Robert Rose took a handoff up the middle, then cut back to his left before going untouched for a 26-yard touchdown against Massachusetts Saturday night.
Though big at the time, it’s probably not a moment that will find its way onto a highlight reel of the greatest plays in Kansas State history.
But to Rose — the diminutive senior who had just 13 carries in first three years at K-State — the touchdown held plenty of personal significance.
“That being my first one, I was kind of jittery, kind of shaking on the sidelines,” Rose said. “The guys were kind of making fun of me. I was trying so hard not to cry, man. It’s been a long time coming for me being a senior. It was just a great feeling.”
Rose’s emotion was evident both during and after the play as he got a big downfield block from tight end Andre McDonald, before high-stepping across the goal line and bursting into an emphatic celebration with a chorus of Wildcat teammates.
“Because of (McDonald) I didn’t even get touched on the play,” Rose said. “But, the touchdown itself, it was like a natural high, man — addictive. You want to hear the roar of the crowd. It’s a great feeling.”
Rose would go on to finish the night with a career-high 39 yards on five carries, serving as John Hubert’s primary backup through the first two games this season.
It was also a night of firsts for freshman fullback Glenn Gronkowski and cornerback Kip Daily.
Gronkowski scored the first touchdown of his career when he hauled in a wide-open pass from Jake Waters over the middle for a 43-yard reception in the third quarter.
Daily, who was named the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, picked up a pair of interceptions in the victory, returning one 38 yards for a touchdown.
The first-time starter became the second Wildcat to snag a pick-six in as many weeks following safety Ty Zimmerman’s 32-yard interception return for a touchdown against Louisiana.
Daily’s interception return gave the Wildcats their only points in the first quarter Saturday. He picked up his second interception in the second half.
“It’s just a boost, you know,” said Daily, who had only one tackle in six games last season. “The crowd gets into it. We get confidence in what we’re doing and we feel like we’re doing something right.”
Hubert finds his stride
Running back John Hubert led a dominant rushing attack by K-State Saturday night — carrying the ball 18 times for a season-high 118 yards.
That’s significant for the senior, who struggled to get much of anything going in the first two games this season. Now, Hubert should go into the game at Texas on Saturday with a little more confidence.
“I think there were some times where John just put his pads down and ran,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “There comes a time when you have to do that because you can’t make everybody miss. You just have to get your pads down and get all you can. I thought he did a little bit more of that this evening
As a team, the Wildcats racked up season highs in rushing yards (329), carries (46) and yards per carry (7.2).
It was the most yards the Wildcats gained on the ground since the 346 yards they put on Kansas last season. Nearly everyone got into the act too. Five different Wildcats carried the ball, including quarterbacks Daniel Sams, and perhaps of more significance Jake Waters, who finished with 77 and 74 yards rushing, respectively.
If there was ever a time to get the ground attack rolling, it was last week, as the Wildcats (2-1) prepare for the struggling Longhorns (1-2) this weekend. Through the first three games, Texas is allowing an alarming 308 yards per game, including a whopping 550 yards on the ground in a loss to BYU.