Kansas State defensive back Jahron McPherson wasn’t even able to finish the first quarter of his final game Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium — because of a turn of events that left those around him scratching their heads.
With 5:40 remaining in the opening period, McPherson locked up with Baylor left guard Xavier Newman-Johnson on a quarterback keeper from Gerry Bohanon. Newman-Johnson and McPherson both fell out of bounds along the K-State sideline. But McPherson never returned to the field: he tangled with a member of the officiating crew and missed the remainder of the contest.
After the Wildcats’ 20-10 loss, head coach Chris Klieman still was in disbelief.
“I saw him. He looked fine,” Klieman said of McPherson, one of the team’s five sixth-year seniors. “And then he was trying to get off of a pile, and then the official came over and he tripped over the official. Then all of a sudden he’s down. So we’ll have to see it on film and see what really happened. I don’t know, but it was a really odd, strange play for him to get hurt on.”
Klieman had no update on McPherson’s status health immediately after the game.
“We’ll find out here in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
McPherson did not appear to be downcast after the game, though. McPherson was seen chatting and laughing with defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman and fellow defensive back Reggie Stubblefield in the football complex following the 10-point loss.
Stubblefield said he spoke with McPherson at halftime about the bizarre injury.
“It’s kind of weird,” Stubblefield said. “He said he tripped over the ref and he just felt something pop, so we’ll figure it out (Sunday). I think he’s going to get seen. I hope for the best for him.”
With McPherson unavailable for the final 50-plus minutes of the game, redshirt freshman TJ Smith took on a larger role at safety. Smith collected three tackles. And he came up with the Wildcats’ lone turnover, ripping the ball away from Baylor right guard Grant Miller in a pile after defensive end Nate Matlack knocked it out of running back Trestan Ebner’s hands.
“I’m excited for TJ, because we moved some guys around and knocked TJ out of the rotation a little bit,” Klieman said. “When Jahron went down, TJ had an opportunity. I thought TJ played really well. I was happy for him.”
Stubblefield showered Smith with praise as well.
“TJ came in and played phenomenal, man,” Stubblefield said. “We appreciated TJ so much. I gave him a big hug, because for him to step up in that role, what he did today was phenomenal.”
Stubblefield didn’t avoid the injury bug, either. He momentarily departed in the fourth quarter after remaining down on the field for an extended period following a play.
He shrugged it off afterward, though.
“I think I tripped over somebody,” he said. “My ankle, just twisted my ankle. But it was fine. I was ready to go the next play.”