AUSTIN (KXAN) — The No. 7 Texas Longhorns blew a 20-point lead but hung on for dear life in a 33-30 overtime win over No. 23 Kansas State on Saturday at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
After gaining just one yard in three plays during their overtime possession, Texas kicker Bert Auburn hit a 42-yard field goal to give the Longhorns the lead. Then, Texas’ vaunted red zone defense did its thing one more time.
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Kansas State quarterback Will Howard hit Ben Sinnott for a 19-yard gain on the Wildcats’ first play in overtime, but the Longhorns held strong for the next four plays. Barryn Sorrell helped end the game as he chased down Howard who flung a prayer up in the air on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line. T’Vondrae Sweat knocked the pass down, and after squandering a huge lead while dominating most of the game, the Longhorns emerged victorious.
“Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I talk about versatility, resiliency and perseverance. Those are all qualities that championship teams have because they find ways to win in critical moments, and that was another example of that for our guys today,” Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “As good as we were playing earlier, own our miscues and some forced by them allowed Kansas State to get back in the game. It tested us and our culture to stick together.”
Texas built a 27-7 lead after Auburn hit a 49-yard field goal with 4:13 left in the third quarter, but it started to unravel for the Longhorns. Kansas State scored three touchdowns in about a 3-minute span to tie the game early in the fourth, thanks in part to two Texas turnovers. Longhorns quarterback Maalik Murphy threw his second interception of the game that led to a Wildcats touchdown, and then Jonathon Brooks had the ball knocked loose on the ensuing drive. Kansas State recovered it and then scored on a 32-yard pass from Howard to Jayce Brown. However, a miscommunication on the PAT snap kept Kansas State from taking a 1-point lead and it remained 27-27 with 12:37 left.
After Auburn nailed a 34-yard kick with 6:03 left in the game, it looked like the game would be left in the hands of the Texas defense that had been great before the onslaught of short-field touchdowns. On third-and-1 from the 8-yard line with just under two minutes remaining, the Longhorns stuff Howard on a sneak to make it fourth down. Kansas State kicker Chris Tennant then yanked his 27-yard field goal attempt left with 1:45 left, leaving Texas still in front 30-27.
Texas couldn’t get a first down on the following drive, however, and had to punt it back to Kansas State. Tennant eventually atoned for his earlier miss and buried a 45-yarder to tie it with a second left on the clock, sending this one to overtime.
“Through it all, could we have found a way to play better in some key moments? Sure,” Sarkisian said. “But we played well enough in the most critical moment.”
The Wildcats took advantage of short fields following the turnovers and a blocked punt. Following the big special teams play in the second quarter, Kansas State went 42 yards to its first score of the game, a 6-yard pass from Howard to Phillip Brooks. Of the Wildcats’ scoring drives, only one of them was longer than four plays.
For Texas, Murphy was 19-for-37 for 248 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Texas turned it over three times and Kansas State turned those into 13 points. Jonathon Brooks rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries with a score and CJ Baxter had 90 yards on 10 carries, including a 54-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on a fourth-and-1 play. Adonai Mitchell had eight catches for 149 yards with the game’s first touchdown, a 37-yard reception from Murphy with 8:36 left in the opening frame.
Auburn made all four of his field goal attempts. He made kicks from 32, 49, 34 and 42 yards.
For Kansas State, Howard overcame a slow start to throw for 327 yards and four touchdowns on 26 of 42 passing. The Wildcats had the No. 5 rushing offense coming into the game, averaging 266 yards per game, but the Longhorns shut it down and allowed 33 yards on 29 attempts.
“We sent a message today, that we will not allow you to run the ball against us,” Texas defensive lineman Byron Murphy said. “We don’t care who you are. We’re going to strap up and play.”
The Longhorns (8-1, 5-1 Big 12 Conference) stay in the hunt for the Big 12 Conference title game with the win. Texas heads up Interstate 35 to play TCU in Fort Worth next week. Kansas State (6-3, 4-2) hosts Baylor.
“To sit here 8-1 sure feels a heck of a lot better than 7-2,” Sarkisian said. “I’m proud of our team, but we also know that we can improve and our best football is still out there.”