• Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

K-State and the 1997 Cotton Bowl

Jan 3, 1997 #football, #k-state, #ksu

by Richard Diepenbrock

Dallas, Texas: January 1, 1997

DALLAS, TX — It doesn’t take much for me to conjure up images of the Cotton Bowl Stadium, the refreshing 70 degree heat and an insane number of K-State fans straining to see K-State Quarterback Brian Kavanagh (#12) pull out a victory in his last game as a Wildcat. He and the offense had scorched the field for the first time all day, and now stood at the Brigham Young University 3 yard line. With only a minute left in the 1997 Cotton Bowl Game, down 15-19 (after leading 15-5 entering the 4th) I just knew we had won. All it would take was a pass to wide receiver and playmaker Kevin Lockett.

Then it happened. Kavanagh passed it deep in the endzone and the ball sailed into the hands of Lockett. TOUCHDOWN! K-State fans, a record 40,000+ strong, purple-clad, erupted — letting out the bottled wildness stored up all day. But, through all the noise, the whistle of the referee thundered. He signaled Lockett had landed out-of-bounds.

Heart weak now, barely able to breath, I settled down, as did we all, and waited for a miracle. We still had a couple of downs remaining. But, Kav. then drew a delay of game penalty (5 yards) and then was sacked. Pushed back to the 12 yard line, it looked all but over.

Then, a god-send. Jimmy Dean, wide receiver, caught a pass at the three. Four new downs. The thirst of victory was on my lips.

The next play will forever shadow my memory as a nightmare. On the next play, instead of utilizing the 4 downs, Kav. threw the ball. Threw it right into the hands of a BYU player.


And the Game.

I won’t go into any more detail. I’m sure you can imagine how I felt. How 40,000+ fans felt. I’m sure the players didn’t feel any better. All I know, is that was K-State’s game. It should have become the school’s second consecutive bowl win. Instead, K-State is now 2-3 in bowl games and 2-2 in the last four years (though, this was the 4th consecutive bowl appearance).

Allow me to move on. I had traveled to Dallas with three friends. Kris, Steph, and Aaron. Aaron, a friend of Steph’s, I had met a couple of weeks prior to the trip. But, Kris and Steph I have known for a few months. We all decided we wanted to go to Dallas and to the Cotton Bowl. Except for Aaron, none of us had been to a Bowl game before and this presented itself as the perfect chance.

We drove down on December 31 (1996), found our hotel and then relaxed in the hot tub. When the New Year arrived, we celebrated some. But, even though the game was the main focus, I would have to say, the whole experience — the time with friends and the different city — was what made the trip fun. Of course, winning the game would have made everything 10x that much more fun.


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