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October 13, 2008

Wildcats to use road victory as 'fuel'

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- What exactly does 74 combined points and 993 yards equate to? Kansas State believed it meant reason to celebrate after a 44-30 win against Texas A&M on Saturday. And that's more than almost all of the announced crowd of 78,699 could say as they left Kyle Field. The Wildcats sucked the life out of the stadium and now enter the week carrying a little bit of momentum as they prepare to visit Colorado this weekend.

"Celebrate at be happy," defensive tackle Gabe Crews said. "It really lifted our spirits and morale. I think it'll just continue to build momentum and (we'll) keep winning."

For the fifth-straight game, there were plenty of fireworks. The average combined point total has been a staggering 77.6 points during the stretch while the overall offensive production by the Wildcats and their opponents might be best measured in miles.

But alas, K-State, 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12, finds itself tied with Missouri for second-place in the Big 12 North after the No. 3-ranked Tigers saw their nine-game home winning streak snapped in a 28-23 loss to No. 17 Oklahoma State. Nebraska, Iowa State and Colorado remain winless after two Big 12 games and the Buffaloes, 3-3 and 0-2, have dropped three straight games.

Call it luck. Call it karma. Josh Freeman calls it momentum. And the Wildcats seem to have some on their side after picking up their first road win in more than year and the third in three seasons under Ron Prince. Freeman believes it's a necessary ingredient as K-State, which snapped a five-game skid in the series against the Aggies, shifts gears and prepares to face struggling Colorado at Boulder.

"A win is definitely something we can use for fuel," Freeman said. "Momentum can play a big part, whether it's in a game or throughout a season. We're definitely going to do our best to build off of this game and try to get after it next week."

He added, "Today, we're not worried about Colorado. Today, we're worried about celebrating and enjoying our win."

Prince had various reasons to celebrate. After Reggie Walker blocked a punt early in the second quarter, focus immediately shifted to the K-State sideline to see if it would garner a Prince stomp celebration dance. It did. The Wildcats rushed or a season-high 215 yards and their scoring drives featured jaunts of 81, 93 and a season-high 98 yards. When Joshua Moore stopped Jorvorskie Lane on third and fourth down, Prince greeted Moore about 10 yards onto the field with a mid-air chest bump. There was reason for excitement.

But that the Wildcats gave up more than 500 total yards for the four straight game -- Texas A&M had 544 -- wasn't one of them.

"We'll go back and keep working on it," Prince said. "I don't want to throw any rain on the kids."

Not after a win. And especially not after a game that at least a couple players earlier in the week believed could already decide the fate of the season.

"It was a must-win in most of our eyes," senior defensive end Ian Campbell said.

Freeman believed the previous week, which ended with a 58-28 loss to seventh-ranked Texas Tech for the worst home loss in 12 years, made the Wildcats better.

"The guys came out and responded extremely well from all the negativity last week," Freeman said. "We just locked ourselves up in the complex and drew closer as a unit, coaches and players alike. We knew the common goal was we needed to win and we came out and got it done."

And now?

"We'll start hitting Colorado hard on Monday night," he said. "We know they're a team that's definitely capable of beating anyone. They're going to be hungry for a win."

Momentum on their side, the Wildcats will seek to do something they haven't done since their 2003 Big 12 Championship season: Win back-to-back games on the road.

Now that would be something to celebrate.

CREWS GLAD TO BE BACK

During the first five games of the season, it proved difficult to locate defensive tackle Gabe Crews. In some games, the sophomore in the No. 93 jersey was on the sideline. In others, he didn't even make it to the sideline. But it was easy to spot the 6-foot-1, 310-pounder on the Wildcats' first defensive possession on Saturday: He was wrapped around Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson.

Crews didn't start, but in his first action of 2008, he combined with defensive end Eric Childs for a seven-yard sack on Johnson at the K-State 35-yard line.

"It's been so long but it felt pretty good," Crews said. "It felt good helping out my team in a big game this season. I was just glad to be out there and I hope to be out there some more."

Obvious question: Where have you been?

"I just had a couple of personal issues, things I had to look inside myself and come to terms with," he said. "I finally did that. When I did that, I came to Coach Prince and let him know that I wanted to help my team and I wanted to contribute. He gave me my chance and I'm glad I've got it. I'm ready to help my team for the rest of the season."

Crews finished with three tackles and was credited with a half-sack. That was more than enough to get his juices going, though.

"I was outside the guard and I bull rushed the guard and came off and made the sack," he said. "It was pretty exciting, the first sack of my college career. I'm pretty excited about that."

PRINCE GETS THE CALL
It's rare when a college coach gets a call from the president. So figure Prince's excitement prior to kickoff when he got called over by one. Seems former president George Bush, a regular at Kyle Field, wanted to shake hands with the K-State head coach.

"I had a great moment," Prince said, unprompted, wearing a grin. "I had a chance to meet President Bush, the first, before the game. That was an outstanding treat for me. He called me over. I was surprised he would know who I am, so that was pretty neat."


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