Kansas State University

How K-State turned embarrassment against a true freshman quarterback into heroics

K-State’s Wyatt Hubert was alone.

Max Duggan, TCU’s true freshman quarterback, put the ball in the running back’s stomach. Hubert jab stepped to the inside; he said he didn’t expect the zone read at all. When he did, Duggan pulled it.

Hubert was caught out, the first casualty in what would go down as one of the best runs of the 2019 college football season. He reached for Duggan, but it was too late as Duggan ran by and Hubert rolled onto the turf.

Duggan broke five tackles on the 46-yard touchdown and dove for the pylon to tie the score at 17-17 with 8:42 left in the third quarter. It wasn’t Hubert’s crowning moment, but it was coming.

“We were pretty fired up on the sideline because we weren’t tackling,” K-State senior defensive tackle Jordan Mittie said. “I think that was a turning point in the game defensively. We really got on it from that point on.”

Those were the final points TCU scored Saturday as K-State drove 95 yards for quarterback Skylar Thompson’s game-winning touchdown. K-State won 24-17 to end a two-game losing streak, stretched out over the past month.

That’s not to say TCU didn’t have its chances, and when it did, Hubert was the biggest hero.

On the Horned Frogs’ final drive, they started at their own 25 yard-line. They drove 39 yards on three completions to receiver Jalen Reagor. But on first-and-10 from the K-State 36, Hubert ripped around the corner.

Hubert did not miss Duggan this time. He grabbed Duggan and took him down for a 9-yard loss. Two plays later on fourth-and-11, Hubert crushed Duggan again.

Duggan got rid of the ball, but the impact made the ball flutter incomplete.

“The motto we had this week was, ‘Good play, bad play, next play,’ ” Hubert said. “No matter where you’re at on the field, no matter what the down and distance was, that was the most important play.”

The Wildcats said Duggan’s running ability was expected but not to the degree he showed Saturday. The freshman quarterback finished with a game-high 115 rushing yards on 13 carries. He also added 132 yards through the air.

Hubert finished with three tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry, but he made the two biggest defensive plays of the game.

Just a redshirt sophomore, Hubert is already a captain at K-State along with senior safety Denzel Goolsby. On Hubert’s big plays, Goolsby had his eyes in the backfield, and once Duggan started through his progression, Goolsby reacted and closed on the receivers.

He said when he heard the crowd go wild, he knew good news was on the way. When he saw it was Hubert, he said he wasn’t surprised. Goolsby said Hubert is naturally curious, and that’s what makes him an animal on Saturdays.

“He’ll always surround himself with some of the older guys on the team,” Goolsby said. “His maturity level as a player and a person is because he wants to be in that type of senior mindset already.”

K-State coach Chris Klieman said Hubert is never satisfied. That’s what makes him so great.

“I think Wyatt would tell you he’s barely scratching the surface on what he can be as a football player,” Klieman said. “I love Wyatt because of his motor and his competitiveness, but I think he can give more.

“The guys look up to him. He’s a freak of nature. He’s a great player and an even better person.”

After Duggan’s 46-yard toucdown run, Hubert was on the sideline rallying the defense, typically a job reserved for a senior, Goolsby said.

Hubert said he flushed that play away. That’s what allowed for the two big plays.

Klieman said Hubert’s progress has been outstanding for a redshirt sophomore. Hubert said he just wanted four or five more tackles.

“I made plays and I had a few pressures, but I’m not satisfied with that at all,” Hubert said.

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.