By: D. Scott Fritchen
Kansas State Director of Football Recruiting Taylor Braetarguably the most animated member of the Wildcat staff, stands quietly outside the visitors’ locker room, cradling the Governor’s Cup trophy in his arms like a baby.
Braet, at 18th season at K-State and its 11th in his present position, is a native of Wichita, Kansas, and the son and grandson of Kansas natives, and almost everything he owns is purple.
At the moment, Braet, wearing a purple windbreaker, gray pants and purple Nikes, is not at all animated. He speaks slowly while looking at the trophy.
No. 21 K-State just outlasted No. 25 Kansas, 31-27, in Lawrence to win the Dillons Tournesol Showdown for a record 15.th normal time.
The trophy will return home with Braet and the Wildcats to Manhattan.
Braet is full of gratitude as his eyes become somewhat teary.
“That,” he said, “means the world.”
“We’re a working-class school in a working-class state, and our school is full of blue-collar kids,” Braet continues. “There’s a lot of pride in that. Don’t change the mold, just build on it. At one point I looked out there and we had eight Kansas State players on defense, and that means more for me.probably than the trophy, just knowing that the kids in the state have the ability.
“When you can bring the trophy home to where the most kids in the state play, it means the most.”
There are 50 Kansas State players on K-State’s roster. There are 28 from Sunflower State on Kansas’ roster.
Here are 10 ways the Wildcats won the Tournesol Showdown with Kansas players:
• 22 Kansas natives, including seven starters, participated in the game.
• Ty Bowman (Chanute) recovered a muffed punt that the offense turned into a touchdown on the ensuing possession.
• DJ Giddens (Junction City) had 102 rushing yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 25 yards on the final drive as the Wildcats ran out the final 5 minutes, 33 seconds of the game.
• Desmond Purnell (Topeka) had a team tying five tackles and a forced fumble.
• Austin Moore (Louisburg) had a team-high two tackles for loss.
• Beau Palmer (Overland Park) had a career-high four tackles, his first career sack and pass.
• Jacob Parrish (Olathe) had three tackles.
• Cody Stufflebean (McPherson) had three tackles.
Beebe, one of college football’s most impactful players, is a product of Piper High School in Kansas City, Kansas. A lock for the 2024 NFL Draft, Beebe returned to school for a variety of reasons.
Standing outside the visitors’ locker room after the hard-fought victory, Beebe flashes a Salina-sized smile.
“It means everything,” Beebe says. “Especially being a Kansas kid, this one is special to me. Since it was my last season, I had to come away with a win, for sure.
“It was really different this year. This year we knew they had a really good team, and we had to be on our Ps and Qs and there were no days off, that’s for sure. Put that little extra every day meant a lot, especially being a Kansas guy.”
There are chips on the shoulders of several K-State players, that’s for sure. Giddens, a redshirt freshman running back from Junction City who earlier in the season became the first player in K-State history to rush for 200 yards and four touchdowns in a single game, has 21 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Jayhawks. .
He smiles as he talks about his path.
“It means a lot to be from the state of Kansas,” he says. “K-State was really the only college that kind of recruited me, so it means a lot to come here and show out against Kansas since I didn’t get any looks.”
K-State improves to 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12 Conference while Kansas falls to 7-4 and 4-4 in the power league. The Wildcats finish their regular season against Iowa State at 7 p.m. (FOX) Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
In this moment, captivated by the emotion of the great victory, all emotions turn towards the subject in question: the Tournesol Showdown.
“We talked about it last night at our players meeting, what kind of people are K-State fans and what kind of people went to K-State,” Moore said. “We talked about it being blue collar, working hard, earning everything – nothing is given to you.”
That’s always been K-State’s mantra.
“It’s just about trying to make sure you have the right guys and the right person,” Braet says. “The trophy comes with it. That’s what makes it special and so great and that’s why you have to win the rivalry.
“I mean, it’s a battle for where you come from.”
K-State had won the previous four games in the series by as many as 20 points. The Wildcats won 47-27 last season in Manhattan and 35-10 in Lawrence in 2021.
This one has been close from the start. In fact, K-State needs to come back from an 11-point deficit to come away with the Governor’s Cup Trophy. The Wildcats had the ball for the final 5 minutes and 33 seconds. They clear the clock. Thousands of K-State fans go crazy in the stands in the final moments. The K-State Marching Band shouts “Happy Trails.”
Then it’s finally over.
K-State stands in front of its fans on the field and celebrates. A player holds the famous sign that reads in four bold words: “WE OWN THIS STATE.”
Then, the players disappear into the locker room with their coaches to be officially presented with the Governor’s Cup Trophy for a 15th normal time.
‘They’ve come a long way,’ says senior quarterback Will Howard said. “All respect to these guys. Since I played them in 2020 until now, it’s a completely different schedule.
“There’s no better feeling than beating KU.”