"Matters of the Heart"

I love college football and I gotta tell y'all ‘ol Memorial is a great place to watch it. But, it's hardwork. When you're playin the Cornhuskers ya' gotta bring it all day long for the entire game. For me that means a lot of tense moments. I told the better half this mornin' that nobody was gonna steal my joy after this one.

Kansas State 38 vs. Nebraska 9

Memorial Stadium – Lincoln, NE

November 15, 2003

"Matters of the Heart"

HEY FOLKS, how's it goin'? Just getting' back from this thing and my blood is still pumpin'. Road trippin' in the Big XII conference is a great thing, ‘specially headin' up north to Big Red country. I love college football and I gotta tell y'all ‘ol Memorial is a great place to watch it. But, it's hardwork. When you're playin the Cornhuskers ya' gotta bring it all day long for the entire game. For me that means a lot of tense moments. I told the better half this mornin' that nobody was gonna steal my joy after this one.

I know I'm just a fan and all I gotta do is watch the game. But, y'all know that we suffer during the low times and enjoy it like heck during the high times. Folks, I look at a college football program like the body. The head; well, that's the coachin' staff….and we got us a pretty good head. The arms and legs, well that's the players….and we're strong and fast. But, the fans….oh the fans….they're the heart of it all. The heart…that's where the passion runs deep, that's where the blood is pumpin'. Ya gotta have a good heart to make it all run well.

Those folks in Nebraska, they've had a strong heart for a long time. They've sold ‘ol Memorial out 262 consecutive times, they make it loud in there, they stay in it ‘till the end. I've been goin' to games up there since 1987 and I saw somethin' I never thought I'd see. That ‘ol "HEART" was bleedin'. The red was runnin' outta that stadium with ten minutes left in the game and they couldn't get a tourniquet on it. It was an awesome site to see.

So I'm feelin' good about this one. This is the first time I head north that I truly believe we're gonna win the game. Everbody I talked to had that belief too. We just knew we were gonna win this game. Even when Ell started talkin' early in the week it didn't worry me….there's somethin' different about this team….they were ready. We get in the south end zone and we're surrounded by Red and I'm shakin'.

The coin toss sets the stage for this whole thing. Roberson and Lord pick up their little love-fest right from the get-go and I know it's gonna be a good day for the purples. We win the toss and defer and I figger that defense is ready, but first I'm worried about our coverage. We seem to have that fixed as they only bring it sixteen yards to start from their own 23.

On first down they run right and get a little seam. Ross shakes for six and Sims and Berry bring him down. On second down Ross goes ISO up the middle for one and it's third down. We string Lord out on the option for nothin' and it's a three and out. Larson hits a sweet boomer angled out of bounds at the seventeen and here comes the roar.

I gotta tell y'all I think that's as loud as it got all day. They were loud and when ya cram 78,000 in the way they do…it can't help but be loud. But, I didn't think it was all that much. So the O comes out throwin' on the first play and it's incomplete to Sproles…that's a new wrinkle. Sproles comes back for one up the middle and it's third and long. They muster up the noise, but it ain't enough. Roberson hits Terry for 13 and the first. We bonehead it up with a substitution infraction and have to move back. That puts the brakes on that little move as Sproles goes for three and then Roberson goes incomplete twice. Brite hits a decent one down to the 28 that Josh Davis brings back to the 36 and here comes Nebraska.

They pull out the reverse on the first play for 13 to their wide receiver. I poke the better half and whisper…"if their pullin' out the trick stuff this early it's gonna be a long day for them." Lord comes back on a keeper for 12. Now it's Ross up the middle for nothin', Ross over the right side for 2 and Lord incomplete. Nebraska's tryin' to pin us and they almost do, but it rolls in the endzone for the touchback.

Here comes the O again and we need to get it goin'. We don't we can only muster 8 yards on 3 plays and it's a sparrin' match. The better half doesn't like the field position battle….because Nebraska's winnin' it…..and neither do I. Well, Jared Brite stepped up and did somethin' about it. He hit a 63 yarder that was downed at the 9 and we're givin' ourselves a little room.

So they come out and go to a toss-sweep to Ross for a gain of 12. Lord goes incomplete and then comes back to Ross for six. Lord hits a sweet pass on the sideline to Herian and gets a first down. Now the Lynch Mob bows it's back and holds. Kriewald goes for one, then we string out the option for nothin' and third down is an incompletion. Larson shanks a 32 yarder downed at our own 25.

Here comes the O. Ell goes for 11 on first down and gets the first down. We come back to Sproles for one. Well, we've been jabbin' and it's time to swing hard and see if we can get a break. Ell throws it deep to Terry and lets him go get it. Nebraska has their hands on it, but can't knock it down. It bounces off and Terry grabs it as he's fallin' down. We got us a 40 yard pass and catch…….and a break. Since we got ‘em reelin' we try another pass and it's incomplete on second down. It's an option headin' south and to the short-side. I'm screamin' when we run it, because we got ‘em outnumbered. Ell makes a sweet pitch to Sproles and he's got a head of steam. Wilson paves the way and Sproles has gotta beat one man. He jukes him and I think I hear his ankles crack. A NU defensive back grabs little Darren at about the seven and I'm yellin', "C'MON DARREN, C'MON DARREN, WANT IT DARREN!!!!!"…..He did, he drug that defender the last six yards and we were high-fivin'. Willie was doin' pushups we were countin' ‘em. Then came that sweet purple sound…that must've been eery for all those Cornhuskers…..K-S-U WILDCATS!! K-S-U WILDCATS!! KKK-SSS-UUU WILDCATS!!!! Right in the middle of that when the shock kinda wore off the somebody finally struck up the Corn band to drown us out….but it wadn't gonna happen on this day.

This time Rheem hits it outta the endzone and they're startin' on their 20. Ross goes for nine on first and five on second. Lord goes incomplete and then rushes for four. We stop ‘em for four on third down and the quarter runs out. Their puntin' south now. Well, ‘ol Darren put his hand up for a fair catch and then took off again. So we get penalized to the four…..and the Husker fans get a little life in ‘em ‘cause they're smellin' blood. I tell the better half, "It's time to go 96…whadya think?"

Well here comes the O movin' north. We run quarterback counter over the left side for a gain of 4 yards and that blackskirt defense has nightmares of that play…cause Ell took it to the house 92 yards on the same play. On second down he comes back with a counter over the right guard for a gain of six and the first. Now we substitute wrong again and we're first and fifteen. Ell finds Brian Casey streakin' wide open down the middle for a 37 yard gain. I gotta tell y'all that was a sweet play to watch from the endzone. It just opened up and I screamed, "THROW IT!" He did and we were goin' now. Now we come back and pop ‘em with the fullback up the middle, Wilson gets four. Roberson goes for five and it's third and short. We come back with the jumbo boys and power for four and the first down. I yell, "Now that's playin' football." Keep runnin' it. We don't…we go for the big play and Bullocks is playin' centerfield back there and gets the INT in the endzone…he brings it back to the 40.

Well that gives ‘em a little life. Nebraska just feeds off defensive turnovers and this time is no different. First down is incomplete. On second down they toss sweep right for 16 to Ross. Now Lord goes for two on a strung out option to the right and then he makes three when he shouldn't of and the ‘ol Sker duffer next to me yells, "Now that's football!" And I agree. On third and five the Huskers reach into their bag of tricks and pull out a screen pass to Ross. He motors 26 yards for a play down to our twelve and they're movin' a little. He comes back for five up the middle. Lord goes for one and it's third down. We put the pressure on Lord on third down and are bulldoggin' him, but he throws it outta there and finds a wide open receiver in the endzone. Lord is gettin' popped and it's takin' its toll. It looks like Lord's knee was down and it was, but we didn't get the call. The ‘Cat fans are jawin' with a bunch a folks around us includin' the ‘ol ‘Sker duffer next to me. I tell ‘em loud enough for everybody to hear around me, "That's the breaks…it's football and we gotta play through that…keep pluggin' and quit worryin' about it…..we're gonna get ours somewhere along the line."

So we're startin' from our 20 and I figger we're getting' things figgered out. Sproles goes for 4 and then Wilson for 10. We're gougin' ‘em with the fullback and it's a great thing. Roberson hits Dennis for a sweet 9 yard out and then Sproles goes for 4 and the first down. Ell gets strung out on a option and loses one. He comes back to Polite for ten and then sneaks it for three and the first down. We're moving and the Corn faithful are gettin' a little restless. Ell goes up the middle for three and then finds Casey again. He's got Ruud burnt and Ruud knows it. Casey catches the ball despite the interference and we're knockin' on the door. Sproles goes for one and then Ell throws and incompletion that shoulda been picked and throws the last one away and here comes Rheem. He pushes it to the right and they still have life.

Lord gets loose on first down for 18 and then Ross for two and now they go to the passin' game. They get a little bit workin'. Lord hits Pilkington for nine and then incomplete. Lord hits Pilkington again for eleven and then incomplete and then finds Herian for 10. But, we're bringin' the pressure and Lord's feelin' it. Now they come back to the rush. Lord for nine, Lord for five, Ross for one and Lord for three and it's third and six from the twelve. They try a pass to the end zone, but Lord throws it away. Well, folks that Lynch Mob stepped up right here. They decided there wadn't gonna be anymore scorin'. Thomas Houchin came in a blocked the Dyches FG attempt and we had it and runnin'. Nebraska stops our guy, but we've still got time to move north and get the lead. We move it to the 42 and then get intercepted to end the half.

It's seven to seven and the better half and I are talkin'. Ya know we've played terrible and we're in this thing. We're minus two in turnovers and it's tied. She says if we can just get even we're gonna get ‘em. The ‘ol ‘Sker duffer is sittin' there grousin' about somethin'. He finally says, "Ya know, we haven't given up any points in the third quarter this year." I said, "that oughta make for a good second half then because it usually takes awhile for these boys to wake up…and I figger they're woke up." He grumps a little more.

We get the ball first and are headin' north. Ell goes for three off tackle and then is incomplete to Terry. Nebraska is playin' that soft zone and Polite finds a soft spot underneath on an out pattern for 14 and the first down. Sproles goes for 3 on first down and then loses one. Polite finds the same soft spot on an out, but can't tightrope the sideline. He's outta bounds just short and we punt. Brite hits another beauty and we down it at their thirteen.

Here comes the Mob. Ross goes for eleven on first down. Lord is incomplete and then Lord runs for three and it's third and seven. We must figger we got ‘em in a passin' situation….and we do. We line ‘em up and after Lord looks it over we shift our backers from over the tackle to outside their left end….and when that happens I yell, "HERE COMES THE BLITZ!!!!" Hickman times the snap perfectly and he hits Lord just as he's settin' his back foot to throw. The ball pops straight up in the air and Shull is there to pick it off at their 19. That's a big turnover and the better half says, "we're only down one now." I'm thinkin' to myself that might just be a backbreaker for them.

We come out with a heapin' helpin' of Roberson right here. He goes for 4 up the middle and then five on an option keeper. It's third and short and he bulls his way for three down to the eleven…..man is that line movin' ‘em in short situations…..We option right on first down and it doesn't look like there's much room there. But, Ell Roberson's got some moves of his own. He swivels his hips a couple of times and ya can still hear some of those Blackskirt ankles breakin'. He runs through and arm tackle at the four and he's in the endzone. You could tell he wadn't gonna be denied. It's 14-7 and the strains of Wildcat Victory can be heard.

I don't know about y'all but I was in a frenzy right here. I was shakin' cause it was a critical time in the ballgame, but that Mob was fired up. So their O comes out and Frank and Barney both know they better not pass because we're bringin' the heat and Lord's not holdin' up real well. They rush three times and that's all they get. I'm pattin' the better half on the butt and tellin' her, "That's a good sign if they're tryin' to shorten it here…they're scared a little." Larson hits a boomer outta the endzone.

Here we come. Sproles for five and Roberson to Terry on a quick hitch for seven and the first. We come back to Polite for 19 on the same soft spot in their zone…this time he stays inbounds. We're movin' it at will. Now Moreira dances for 5 and heres where we get our break. A fumble ain't a fumble it it ain't called a fumble. All the ‘Sker fans were bellyachin' about the missed fumble call and I yelled as loud as I could, "That's the breaks…it's football and we gotta play through that…keep pluggin' and quit worryin' about it…..we're gonna get ours somewhere along the line." That shut most of ‘em up…'cause they remembered they were lucky to have seven at that point. Sproles goes for 8 and the first down, then Sproles for 5 and Sproles for one. Roberson hits Polite for four and the first down and ya can see we've got their D figgered out. Roberson is comfortable and he can see it all playin' out in front of him. Now Roberson goes for two and then incomplete. He hits Dennis for 8 and the first down at the 14. Roberson goes option left for one and then Sproles goes over right tackle for three. I tell the better half, "We just ran that play to get us set up in the middle for a field goal. We're gonna pass here and if it's not wide open he'll throw it away." That's just what happened and this time Rheem sneaks it inside the left upright and it's 17-7 and the chants are getting louder. It's startin' to reverberate through ‘ol Memorial and an uneasiness is settin' in.

Rheem hits a sweet kick down to the one and Davis picks it up and can only get 14. He's met by a purple wall and he's down there. So it's all goin' our way right now. But, Lord can still run the ball and he gets loose on first down for 28 yards. He goes incomplete to Pilkington and then that ballhawkin' Lynch Mob swarmed him for a loss of five on second down and that ran out the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth he's incomplete to Herian and they're puntin' again.

Larson gets a boomer outta there, and they're swarmin' to Darren Sproles. Folks from the endzone I can't believe my eyes, we'd set up a reverse return that was a thing of beauty. A whole bunch of red had swarmed to Sproles on the right sideline and there was only two guys wearin' white over there…Darren Sproles and Joe Lawson. Well, Lawson was runnin' the other way and Sproles flipped it to him and there was a white wall. The first three guys wearin' red got blind-sided and one of ‘em was the punter. Pippens got Lawson's shoelace at the 37 or he woulda taken it to the house. Ya know when Bill Snyder sees ya hangin' your head it's time to deliver a knock out punch. On the first play after that return he swung from his heels. Terry ran an out and up, Roberson did a sweet ball fake and the only thing I said was, "Catch it." He was so open that there wasn't gonna be any red in the picture frame on his sprint to the endzone. "NOW THAT'S WHAT YA CALL FOOTBALL……..WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!" The ‘ol ‘Sker duffer was really grumpy now. Count ‘em out 24 pushups and K-S-U WILDCATS! K-S-U WILDCATS! KKK-SSS-UUU WILDCATS!!! is echoing through ‘ol Memorial….the red band can't even drown it out.

Now that Mob is back out and the better half is sayin' let's get even. I think that's a heckuva idea. We got the pressure on and on third down we get Lord outta the pocket. He heaves it deep and McGill is playin' centerfield. He picks it off and puts us in business.

Now comes the O and they're steppin' on the gas, tryin' to put the distance on this one. Ell goes for eleven and then three. Sproles goes for 13 down to the NU 29. Sproles goes for one and then five and then we get a chop-block penalty so it's third and long from the 37. That doesn't matter to Roberson and Terry cause they're just out there playin' pitch and catch. Roberson hits him for the 37 yard TD. And folks here's somethin' I've never seen in Memorial. Keep in mind, I've been goin' there since 1987 and I even saw the game they lost to Colorado in 1990. I've never seen the heart of that program, the Cornhusker fans, leave Memorial early. But, at the 9:55 mark of this game they were streamin' for the exits. It was a woodshed beatdown and they were headin' for home. Those K-S-U WILDCATS! echoes just got louder and louder.

So they come back with 4 plays for 11 yards and out, we get 6 plays for 10 yards and out, they go 4 plays and Ced Williams gets and INT on 4th down and the better half says, "WE'RE EVEN." And we go 4 plays and take the safety. It's durin' this time I try and make a little talk with ‘ol Grumpy ‘Sker duffer. I said, "Ya, know this defense has only given up one TD in the last 16 quarters…so it's nothin' really to get down about." Well folks I know one thing folks don't understand what it's like to be a K-State fan and K-State fans probably don't understand what it's like to be a fan from their program. That wadn't the right thing to say to him. Cornhusker fans haven't ever seen anything like this….they don't know how to react to butt-whippins'. This ‘ol duffer got into a whole bunch of stuff about schedule and championships and typical BS that don't mean nothin' when it comes to winnin' football games. When he got done with his tirade I just told him, "Well, none of that helped ya at all this afternoon did it." But I gotta give it to a bunch of those other folks they were cordial on the way out.

So after the free kick, Houchin sacks Lord on first down then he goes complete to Fluellen. On third down the Mob brings it and pops Lord, there's a fumble and Buhl gets on it at the K-State 49 and "WE'RE PLUS ONE."

Ya know in all those years of getting' beat, Nebraska usually got loose late to widen the gap. It was after a tough came where we hung around and their superior depth and talent got ‘em loose on a big run. Well, right here K-State's superior depth and talent busted Darren Sproles loose. He's runnin' north right at me and finally gets shoved out at the six. We bring in the beef and Ayo Saba, our third string fullback, crashes it in from there for the six and I yell, "NOW THAT'S PLAYIN' SOME FOOTBALL!!!" ‘Course there weren't many ‘Sker fans around to hear that at this point.

The Mob mopped it up by sackin' Dailey and stoppin' Davis and it was all over but the party. Those boys in the white came on down for a big ‘ol celebration. They danced and wabashed and slapped five. I can tell y'all nobody wanted it to end. It was a beautiful day and the only heart left pumpin' on this day was coursin' purple blood right there in the southwest corner of ‘ol Memorial.

So folks last week I talked about the legacy of this football team bein' written in Lincoln. They did that and will hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Wildcats fans everywhere. They have another step to take that can bolster that legacy and we get to see it on a Saturday night in Manhattan. I can't think of a place I'd rather be. Let's get that heart pumpin' and come ready next week to send those boys back to KC.

Until next time,

Wildcat Victory is more than a song!

Wildcat Jack

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