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As we all gather for the last time this season in Fort Snyder on senior day, I always like to look back on the careers of the departing players. I think Mike summed that up really well with his senior day guides this week. I also heard that this senior class is the first class since the 2003 seniors to go to a bowl game in each of their four years at Kansas State.

That got me thinking about the 10th anniversary of a very special day. A day that will always live vividly in my mind. Saturday couldn’t be more fitting the way the schedule lined up. Senior day, last home game, the 2003 team in attendance for their 10-year reunion and you get to enjoy your first Big 12 Championship highlights with Oklahoma and Bob Stoops in the building.

I was lucky enough to be in attendance that day, December 6, 2003. I remember the trip from Council Grove to Kansas City. So many OU cars heading north on I-35. All of them full of cockiness and kids flipping our Powercat decorated car the bird. They sure do raise them right down there. It didn’t matter if you were filling up with fuel or checking into the hotel or trying to enjoy breakfast, they were there and they were telling us how we didn’t have a prayer against the best team of all time.

Then we arrived at a very frigid Arrowhead, similar to what these two teams will face tomorrow. Walking thru the tailgates was a treat. Still fielding obscenities and hatred from some of the classiest fans in America. We made it to our seats, which was a task because my brother-in-law had just had surgery to repair his knee and he was on crutches.

Going into the game I was skeptical. I don’t even know if skeptical is pessimistic enough. Oklahoma came out and received the opening kick-off and it didn’t take long for them to score on a 42-yard run. I thought to myself that the game was going about as well as I had expected. One possession, one quick score and tons of “Boomer Sooner.”BoomerSooner

Then things became different. The defense started to slow down the OU attack. Kansas State didn’t score in the first quarter, but we really held our own against the number one team in the country. Then in the second quarter, Ell Roberson found Brian Casey for the touchdown. Fans in our section were going nuts and surprisingly, no “Boomer Sooner.”

Less than two minutes later, BANG, another Kansas State touchdown. This time Ell threaded the needle and found James Terry who gets the ball after an OU defender miss-times his jump and then avoids another defender right in front of us. We were right there in the lower level about 7 rows up. It was the first of many legendary plays that would happen that night.

sprolesSpeaking of legendary plays, maybe the most legendary player of all-time had a nifty little screen pass that went for 60 yards and a score. I don’t know if you guys will remember it. Maybe you had to be there like I was. Or maybe you have Wyatt’s call memorized like I do.

By then, the crowd was starting to sense something special in the air. The OU fans were quiet. It’s 21-7 Kansas State and the OU band isn’t pounding on the metal awning separating their band and our student section anymore. They got to pounding on that thing after their first and only touchdown and it was loud and annoying. Then the Kansas State students repeated the act after their touchdowns, much to the chagrin of the OU band.

Halftime was probably the most excruciating 20 minutes I can remember a halftime being just tons of nervousness trying to settle down while telling yourself the game isn’t over. You still have to keep it going. This OU team is a great team and it’s going to be tough to keep them out of the end zone.

With the late third quarter touchdown pass to Antoine Polite, the crowd realized that it really could happen, but I could still sense some doubt. The infamous Big 12 championship game of 1998 was just five years ago and every fan remembered how that game left them feeling. They weren’t quite ready to pop the champagne yet.

simsThen Ted Sims picked off Jason White and took it to the house. That was the moment we knew we had it. They weren’t going to score four touchdowns to catch up. In the middle of high fives and cheers we look back to realize that a drunk fan behind us was trying to throw my brother-in-laws crutches onto the field in celebration. “Boomer Sooner” was silent and the students were pounding the metal cover at a fever pitch. This time I didn’t mind.

The clock hit zeros and we made our way down to the front row and the players made lap of the stadium giving everyone high fives. I remember turning around to see a tear running down my father-in-laws face. A season ticket holder since the late 70s finally got what he deserved and he was drinking it all in.

One thing I remember from the trip back home was how many Oklahoma fans vanished. Maybe they were embarrassed and ashamed that they lost to a three-loss Kansas State team. Maybe it was because they only had one Oklahoma shirt and they wore it Saturday night, but on Sunday morning they were nowhere to be found.

I never really looked back on the game in this depth before. I am surprised I remember as much of it as I do. I have probably watched that highlight synced with the famous Right Said Fred song a thousand times. Those images are burned into memory and I figured I would have lost my unique view of the game. I only saw that game from my seat in Arrowhead once, but you never forget your first time.

About The Author

Ryan was born and raised around the “Little Apple”, and is a life-long Kansas State fan and 2007 graduate. He is also a lover of all things Tallgrass Brewing. Was once quoted on November 11, 2006 as saying, "If we beat Texas, I will get a Powercat tattooed on my ass!"

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