Thundering Herd runs over Wildcats

September 23, 1989. That day marks the last time a KSU football team lost in Manhattan to a non-conference opponent. Since that day, the Wildcats had won 41 consecutive non-conference home games. That streak, along with the nation's fourth longest overall winning streak, came to an end Saturday afternoon as the Thundering Herd from Marshall beat Kansas State in Manhattan 27-20.

The game had 6 lead changes or ties and wasn't decided until the final play of the game. Following a missed field goal by Marshall, the Cats stood at their own 29 yard line, down seven points with 87 seconds remaining.

After a nine-yard screen pass to running back Daren Sproles and a seven-yard catch by wide receiver James Terry, the Cats had 55 seconds to go 55 yards. Quarterback Jeff Schwinn then completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Davin Dennis and tried to find Terry in the endzone on the next play but Terry was unable to make the catch.

The Cats now needed 36 yards to score, but had only 36 seconds left. On the next play Schwinn, who was under heavy pressure from the blitzing Marshall defense, dumped the ball off to Sproles who broke three tackles and scooted 33 yards down inside the Marshall three-yard line.

With no timeouts left the Cats faced a first and goal and tried a quarterback sneak but were unable to score. Schwinn then spiked the ball to stop the clock but the Cats were charged with a five-yard penalty for snapping the ball before the officials started the play. After moving back to the seven-yard line, Schwinn successfully stopped the clock with eight ticks remaining.

The Cats then lined up with three receivers on the right side but Marshall countered with 4 defenders to the same side so Schwinn passed left to Sproles who got out of bounds but gained only 1 yard. On the game's final play Schwinn passed to Dennis who dove for the ball in the endzone but was unable to make the grab.

Marshall had won the game and broken a KSU streak that dated back three days shy of 14 years. September 23, 1989 against Northern Illinois marked the last time a Wildcat team lost a non-conference home football game.

When asked about the game's final play, head coach Bill Snyder said, "We wanted to find a place to throw the ball and we found it on the last down and just didn't catch it."

Following the game Snyder reflected on the loss.

"This becomes a true test of the character of everyone in this program." Snyder said, "How our football team responds, when their hopes were so high, will be the defining factor in what kind of football team we are."

"I told our team that we are not further away, from what I hoped that they really wanted to achieve, than what we were five hours ago."

One of the game's biggest surprises was Marshall's ability to run the ball against a Wildcat defense that is known for stopping the rush.

"When you go back and look at the run plays, there were two different ways of doing it." Snyder said, "There was a zone play, which is a straight handoff, and the other was a quarterback draw. With those two things, they got an awful lot of yardage."

The Thundering Herd, who is known for their passing attack, gained 210 yards on 45 carries.

The Wildcats (4-1) now have a week off before heading to Austin, Texas to start their conference season against the University of Texas Longhorns.

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