On a day of exciting finishes all over the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns managed to outlast the Kansas State Wildcats in double overtime on Saturday night.
The first quarter was highlighted by struggles for both teams on the offensive side of the ball. Kansas State was the first team to get on the scoreboard with a long 54 yard field goal. Texas appeared to be gathering momentum on the preceding possession, but they were stuffed at the KSU one yard line on fourth and goal.
Backed up against their own end zone, it would take Kansas State all of four plays to find another score. On second and long, QB Jess Ertz hit Dalton Schoen streaking across the field for an 82 yard TD.
True freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the Horns would respond, however, marching down the field and scoring on a one yard touchdown run that made it a one score game, 10-7.
Ertz again began to show off his passing acumen once again and one of his throws hit Schoen for 12 yards and the touchdown. That put the Wildcats up 17-7.
Momentum seemed to be shifting towards the team in purple, but Ehlinger’s power running ability would allow the Longhorns to answer. A long scamper by him set up a 33 yard pass to running back Chris Warren III that pulled Texas again within a score, 17-14.
A stop by the Longhorn D meant that Texas would get the ball back with a chance to get the lead before the end of the half. Ehlinger again marched the offense down the field. A handoff to running back Kyle Porter at the one yard line put the Horns up 21-17 going into halftime.
The Longhorns would begin the scoring in the second half, as Ehlinger began hitting his receivers and put Texas in position for the Joshua Rowland field goal that put Texas up, 24-17.
A few plays later, Kansas State would tie the game. A D.J. Reed punt return gave the Wildcats a short field at the 34 yard line. Backup quarterback Alex Delton used his legs to score with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
Delton would stay in at QB and lead the Wildcats down the field on their next drive. The ten play drive took up five minutes and ended with a Matthew McCrane field goal to put Kansas State in the lead 27-24.
After a missed Rowland field goal, Texas managed to get the ball back with four minutes left and get on the move again. They got inside the redzone and this time Rowland would redeem himself for his miss by hitting the game tying 34 yard field goal, 27-27. That score would stand through the end of regulation.
The first overtime period began with Texas on offense and it didn’t take them long to score. Ehlinger hit wideout Jerrod Heard for the 25 yard TD pass to get the Longhorns up 34-27.
Alex Delton would takeover for Kansas State and pick up yardage running lead plays, one of which went for eight yards and six points. A sure PAT from McCrane made it 34-34 at the end of the first overtime.
Kansas State’s next possession would be less successful, though. Penalties and an inability to move the ball forced the Wildcats to try for the 53 yard field goal. The ball hit the upright and bounced onto the turf, no good.
Ehlinger once again did his part to get the Longhorns to the two yard line. Warren then got the handoff and stayed on his feet inside of a pile of burnt orange and purple that moved over the goal line. That run got the win in OT for Texas, 40-34.
|3rd Down Eff||2-11||8-15|
|4th Down Eff||0-0||0-1|
|Yards Per Pass||11.0||7.5|
|Yards Per Rush||3.6||4.2|
|KSU – J. Ertz||12/18||224||12.4||2||1||75.3|
|UT – S. Ehlinger||30/50||380||7.6||2||1||71.1|
|KSU – A. Delton||12||79||6.6||2||22|
|UT – S. Ehlinger||20||107||5.3||0||24|
|KSU – D. Schoen||5||128||25.6||2||82|
|UT – R. Hemphill-Mapps||12||121||10.1||0||20|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
While the punting and kickoff units were solid for the Longhorns, and maybe even a plus on the day, the field goal unit missed crucial kicks that could have sealed the game for Texas in regulation. Joshua Rowland has made four out of his nine field goals on the season. Like the 27 yarder he missed tonight, too few of those have been well within his range. In a conference that looks like it will feature one score games on the regular, the Longhorns need their kicker to find his groove.
Early on, this was a very un-Kansas State game for Kansas State. Throughout most of the first half, Jesse Ertz was able to find wide open receivers for quick scores. The good news for KSU fans is that the passing game showed signs of life, with Ertz finishing the day at 11.1 yards per pass. The bad news is that Kansas State struggled early on to run the ball with Ertz behind center. The much quicker footed QB Alex Delton came in to jumpstart the rushing attack in the second half and no doubt fans will see him later in the season.
The Texas passing game got a major infusion of life in this game. Mostly that was powered by Sam Ehlinger, who was able to hit receivers on quick, short routes. Those recievers, though, managed to get multiple yards after the catch. Six different players caught passes for the Longhorns and they all averaged at least ten yards per catch. The ‘dink and dunk’ passing game that Texas employed in this game is by no means eye-popping, but it worked well enough for the Longhorns tonight.
Although the Wildcat defense gave up some yards outside the redzone, once the Longhorns got inside the 20 yard line Kansas State was determined to make them work for scores. Twice Texas got inside the KSU ten yard line and twice they came away with no points. That ended up being a big deal in the game that went into overtime. The Wildcats did almost enough defensively to win this game. In the end, they just didn’t make enough plays that were there to be made.
D.J. Reed had one punt return for fifteen yards that eventually set Kansas State up to go into the end zone, but outside of that the return game for the Wildcats was largely nonexistent. If the Wildcats hope to try to make some noise in the conference, their special teams will have to be slightly more special.
By the eye test, Sam Ehlinger looks to have secured the starting spot at quarterback for the Longhorns. Anyone who’s watched the Texas offense and its struggles this season can tell that the offense seems to have an undeniable energy with Ehlinger behind center. He was the team’s leading passer and rusher, and while Texas needs to get more from its running backs, the true freshman QB came up with big plays whenever they were needed.