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November 30, 2013

Hubert powers Cats past Kansas

LAWRENCE -- For at least half of Saturday's edition of the Sunflower Showdown, Kansas State and Kansas appeared equally matched. When it mattered, though, the Wildcats showed their strength. Led by a career-high 220 rushing yards by John Hubert, K-State knocked off in-state rival Kansas, 31-10.

"I'm pleased for our players and our fans and it means a lot to each of them, but I'm disappointed in how we played," K-State coach Bill Snyder said.

Early in the contest, it appeared K-State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) was well on its way to a fourth straight blowout victory over the Jayhawks. Everything went the Wildcats' way in the opening quarter as K-State jumped to a 21-0 lead.

Jake Waters connected with Zach Trujillo and Glenn Gronkowski on touchdown passes sandwiched around a 21-yard scoring run by Hubert.

"(The touchdown passes) were run-pass options that their defense bit on," Waters said. "That's exactly how we drew it up. All I had to do was make the play."

After K-State took its big lead, though, the Wildcats appeared to enter cruise control. The Jayhawks refused to back down and narrowed the deficit to 21-10 by halftime.

"We made a lot of mistakes and we didn't get ourselves into the best plays," Snyder said. "We had assignment errors. We really just weren't very good."

Tramaine Thompson said K-State was too satisfied with its early lead.

"We got a little complacent," Thompson said. "We had a couple of good drives, put the ball in the end zone, and then we didn't have the same intensity that we started with."

Despite Hubert's best performance of the season, K-State's offense stalled for a large part of the contest, scoring just 10 points after the first play of the second quarter. Hubert finished the afternoon with 30 carries as K-State struggled in the passing game.

"Coming into this game, we knew we didn't rush the ball last week as well as we should have," Hubert said. "We wanted to come out and prove that we're still a hard-nosed football team."

Hubert had 108 rushing yards in the first half and 112 more in the second. Snyder said he was proud of the way Hubert provided some balance to the offense.

"I told him how proud I was of him," Snyder said. "He ran extremely hard and that's what has been important for him."

Waters, who finished the game 10-of-21 passing for 160 yards, said he was disappointed with his performance.

"I made a bunch of mistakes," he said. "I didn't play very well at all. But we got out of here with a win."

The KU offense turned to Jake Heaps at quarterback in the first quarter after freshman Montell Cozart struggled early. Heaps finished 14-of-29 passing for 128 yards, but was intercepted three times in KU territory.

K-State managed to make Heaps pay on the second of those mistakes, as Jake Waters scored on a 15-yard run with 3:10 left in the third quarter to give the Wildcats a 28-10 lead and essentially put the game away.

K-State's defense forced six turnovers, its highest output of the season. Linebacker Blake Slaughter led the Wildcats with 15 tackles while Ryan Mueller added a sack and forced fumble.

Mueller's 11.5 sacks this season ties a school record.

"KU had a good game plan for me," Mueller said. "I don't believe in tying. It's like kissing your sister."

Kansas finished the season 3-9 and 1-8 in Big 12 play. K-State will await word on a bowl game.

In the meantime, the Wildcats know there is improvement to be made.

"It's a big win to finish the season off, but we can play a lot better," Waters said. "We're going to go home and think about how we can fix some things."

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