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KANSAS STATE BREAKS FREE OF NEBRASKA : KANSAS STATE 40, NEBRASKA 30.

Byline: Kent Pulliam Kansas City Star

Nebraska's 29-year stranglehold on Kansas State officially ended Saturday.

Linebacker Jeff Kelly put the finishing touches on K-State's 40-30 victory with a 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown with three seconds left, touching off a premature celebration by K-State fans who emptied onto the field twice before time expired.

But it was such a sweet moment, who could blame the fans as they enjoyed the Wildcats' 10-year climb from the dregs of college football to a spot near the summit? The victory and Missouri's loss earlier in the afternoon put the Wildcats into the Big 12 championship game.

K-State quarterback Michael Bishop lost three fumbles and threw an interception but might have cemented his credentials as college football's best playmaker with 140 rushing yards and a 19-for-33 passing performance good for 306 yards. He tossed two touchdown passes and rushed for two more as the Wildcats defeated Nebraska for the first time since 1968.

``I can't think of (a game) that was bigger,'' said K-State coach Bill Snyder, the architect of this 10-year football revival. ``I'm happy. I can assure you of that. I feel very good about this win - I am humbled by it.''

At times, though, it seemed as if the whole state of Kansas was about to be humbled. The Cornhuskers jumped to a 7-0 lead on the first possession and extended it to 17-7 early in the second quarter.

But Kansas State rallied. A touchdown just before halftime trimmed the lead to three points. In the third quarter, Kansas State went ahead - but fell behind again in the fourth as Nebraska turned what might have been a rout into a nail-biter for a Kansas State team that has not trailed in any other game this season.

After the Wildcats built a 24-17 lead and seemed able to put the game away, Kansas State's Frank Murphy fumbled at the Nebraska 26. Huskers cornerback Ralph Brown picked the ball up and took it 74 yards for a touchdown.

The Wildcats responded with a 21-yard field goal, which was answered by another Nebraska touchdown pass. The Cornhuskers threw three touchdown passes.

K-State's winning touchdown came on a broken play. Bishop was flushed from the pocket and rolled to his right. As Nebraska defenders chased the play to that side of the field to cut off his scrambling, Darnell McDonald slipped behind them going in the opposite direction. McDonald found an open spot, hunkered down and waited for the ball.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO Kansas State QB Michael Bishop, legs in the air, is tackled by Nebraska linebackers in K-State's 40-30 victory. College football's best playmaker had 140 rushing yards and passed for 306 yards.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 15, 1998
Words:455
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