The 6-foot-6 Kansas State quarterback was body slammed by Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves late in the fourth quarter Saturday night. The force of the blow knocked the football loose from Freeman's hands; Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman scooped it up and carried it 34 yards for the touchdown.
"I never heard him," Freeman said. "The crowd was loud. I felt like from the look the linebackers gave us we were completely picked up. It was a complete shock to me."
The entire fourth quarter was likely a complete shock to Freeman and his fellow Wildcats.
Kansas State knocked Auburn around for three quarters, sacking Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox five times for a loss of 29 yards. The Wildcats were handling Auburn's defense pretty well, too, until Freeman took the bone-jarring blow from Groves.
Minutes earlier, Auburn had scored the go-ahead touchdown when Cox hit receiver Gabe McKenzie with a three-yard scoring pass. That pass and Freeman's fumble sealed the deal for Kansas State. They played well, but victory was elusive.
Disappointment hung heavily over the players as they spoke with the media after the game. Freeman was calm--his voice steady and his words deliberate. He appeared unshaken by the loss--just ready to begin preparing for the next game.
Of course, he won't sleep well tonight, he admitted.
"There's room to improve, and I'll improve before we play next," he said. "There are a lot of throws I'd like to take back to complete them. We had a good game plan going into the game. I really felt we had the more talented team. We just tried to get the ball into the hands of the playmakers and let them make plays. I watched a lot of film on this game. I had a good idea of what they would be doing."
Freeman said Auburn's large stadium and loud crowd didn't faze his team Saturday night. In fact, he said the SEC isn't different from the Big 12 at all. "They have a big stadium and a lot of fans, but there were points in the game when I thought our fans were doing as much as they were," he said. "Our guys came out to play. We just couldn't finish."