K-State Survives Late Texas Rally, 24-21




3-4 (1-3 Big 12)

4-3 (2-2 Big 12)

S. Buechele (QB): 17-24, 222yds, 2TD
D. Foreman (RB): 24car, 124yds 1TD
D. Leonard (WR): 3rec, 27yds, 1TD

J. Ertz (QB): 20-27, 171yds, 1TD
C. Jones (RB): 12car, 81yds 0TD
D. Burton (WR): 7rec, 53yds, 0TD

TEAM 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Texas 0 7 7 7 21
K-State 7 14 3 0 24

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Two first half rushing touchdowns from quarterback Jesse Ertz and an all-around resilient defensive effort propelled K-State over Texas, 24-21, on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in front of 52,328 fans.

K-State’s victory was its sixth straight over Texas at home and the eighth in the last 10 meetings between the teams. The Longhorns have not won in Manhattan since 2002.

Opposite of last week, K-State (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) went ahead early, 14-0, just minutes into the second quarter and held a 21-7 advantage at the half. The Wildcats dominated the first half’s time of possession, holding the ball for more than 23 minutes, while running 26 more plays en route to 244 total yards. Texas (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) was held to six first downs and 160 total yards before the break, with 80 of those yards alone coming on their touchdown pass.

A defensive battle broke out in the second half as K-State only mustered eight first downs and 161 yards. The Longhorns came up with three K-State turnovers after the break, but were only able to convert their opportunities into two scores.

Although replaced late, it was Ertz that led K-State out of the huddle. Ertz had his most efficient first half of the season, accounting for all three of the Wildcats’ touchdowns. He finished 20-of-27 for 171 yards with one touchdown, while also running 18 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Ertz was replaced in the fourth quarter by senior Joe Hubener, who took care of the final two series for K-State.

Outside of Ertz’s rushing effort, K-State was paced by two running backs in the running game. Senior Charles Jones rushed 12 times for 81 yards, moving him into 13th place on K-State all-time rushing yards list with 1,557. Sophomore Justin Silmon carried the ball 11 times for 58 yards, including a 25-yard long run in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats racked up 234 rushing yards on 51 carries Saturday, an average of 4.6 yards per rush.

For the second consecutive week, sophomore Dominique Heathled the way for K-State receivers. Heath caught all seven of his targets for 41 yards, while senior Deante Burton brought in four passes for 53 yards, including K-State’s longest pass of the day of 31 yards. Sophomore Byron Pringle hauled in four balls for 42 yards, as well as the Wildcats’ lone receiving score – the second of his young K-State career.  

The Wildcats finished with 405 yards of total offense – more than 60 yards above their average, thanks in part to 234 rushing yards. K-State ran 78 plays compared to Texas’ 62, while also winning the time of possession battle by nearly 17 minutes.

On the defensive side of the ball, K-State was tasked with slowing a Longhorn offense that boasts the Big 12’s leading rusher, D'Onta Foreman, and an attack that racks up nearly 500 yards of total offense per week. The Wildcats were not phased, though, limiting Texas’ to just 344 total yards and containing Freeman to 124 yards rushing, 22 below his average. 

Junior linebacker Elijah Lee and senior defensive end Jordan Willis led the charge with seven tackles apiece. Willis recorded three tackles for loss, including two sacks, moving him into fourth in school history in sacks with 22.5. Three other Wildcats – senior safety Dante Barnett, senior linebacker Charmeachealle Moore and sophomore safety Kendall Adams – recorded five tackles each, while sophomore cornerback D.J. Reed and junior defensive end Tanner Wood pitched in four tackles, as well.

The Wildcats’ special team’s units were used few and far between on Saturday as junior placekicker Matthew McCrane converted his only field goal attempt from 35-yards in the third quarter.

K-State received the opening kickoff and the offense quickly went to work. Ertz completed a 31-yard pass down the Texas sideline to Burton to get into Longhorn territory. A series of offside penalties aided the Wildcats’ drive before Ertz scored from 6-yards out on the option to cap off the opening nine-play, 68-yard drive in 5:37.

Texas, on its first possession, used 42 rushing yards from Freeman to drive to K-State’s 31-yard line. However, a Kyle Ball sack on third down took the Longhorns out of field goal range to force a punt.

K-State’s following possession wound out the remaining of the first quarter and dipped into the second, as the drive elapsed seven minutes and 23 second. The Wildcats went 80 yards in 16 plays for the score when Ertz took an inside run 19-yards for his second rushing touchdown of the game to give K-State a 14-0 lead with 13:32 remaining in the half.  

Both teams failed to move into scoring position over their next two series. Texas changed that with a lightning fast score with 4:03 left in the half as quarterback Shane Buechele found wide out Devin Duvernay for a streaking 80-yard touchdown pass to close the gap, 14-7.

Just before the break, though, K-State responded with a score of their own. Ertz completed six passes for 53 yards during the Wildcats’ nine play, 75-yard drive, including the 8-yard touchdown pass to an open Pringle in the back of the end zone to put the Wildcats up 21-7 at the half.  

The Longhorns brought the ball to K-State’s 26-yard line on the ensuing possession. The Wildcats forced a fourth down, one that Texas opted to attempt, but Buechele’s pass was dropped and the Big 12’s top defense escaped again.

After a 25-yard run from Silmon put K-State in the red zone, the home team added a McCrane 35-yard field goal to make it 24-7 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

Texas bounced back through senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who capped off a 12 play, 75-yard drive to close out the third quarter. Swoopes’ 8-yard touchdown run narrowed the margin to 10 points, 24-14.

Ertz was intercepted on K-State’s following drive, with the Longhorns’ return setting them up at the Wildcat 42-yard line. However, the K-State defense rose to the occasion, nearly forcing a fumble before poking away a near touchdown on fourth-and-17 with just over eight minutes in the game.

The Texas defense came up with its third takeaway of the game minutes later when Ertz lost hold of a quarterback sneak. The Longhorns drove deep inside K-State’s half, all the way to the nine-yard line, but the K-State front seven did not budge. Texas settled for 35-yard field goal, only to see the attempt hook wide left.

The Longhorns then went on to score with 46 seconds remaining, a 6-yard touchdown pass from Buechele to Dorian Leonard, to cut the score to 24-21. However, Texas’ onside kick bounced out of bounds, allowing the Wildcats to kneel on the balls.

K-State will travel to Ames, Iowa, next Saturday, Oct. 29, for a Big 12 matchup against Iowa State (1-6, 0-4 Big 12). Kickoff against the Cyclones is set for 11 a.m., CT on FSN.