forward.”

For game notes, stats, photos and more on yesterday’s Wildcat victory, please click here

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