Sunday, November 12, 2006

Snowy K-State Win Perhaps My Best Day Ever

Kansas State's Dyshod Carter celebrates the game sealing defensive play. Photograph by the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Emily and I had been standing in the 33 degree drizzle for more than three hours. We were a wet, frozen mess.

Nebraska's Dan Alexander had just scored on a 45-yard run, which put the Huskers up 28-23.

It looked as if Kansas State would choke away arguably the biggest win in school history.

Then Wildcat quarterback Jonathan Beasley took over. The temperature dipped south of 32 degrees. The drizzle became a light snow.

K-State was driving.

The Wildcats moved down the field, eating up the clock.

Finally Beasley found Quincy Morgan across the middle for a 12-yard touchdown pass that put the Cats up 29-28 with 2:52 remaining.

Just as Beasley cocked his arm to deliver that pass, it seems, the snow started falling with a fury.

You've probably never been to a K-State football game, so this next bit is hard to describe. After every K-State score, the mascot, Wildcat Willie, stands in front of the student section and twists his body into a "K," and "S," and a "U," followed by two fist pumps. The crowd chants along. The ritual is repeated three times.

Just after Morgan crossed the goal line, I heard the familiar "kaaaaaaaaaaaaaay," "esssssssssssss ..." But where was Willie?

Emily and I looked, and there was Willie across the field on top of the press box. The lights of Wagner Field illuminated Willie and the now heavy snow fall. I still get chills thinking about it.

Nebraska still ran the vaunted option in those days, and the snow was the best home field advantage imaginable. The mighty Huskers could do nothing on the slick turf.

Time expired.

For the first and only time in my life, I rushed the field. There Emily and I stood. Drenched. Frozen. And in the midst of chaos. There are few times in an entire lifetime when that much adrenaline runs through your veins.

It was awesome.

We took in the glory of the field and then got out of the way of the fools toppling the goalposts.

Emily and I walked all the way home. Across the entire K-State campus. Through a now rocking Aggieville. Down Moro Street to our house.

We tried to call people on the cell phone. To no avail. The circuits were overloaded with a record crowd of 53,811 trying to do the same.

It may have been the most exciting day of my life.

To be sure, my real best days were my wedding and the births of my children. But those are different kinds of emotional highs. They are poignant. You really would be a fool if after hearing, "it's a girl," you pumped your fists, ran around like a maniac, and tore down a big yellow pole.

Sports fans reading this know why I am writing this today. Last night, K-State took down No. 4 Texas, 45-42. Exactly six years to the day after Emily and I rushed the field.

Last night was magical. I never tire of watching Texas lose. The win might even be bigger than our defeat of the Huskers, as K-State tries to climb back to national importance. But it will never replace that snowy evening in 2000.

Nice win, Ron Prince. Welcome to Manhattan. I look forward to seeing you in a bowl game this year and in the AP poll next season.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A truly unforgettable experience. It touched me.z

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt that same crazy feeling the day OSU beat Michigan in 2002 to remain unbeaten and earn a spot in the national championship game.

My friends and I ran all the way down from C-Deck in the 'Shoe and jumped onto the field. I still have dirt in a bag that I took home that day.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Add some more dirt to your collection next week!

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the great memories. My almost 6 year old son and I rushed the field for the first and only time at the Texas/KSU game and felt the same joy. I was great reading your story.

10:17 AM  

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