AUSTIN, TX — Tom Herman mentioned the margin of error for the Longhorns heading into the Kansas State game as being “slim.” Using a pugilistic analogy, he talked about “fight or flight” response, with the response being the determining factor for the future of his team. A loss to Kansas State would essentially end Texas’ chances of playing in the Big 12 Championship Game in December, leaving the team still in search of an identity in year three of the Herman era.
It was a tale of two halves for both teams, with Kansas State scoring the first two touchdowns on its first two possessions, and then not scoring again until the 4th quarter. The Longhorns then rattled off 24 unanswered points after the 14-0 deficit.
In the end, Texas (6-3, 4-2) chose to fight. They defeated their first ranked team of the season in #20 Kansas State (6-3, 3-3), 31-24, in front of a crowd of 97,833 at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. While the team’s identity may still be murky, the Longhorns helped their cause by improving to 4-2 in Big 12 play, becoming bowl eligible for the third time in three years under Tom Herman.
Herman’s post-game presser statements validated his comments earlier in the week. This team isn’t defeated.. dejected. They still have fight left in them.
“You know, with what these guys have been through these last few weeks and every — all the misinformation that’s been out there and said and written about this team and the attitude and togetherness of this team, teams that aren’t together, teams that don’t love each other, teams that are splintered, teams that are selfish don’t go down 14-0. We can’t get off the field on defense, can’t do anything on offense. Teams that are all those things, they splinter, and it turns into a blowout. They wave the white flag, and it could have been a really, really bad scene in DKR. But the win is obviously very important for us and what we wanted to accomplish tonight.”
Cameron Dicker’s 26-yard field goal will officially go in the books as the game-winner, but a maligned Texas defense made stops when it mattered. Speaking of defense, the Longhorns held a prolific Kansas State rushing attack to just 51 yards on 26 carries. The Wildcats were averaging 217 yards on the ground per game.
Sam Ehlinger threw for 263 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the win, while his two favorite wide receiver targets – Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay each had 110 yards receiving. And Keaontay Ingram’s career-high 139 rushing yards and two touchdowns shouldn’t go unnoticed in the team’s effort. Kansas State had a top-20 rushing defense prior to this contest.
KSU quarterback Skylar Thompson threw for a career-high 253 yards and had net-zero on the stat-line for rushing yards.
Texas won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, positioning Kansas State on offense first. After two rushing plays for five yards, Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson lobbed a third down pass to Malik Knowles. Texas blitzed. Knowles hauled in the pass and shook off Brandon Jones 10 yards deep, running all the way into the end zone for the first score of the game. Texas couldn’t answer, with the Longhorns’ first possession ending with Cameron Dicker’s 55-yard field goal attempt sailing left of the uprights.
The Wildcats took full advantage of Dicker’s missed kick, using an eight play, 64 yard drive to put another touchdown on the board. This time it was Skylar Thompson to Wykeen Gill for 19 yards. After one quarter, Kansas State led Texas 14-0.
Roschon Johnson rushed for six yards to the Kansas State 21 yard line on 4th and 1, keeping Texas’ drive alive on the next possession. On the following play Texas dialed up a flea-flicker which, saw Sam Ehlinger find a wide-open Collin Johnson in the end zone. Johnson’s touchdown was his first since the season-opening game against Louisiana Tech. At the 12:03 mark in the second quarter Kansas State held a 14-7 lead.
On the Wildcats’ next possession, Brandon Jones’ hit on Wildcat fullback Mason Barta caused a fumble at the Texas 38-yard line. Texas defensive lineman Moro Ojomo recovered the fumble, but the Longhorns would fail to capitalize on the turnover, instead going three and out and punting it away.
As the halftime clock expired, Kansas State would take 217 passing yards and just 29 rushing yards into the locker room for a 14-7 lead.
Keaontay Ingram’s 34 yard rushing touchdown to open the second half tied the score at 14-14. After forcing Kansas State to punt, Texas took its first lead of the game on its next possession. Cameron Dicker made good on his first field goal of the day, from 34 yards out, capping a seven play 52 yard scoring drive that took 2:33 off the clock.
With 9:02 left in the 3rd quarter, the Longhorns led the Wildcats 17-14.
Texas appeared to be setting up another scoring drive after forcing another Wildcat punt. Consecutive passes to Devin Duvernay left the Longhorns at the Kansas State 18 yard line, but Collin Johnson was flagged for holding. On 2nd and 8 from the Wildcat 28 yard line, Ehlinger looked for Duvernay in the end zone, but threw into triple coverage and was intercepted.
Brandon Jones returned the ensuing Kansas State punt 53 yards to the Wildcat 20-yard line, setting up Keaontay Ingram’s 12-yard scamper into the end zone to extend the Texas lead to 24-14.
Kansas State answered on the kickoff, with Joshua Youngblood torching the Longhorns on a 98-yard touchdown return to cut the ‘Horns lead to 24-21. The score by Kansas State was the first for the Wildcats since the 5:18 mark in the first quarter.
With 12:03 remaining in the game, Texas held a slim 24-21 lead over Kansas State.
Texas held the last possession of the game, marching 67 yards on 13 plays and draining 6:45 off the clock. On 4th & goal with :03 left on the game clock, Cameron Dicker squared up for a 26-yard game winning field goal attempt. As the clock expired, Dicker’s kick split the uprights and propelled the Longhorns to a 27-24 win.
Hopes of an appearance in the conference championship game are still alive. But Herman and his staff have work to do if they intend to replicate tonight’s success next weekend in Ames.
”Obviously we put ourselves on the ropes, and we took a step towards swinging and clawing and scratching our way off, but we know we’ve got to go on the road this week and continue to try to get off the ropes, but doing it with this level of confidence helps,” said Herman.
Texas will face the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium next Saturday at 2:30 on FS1.
- Sam Ehlinger’s TD pass in the 2nd quarter was #60 for the junior, tying Major Applewhite for 2nd all-time at Texas
- Collin Johnson’s 2nd quarter touchdown catch was his first since the season-opener against Louisiana Tech
- Skylar Thompson’a previous career-high in passing yards in a game was 218 yards (Baylor – 10/5/19). Thompson broke his career high with 253 yards against the Longhorns.
- The touchdown return on the kickoff by Kansas State’s Joshua Youngblood was the first by Texas since the 2014 season (Oklahoma)
- Jalen Green was disqualified for targeting at the 7:50 mark in the 4th quarter
- Junior Angilau suffered a knee injury and will have an MRI tomorrow
- Texas extended its winning streak over Kansas State to three games
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