The last time the Texas Longhorns played in Lawrence, Kansas, the outcome was very different than today’s 24-17 victory over the Jayhawks. The improbable upset by Kansas over the Longhorns two years ago sealed Charlie Strong’s fate as head coach on the 40 Acres, opening the door for Tom Herman to ultimately take the reins of the program. With a trip to the Big 12 Championship and a nine win regular season on the line, Herman and Texas avoided an upset and left Lawrence with a win.
After an opening three and out followed by a 60 yard punt by Kansas kicker Kyle Thompson, the Texas offense jumped on the board quickly. Despite playing with an injured shoulder, Ehlinger capped an 11 play, 98 yard drive with a 26 yard touchdown pass to Collin Johnson. The touchdown would represent the only points of the first half, which saw Texas tally just 158 yards of total offense compared to Kansas’ 82 yards. Sam Ehlinger was picked off twice, ending his school and Big 12 record for consecutive passes without an interception at 308.
Texas safety Brandon Jones was injured while fielding a punt return at the 5:03 mark in the second quarter. Emmanuel Moore was ejected for targeting on Jones, who left for the locker room to be evaluated. Jones would not return in the second half.
The Longhorns scored first in the the second half with Ehlinger tossing a five yard touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Beck, extending the Texas lead to 14-0. Ehlinger would add to the lead at the 1:02 mark in the third quarter, taking the snap on 3rd and goal and barreling into the end zone from the Kansas 3 yard line.
After three quarters of play, Texas held a 21-0 lead over the Jayhawks.
Running back Pooka Williams broke loose for a 57 yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter, giving the Jayhawks their first points of the day. Texas kicker Cameron Dicker made good on a 24 yard field goal with 10:57 left to extend the Texas lead to 24-7.
With 3:27 left in the game, Kansas struck again. Jayhawk quarterback Peyton Bender found Daylon Charlot for a 37 yard touchdown to cut the Texas lead to 24-14. The Jayhawks would successfully recover an onside kick and cap a scoring drive with a 45 yard field goal by Gabriel Rui.
The Longhorns recovered Kansas’ subsequent onside kick attempt and run out the clock en route to a 24-17 win.
Sam Ehlinger finished the game with 154 yards passing and three total touchdowns (2 passing and one rushing). Ehlinger threw two interceptions, his third and fourth on the season.
Texas had 297 yards of total offense compared to Kansas’ 296.
Linebacker Jeff McCulloch registered his first career interception in the fourth quarter, returning it 65 yards.
Texas won its ninth game in the regular season, something the Longhorns haven’t accomplished since 2009. With the win, the Longhorns earned a trip to the Big 12 Championship and will face either West Virginia or Oklahoma next Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
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