Wildcats Withstand Late Season Test
It was a thriller, to say the least.
K-State football's 33-31 win over TCU yesterday evening kept fans on the edge of their seats. A sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium held its breath until the final seconds of the game, but when sophomore Jack Cantele hit a 41-yard field goal and K-State stole the lead, a sigh of relief and excitement was felt by all.
"There was no doubt that it was going in," Cantele said with a big smile after the game. "It was one of the best kicks I've ever kicked, and I really didn't know how to react. I was so pumped. I just started running around, I didn't even know where I was running."
With the clock winding down, K-State trailed the Horned Frogs, 31-30, in the game's final minutes. Despite a false start penalty putting the Wildcats in a third-and-14 situation, quarterback Jake Waters and wide receiver Tyler Lockett showed poise connecting for an eight-yard pass and getting the ball to the TCU 32-yard line.
It was then that Cantele had his opportunity to shine and kick his first-ever game-winning field goal.
"When our backs are against the wall and when we need something to happen this crew can get it done," K-State offensive lineman B.J. Finney said. "We knew going into the fourth quarter that it was going to be a dog fight, and we had ourselves in position to win the ball game with a field goal, it was just a matter of going out, executing and getting it done."
The win was a significant one; it continued a four-game winning streak and put the Wildcats at six wins, an amount that guarantees K-State life in the postseason with a bowl game.
"We've had different types of victories the past few weeks," wide receiver Tramaine Thompson said. "We've had some big wins, but for us to come and close it out when it really matters, I think that gives us more confidence than anything. We really weren't thinking about (bowl eligibility), we really hadn't said anything about it all week, but for us, it's a big deal for this program to get that bowl eligibility."
Though the past four weeks saw the Wildcats take down Big 12 foes West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas Tech and now TCU, getting to and through the winning streak wasn't an easy road traveled.
As a matter of fact, it was a rough, tough uphill battle. From a season-opening loss three months ago to back-to-back-to-back Big 12 losses (Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor), K-State football has been able to overcome odds, come together and form a bond, a brotherhood, that continues to grow each day.
"I think it says a lot about how far the character has come on this team, about how together we are," senior linebacker Blake Slaughter said. "I saw a lot of guys pulling for each other. We were out there, it was third down, and we were talking saying, 'Let's do it for each other, let's get it done,' and these are just guys that care. That means the world to me, as a team having guys out there that I know are giving their all, giving 100 percent, because that's all I can ask for."
While the Wildcats have come a long way this season, head coach Bill Snyder knows there is always room for improvement.
"We've gotten better and better as we've worked through the course of the season," Snyder said. "We're learning, and it's not just about football. I think they have a little bit of a better understanding of what it really takes to succeed. The most important thing is that they have made a genuine commitment to doing the things that they have realized really make a difference in how well they succeed and how well they play. Were a far a better football team than we were (in game one)."
K-State football takes on Oklahoma next weekend for its final home competition of the 2013 season. The game is set for 11 a.m. in Bill Snyder Family Stadium and will be aired on FOX Sports 1.