MANHATTAN — The celebration inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium had been over for a good hour and the fans who stormed the field to share in the experience were long gone when Skylar Thompson finally wandered into the postgame interview room, still visibly emotional.
While others were basking in Kansas State's stunning 48-41 victory over No. 5-ranked Oklahoma, he was still processing what had just taken place.
"I've been sitting in the locker room by myself for the past 20 minutes," he said. "I'm sorry if I held you guys up, but I don't think it has fully hit me, to be honest.
"I've just been at a loss for words, just sitting down there at my locker, just kind of thinking about what we just did and how we did it. It's a special moment for me in my life, but I know for Kansas State in the history here, it will go down as a game that people will remember forever, and just the thought of me being a small part of it is something that I'm truly grateful for."
Thompson played no small part in the upset, throwing for 213 yards and rushing for four touchdowns while guiding an offense that suddenly hit its stride after a rough start in the Big 12.
Then there was the defense, that produced two key turnovers and shut out the OU juggernaut the entire third quarter before the Sooners stormed back over the last 13 minutes.
With the victory, K-State improved to 5-2 and evened its league record at 2-2. Oklahoma fell to 7-1 and 4-1.
OU, which came in as a 23 1/2-point favorite, trailed by 25 points after James Gilbert's 2-yard touchdown run with 12:54 left made it 48-23. But not until a review by officials overturned the Sooners' apparent onside kick recovery with 1:45 to play could the Wildcats and their fans breathe a sigh of relief.
Thompson kneeled down three times in the victory formation and the celebration was on.
"I've never seen that, so it was exciting," said Gilbert, the graduate transfer from Ball State, who accounted for 105 of K-State's 213 rushing yards. "It's homecoming, so it doesn't get any better than that."
Still there were some anxious moments. Down 10 points with just under two minutes left, Oklahoma decided to kick a field goal to get within one possession and Gabe Brkic's 39-yarder at the 1:45 mark cut it to seven.
The Sooners then squibbed an onside kick and fell on the ball to preserve hope. But the video review showed that an OU player touched the ball before it traveled 10 yards and with no timeouts left, they were unable to stop the clock.
Cornerback AJ Parker, whose interception late in the first half helped swing the momentum to K-State, said he was ready regardless of what the call was on the onside kick.
"As a (defense), those are the times you look forward to — under pressure, it's all on you (and) you've got to go make a play," he said. "So we were looking forward to the challenge and opportunity, but it got called in our favor so we're going to accept that.
"But we were ready to go play either way."
The Wildcats, who led 24-23 at halftime, blew the game open with a big third quarter, scoring 17 straight points on a 37-yard Blake Lynch field goal and a pair of Thompson 3-yard touchdown carries. Then they tacked on the Gilbert TD early in the fourth at the end of a 5-minute, 41-second drive.
K-State's much-maligned offense showed perfect balance — 213 yards rushing, 213 through the air — and found the end zone six times against an OU defense that came in allowing just 19 points a game.
"I've got to give credit to our coaches," senior left tackle Scott Frantz said of the resurgent running game. "They had an amazing game plan and we were so confident going into this game.
"They said, 'Just trust us, man. If you execute it, it's going to work.' We came out and played hard. We ran the ball and Skylar threw the ball so great and out wide receivers caught the ball so great and that just complemented the run game."
The Wildcats were buoyed by the return of injured running back Jordon Brown, whose speed and receiving ability helped open up the middle for Gilbert. Then there was Thompson, whose timely runs accounted for 39 yards and the four short TD runs.
"That was huge for us, getting the run game going, being able to throw off it, get the play-action going," Thompson said. "It was a true balanced attack, which is what we strive to do."
The defense got just enough stops to hold off an OU team that came in averaging 50 points and 613 yards per game. The Sooners finished with 497 yards and quarterback Jalen Hurts accounted for 491, completing 19 of 26 passes for 395 yards and a touchdown plus rushing for 96 and two scores.
But K-State also had two sacks and forced two turnovers with an interception and a fumble recovery on a kickoff.
"I'm just glad we won," said linebacker Elijah Sullivan, who finished with six tackles and a sack. "It came down to the end, a seven-point game, but I'm glad we won and it's a great win for the team.
"I don't think I've ever beaten OU since I've been here for me so this is a first one for me and I'm going to take it in and cherish it for the moment now and get back to work next week."
K-State trailed 10-0 early in the game, but put together a pair of scoring drives on 4-yard touchdown runs by Thompson and Joshua Youngblood to keep within striking distance.
Then after Lynch's 35-yard field goal cut the deficit to 24-20 with 1:22 left in the half, the Wildcats got the break they needed.
On a wide receiver pass from Nick Basquine, the ball was tipped into the hands of Parker, who returned it to the Sooner 14. Three plays later, Thompson ran it in untouched to give the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish.
"Any time you get a turnover on defense it shifts momentum and it's going to give your offense good field position," Parker said. "I feel it was a big play.
"It was just a player where I was where I was supposed to be and I caught the ball and it changed the game."
The other turnover came in the third quarter after K-State took the second-half kickoff and drove for a field goal. On the Wildcats' kick, Eric Gallon forced a fumble and Ross Elder recovered, setting up 46-yard scoring drive.
"What can you say about the resolve of our guys," K-State coach Chris Klieman said. "I'm so proud of the players and the coaches.
"We told them before the game that we belong on this stage and told them to continue to believe."
The game ended a three-game home stand for the Wildcats, who head to Lawrence next Saturday the Sunflower Showdown with Kansas.