By NICK McQUEEN
When Ed Brown finished up his third season with the Kansas State University football team, he had every intention of simply going to class, graduating, and moving on into what he referred to as an "adult" life.
Then Fort Hays State University assistant coach Al McCray was in touch, and it seemed it didn't take much to make Brown reconsider ending his playing career.
"He said 'Why not play your last year?' Brown recalled Tuesday in the FHSU's weekly news conference. "He really wanted to help me out as a person -- give me that chance to play football. That's why I chose Fort Hays State."
The defensive back from Bradenton, Fla., now a senior with the Tigers, landed on an already loaded returning defense for the Tigers, helping solidify a secondary that already boasted four returning starters from 2013.
"They pretty much accepted me right off the bat," Brown said. "That was great, because sometimes you've got to feel people out. They just accepted me as family and brought me in as a brother right away."
Brown has done his best to fit in by performing on the field. He ranks seventh on the team in tackles with 19 and has one tackle for loss. He also has a team-high four pass break-ups.
Heading into Saturday's game at Washburn, the Tigers were among the top defenses, statistically, in the MIAA, but had a bad day all around in what turned into a 27-24 overtime loss to the Ichabods on the road, snapping FHSU's three-game win streak.
"We stumbled. That's part of the game," Brown said. "Only thing we can do is really come out and get better during practice. We just gave up big plays a couple times, and that's really what hurt us."
The 27 points was the most given up by the Tigers since a 26-7 loss in Week 1. After that, FHSU had given up just 13, seven and six points the next three weeks, including the Sept. 27 at then No. 8 Pittsburg State University.
"After watching the game on film, we just didn't play with any excitement, had no emotion," Tiger head coach Chris Brown said of Saturday's loss. "We didn't play very physical on either side of the ball."
The 426 offensive yards allowed was the most since the season-opening loss, while the Tiger offense had one of its better overall games, yet came up short on a couple scoring opportunities that could have changed the outcome.
"We scored pretty quick," Coach Brown said. "I think right there maybe our guys kind of got a little bit too confidence, probably though it was going to be an easy game."
The TIgers' win the week prior at Pitt State -- the first for FHSU in nearly four decades -- should have been proof, but facing a previously one-win Washburn team, FHSU couldn't produce. The biggest momentum swing came when FHSU had second-and-goal from 2 yards out and couldn't punch it in on two tries with the game tied at 14 in the third quarter.
Then, Washburn drove the length of the field on the Tigers' D to claim the lead. The Ichabods had been turnovers prone in their 1-3 start, and had two Saturday, but not in key situations.
"Defensively, we gave up three big plays, which we're not used to doing," Coach Brown said. "Offensively, we got in key situations where we've got to score points, and we didn't get it done."
FHSU will look to right the ship against another perennial MIAA contender when the Tigers face Missouri Western State University at 7 p.m. Saturday in the homecoming contest at Lewis Field Stadium.
Missouri Western (3-2) is coming off a 23-13 home loss to Pitt State. Four teams are 3-2 in confernece play behind unbeaten and top-ranked Northwest Missouri State University, and a pair of 4-1 teams in Pitt State and Central Oklahoma.
"It all started with today," said sophomore defensive back DeAndre James, who made the start at safety this last two games in place of suspended senior Micheal Jordan. "Coach wanted to see everyone flying around to the ball, everyone giving everything they got on every play. Today we had a good practice.
"That's a step right there."
Tiger junior quarterback Treveon Albert, who was banged up little bit int he Saturday loss, produced his best passing game of the season so far. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 217 yards with a pair of scores, and guided the Tigers down the field in the 2-minute offense to tie the game, and send it to overtime. Senior Ed Williams caught six balls for 121 yards and a score.
"We've been clicking on all cylinders," said Williams. "Guys are getting the plays right and coming together, so it's been going good."
Still, Coach Brown said he'd like to see a little more constancy in the offense. The Tigers scored quick, but then struggled to stay on the field.
"It's better," the coach said of the offense. "Treveon did some good things, and our O-line blocked a little bit better, and we caught some decent balls as well.
"Still not close to where I want it to be yet," he added. "I think we're a long ways away yet, but I'm seeing glimpses of where we could be."
The 372 total yards was the most since FHSU put up 408 in a 48-7 win at Northeastern State University in Week 2. In that game, junior Kevin Spain made the start at QB, got injured, and has not played since. The timetable for his return is still in question, and Albert remains the QB going forward.
"He's got to play well, and understand his keys and his reads, and do things right," Coach Brown said. "He's starting to do those things again. He needs to get his confidence back, and understand he's a good football player."