It was only a win over Iowa State, of course--not the sort of win we would typically get all excited about. But this season, things are different. We finally won a game after losing six straight times. We finally capitalized on the other team's mistakes. But most importantly, we were finally worthy of the sort of combination of luck, execution, and sheer WTFery that Kansas State almost never gets.
Let's forget about Iowa State putting the ball on the ground twice in the waning minutes of the game. Instead, let's focus on other things instead: the defense--mostly absent for the first half--suddenly came alive in the second, not allowing Iowa State a single point in the process. An offense that could barely move the ball in the first half somehow managed to drive the length of the field twice. Joe Hubener not only completed more than 50% of his passes, but actually had a couple of clutch throws that kept the momentum on the purple side of the field, including the 4th down pass to Kody Cook that brought Kansas State to within a score. The playcalling was unusually creative--a fullback throwing to a fullback--are you kidding me? Finally, Jack Cantele redeemed his entire career with a game-winning 42-yard field goal.
In context, this is just one win, and not even one that made Kansas State bowl-eligible. But this sort of win--crazy, unexpected, wonderful--can change a season's momentum. It can be the spark a beleaguered team needs to turn things around. It can be the joy that motivates a team to try harder. It can be the hope that brings a fanbase back from the brink. It can be the reason Kansas State goes to a bowl this year. Anything is possible.
Then again, it's not like everything is fixed now. As Jon Morse noted in his recap, there's still plenty to be concerned about: K-State 38, I-State 35--Five things we're still mad about.
This game had miraculous turnaround written all over it, but as Max Olson of ESPN notes, Kansas State's remarkable 10-point rally was also a result of great execution in all facets of the game. Will Geary had to strip Mike Warren and Elijah Lee had to scoop the fumble up. Hubener had to march the team 55 yards for the game-tying score. Marquel Bryant had to force Joel Lanning to cough up the ball and Charmeachealle Moore had to fall on it. Finally, Jack Cantele had to banish the ghosts of last year's Auburn game to kick the game-winning field goal. These things were not mere luck. They were the end result of practice, planning, and determination, and the team deserves enormous props.
For most players, this was the most insane finish to a game ever (Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle). Kody Cook summed it up well:
That is the craziest football game I have been part of, by far. I have been playing football since fifth grade. I have won on a Hail Mary pass and we did all kinds of crazy stuff in high school, but nothing like that.
A wild celebration followed and even Bill Snyder said he'd never witnessed anything like it in "the couple hundred years" he's been at Kansas State. That's saying something, all things considered. This win may be second only to that seminal 1989 win over North Texas for the impact it has on the program, and that's not hyperbole.
Kansas State has not led at the half in 20 quarters of football. The team heard the same half-time message as always and went out to play with determination and desperation as always. This time, it actually paid off (Kevin Haskin, Topeka Capital-Journal).
To really appreciate just how miraculous this win was, it's worth noting that it was nearly statistically impossible for Kansas State to pull it off:
How improbable was K-State's comeback yesterday? Per @ESPNStatsInfo, KSU had 1.3% chance of beating ISU with 1:31 to go.— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 22, 2015
And speaking of tweets about yesterday's game, this happened:
There is no doubt at all...The Fat Lady is singing!— Mark Mangino (@KeepSawinWood) November 21, 2015
Mangino spent the rest of the afternoon gleefully retweeting angry messages from Iowa State fans.
Troll on, coach, troll on.
There's only so much luck to go around, and since the football team had taken nearly all of it, there wasn't enough left for the VolleyCats. Kansas State fell to No. 5 Texas in four sets 3-1, snapping a six-match winning streak.
Although the Wildcats took the first set, the team was no match for Texas on offense, as the Longhorns hit .386 for the match, the highest hit percentage given up by Kansas State this season, and the first time any team has hit for more than .300 against the Wildcats this season.
Still, there were some positives for the team. Junior Brooke Sassin's excellent year continued, as she tallied 48 kills and added 13 digs for her 13th double-double this season. Katie Brand led the team with 40 assists and 12 digs, a team-leading 17th double-double for her. Freshman Alyssa Schultejans and junior Katie Reininger had nine kills each and Bryna Vogel had seven.
The VolleyCats will take the loss into their last weekend of regular season play, which opens with the Sunflower Showdown match on Wednesday night.