Players of the Game: K-State vs KU

Emily DeShazer | Collegian K-State sophomore defensive back Dante Barnett caught two of the four interceptions the Wildcats had against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Wildcats won the Sunflower Showdown for the fifth straight time after a 31-10 win.Photo credit: Emily DeShazer.

Offensive Player of the Game: Running back John Hubert

Hubert walked off in dramatic fashion in his final game in the state of Kansas today at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. The senior running back notched a career-high 220 yards in his last regular-season game for K-State, averaging 7.3 yards per carry with one touchdown on the afternoon.

“Hubert was awesome,” junior center B.J. Finney said after the game. “He was hitting the holes, he was running hard. Even when we didn’t have holes he was trying to get what we could, and that’s what we need.”

Hubert is now at 968 yards on the season, well within striking distance of 1,000 on the year with a good performance in K-State’s bowl game.

The Wildcat running game began and ended with Hubert, as he ripped off multiple long runs, including a long of 41.

“I just got through talking to John, I told him how proud I was of him,” said head coach Bill Snyder after the game. “He ran extremely hard and that’s what has been important for him.”

He was especially effective on K-State’s second scoring drive. Up 7-0 with 2:18 left in the first quarter, Hubert ripped off runs of 11, 24, and 21 yards, his last one for a touchdown.

“John was John,” senior wide receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “He’s a beast. He’s a good back. He had 220 yards and it just shows what he can do and could’ve done the whole year. He did a great job today.”

The Wildcat rushing attack has been successful this season coming from many different players, with sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams and junior quarterback Jake Waters key complements to Hubert. However, Saturday was all about Hubert as Sams carried the ball just twice for a loss of seven, and Waters was ineffective outside of his 15 yard touchdown run.

“He reads holes pretty well, so sometimes he gets caught dancing a bit, but today he didn’t,” Snyder said on how Hubert found success. “He got his pads down and made people miss him, he spun off of blocks, he ran hard, I was really proud of his effort.”

Defensive Player of the Game: Safety Dante Barnett

On a day where the K-State defense forced six Kansas turnovers, there were plenty of stars. Kansas’ two quarterbacks, Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart, combined to throw four interceptions to three different Wildcats. Junior safety Dylan Shellenberg and senior cornerback Dorrian Roberts each had one pick, but sophomore safety Dante Barnett stood out, with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

The ball seemed to find Barnett all game, and he certainly felt good about continuously taking the ball out of the Jayhawks hands and delivering it back to Hubert and the offense.

“It’s one of the best feelings in the world, when you can go out there and get a good turnover and have your offense on the the field and you can go on the sidelines and sit down,” he said about his three takeaways.

The Oklahoma native’s first pick came in the third quarter, grabbing a ball thrown by Heaps at the Wildcats’ 46, returning it 16 yards to set up a K-State touchdown.

Barnett’s second interception came as the Jayhawks were knocking on the door to the end zone: Barnett picked off Heaps again, this time on the goal line, returning it 31 yards to get the Wildcats out of a jam and put the offense back on the field.

“I had coverage going with the corner, and the receiver released the same way so I just looked for backside help,” said Barnett about the play. “I saw the quarterback staring down the receiver and I went in and tried to make a play.”

Barnett’s day was huge for the Wildcats. Although K-State won by 21 points, the win was not necessarily a pretty one and the six turnovers by the Jayhawks ensured that K-State stayed on top.

“KU kept fighting hard,” said Barnett. “No matter how many turnovers we had, I was looking up at the scoreboard and it was only a couple of touchdowns away. We never got complacent in this game.”

Barnett had a big game on a big stage, taking down the Wildcats’ bitter in-state rival in the Sunflower Showdown. Both teams have a plethora of players from the state, and a win means a lot not just to Kansas natives but to veterans of both programs as well.

“It’s a big rivalry, a lot of Kansas kids on our team,” said the sophomore. “Since we went out and got the victory for them, it means everything.”