No. 24 Texas at No. 13 Kansas State final score: Late forced fumble gives Longhorns 34-27 win

On a cool, sunny day in Manhattan, the No. 24 Texas Longhorns continue the defining final stretch of the 2022 season with a matchup against the No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats at 6:00 p.m. Central on FS1.

Among the major storylines:

  • Which quarterback will play for the Wildcats — senior transfer Adrian Martinez or junior Will Howard?
  • Can Texas continue its five-game winning streak against Kansas State?
  • Will Horns head coach Steve Sarkisian finally pick up his second road win at Texas after losing the last five?
  • Who will be available in the Longhorns secondary after three players suffered injuries two weeks ago against the Cowboys?
  • Can Texas redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers recover from his poor performance in Stillwater?

Pregame

It’s going to be another windy game with the wind at 18 miles per hour with about 60 minutes to kickoff. When the sun goes down, the wind will decrease in speed and shouldn’t have as much of an impact during the second half of the game — by 8 p.m. Central, the winds are forecast to be down to about 13 miles per hour.

Senior safety Anthony Cook went through warmups with a case on his broken left forearm after suffering that injury two weeks ago in Stillwater.

After suffering a hamstring injury in the same game, junior cornerback Ryan Watts also went through the non-padded portion of warmups.

The other injury to watch in the secondary is that of freshman cornerback Jaylon Guilbeau.

Warmups may not provide much clarity about the situation at quarterback for the Wildcats.


First quarter

After winning the toss, Kansas State deferred to the second half with Texas starting on the 25-yard line on a touchback. On the first play, Ewers tried to find sophomore right end Ja’Tavion Sanders on a play-action shot play, but wasn’t able to connect on a ball that was slightly underthrown. When junior running back Bijan Robinson was stopped for a short gain on second down, the Horns quickly faced third and long with Ewers connecting with Sanders on a crossing down to convert.

On a glance route run-pass option, Kansas State cornerback Julius Brents was called for a targeting penalty hitting Texas junior wide receiver Jordan Whittington helmet to helmet, a decision confirmed on review. After another first down, Robinson found a crease on Counter and did the rest himself, racing for a 36-yard touchdown to give the Longhorns the early 7-0 lead.

It’s now the 11th straight game that Robinson has scored a rushing touchdown, tying Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson for the school record.

After a strong return from Malik Knowles, Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn picked up two first downs on runs. Then, flooding the boundary with three players and the motion from a wide receiver, Vaughn got open on a seam route of the backfield for a 28-yard touchdown reception to tie the game.

A throw-back screen to Robinson picked up 19 yards to jumpstart the ensuing Texas drive with an eight-yard run from the Longhorns star setting up a 3rd and 2 he converted on the ground. Ewers then hit Sanders on a perfect touch pass for 18 yards and junior running back Keilan Robinson picked up 11 yards on an inventive push pass before senior running back Roshon Johnson scored on a nine-yard touchdown run.

Kansas State didn’t benefit from such strong field position on the second down when Texas junior safety Kitan Crawford brought down Knowles at the 12-yard line. The first four plays for the Wildcats gained 27 yards, including an eight-yard scramble by Martinez that resulted in an injury to Longhorns junior nickel back Jahdae Barron when he collided with junior linebacker Jaylan Ford as Martinez slid. With Barron out, Kansas State continued to move the football as an 11-yard run by Vaughn set the Wildcats up at the Longhorns 11-yard line as the first quarter expired.


Second quarter

Texas was able to hold in the red zone, however, holding Vaughn to a short gain, breaking up a pass in the end zone, and then stuffing Martinez on a quarterback run to force a field goal that made it 14-10.

Throws to Sanders and Whittington gave the Longhorns some rhythm on their third drive, consolidated with a screen pass to freshman wide receiver Savion Red and a subsequent first-down run by Robinson. In the red zone, a double move by Texas sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy produced a 13-yard touchdown as Ewers was able to connect with his best wide receiver several plays after Worthy was visibly frustrated when Ewers missed another deep ball.

The Longhorns defense responded with a second-down sack of Martinez by sophomore Buck end Barryn Sorrell and then got off the field by stopping a screen pass to Vaughn on third down, forcing the game’s first punt.

Ewers missed another shot play to Worthy to start the fourth drive for the Longhorns. A nine-yard gain by Robinson set up third and short, but Ewers was stopped on a quarterback sneak, forcing a fourth-down attempt, which went to Johnson, who fumbled at the end of a 37-yard gain and was recovered by Kansas State in a massive, game-changing play.

On first down, the Wildcats missed a shot play to wide receiver Kade Warner and Longhorns redshirt freshman safety Michael Taaffe made a nice tackle of Martinez in the open field. Facing a 3rd and 6, Martinez hit Knowles for a 61-yard gain over the middle.

Just outside the Texas red zone, Kansas State gained six yards on 3rd and 8 to set up a fourth-down attempt. When the Wildcats went for the end zone, Barron was able to play through the hands of Brooks for another game-changing play.

A 68-yard run by Robinson on 3rd and 3 changed the dynamics of the late second quarter as Sarkisian dialed up a pin and pull run that featured freshman left tackle Kelvin Banks steamrolling a Kansas State defender.

When Robinson was caught from behind, however, Texas had two unproductive plays that resulted in a 3rd and goal from the Wildcats 9-yard line that nearly produced an interception when Kansas State called an all-out blitz and was hit while trying to throw, setting up a 28-yard field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Bert Auburn to make it 24-10.

Facing a critical defensive possession, the Texas defense came up with a critical play as Ford took an excellent pass drop and came up with his second interception of the season, returning the ball to the Kansas State 27-yard line.

Another screen pass caught by Red produced 11 yards and Robinson ran for another nine before Sanders converted a first down inside the Wildcats 10-yard line with 25 seconds left. A short run by Robinson forced the second timeout by the Longhorns with a big opportunity to extend the lead to three touchdowns. On third down, Ewers hit Worthy again for a massive touchdown to make it 31-10.


Third quarter

Poor strong coverage from the Texas kickoff coverage forced poor field position and the Longhorns defense stuffed Martinez on 3rd and 4 to get off the field, although the Wildcats won the field position battle with a 61-yard punt to the Texas 4-yard line.

Penalties started to impact the Longhorns again before Worthy fumbled on a third-down conversion and the Wildcats recovered. Penalty swings continued to impact the game with two calls against Kansas State and then a personal foul against Texas junior safety Jerrin Thompson to give the Wildcats a first down. And Kansas State took advantage, scoring on a short touchdown run by Martinez to keep the home team in the game at 31-17.

On a huge drive for the Longhorns, Ewers delivered a perfect strike to Whittington on 3rd and 4 to extend it. Runs on first and second down set up 3rd and 6 with Ewers hitting Worthy on a crossing route for another conversion. But a false start by Red put Texas behind the chains with a third pre-snap penalty in the second half, Ewers missed yet another shot play to Worthy, Robinson was stopped at the line of scrimmage, and a running back screen went incomplete, producing the first punt by senior Daniel Trejo, which went for only 29 yards.

After a missed facemask call on Vaughn on a 2nd and 3 stop at the line of scrimmage, a false start by the Wildcats backed them up to 3rd and 8 before another false start made it 3rd and 13. An incomplete pass from Martinez resulted in a crucial punt forced by the Longhorns defense.

But Texas hurt itself again with an incomplete pass and a false start penalty before Robinson bailed out the Horns with a 13-yard gain on a screen pass made mostly with his vision and feet. Robinson was stuffed on third down, however, as Kansas State loaded the box and got the stop.

Two pass plays picked up 45 yards for the Wildcats, who dodged a game-changing moment when Ford forced a fumble recovered by Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott.


Fourth quarter

Exploiting zone coverage by the Longhorns, the Wildcats opened the final quarter with a 25-yard touchdown to Warner.

Following a run stuff on first down, Robinson picked up eight yards on second down, then had a huge conversion to move the chains. When Johnson was thrown down out of bounds after a six-yard gain, the Longhorns picked up a big personal foul penalty for an extra 15 yards, then another big penalty for defensive holding. A catch by Sanders moved the Longhorns into the red zone with a first down, where Texas gained only three yards on two runs and couldn’t convert a rail route to Robinson when Ewers was hit while delivering the pass. Auburn finished the drive with his second field goal, this time from 29 yards to extend the lead to 34-24.

Texas missed a sack on first down when sophomore defensive tackle failed to warp up Martinez on a play that resulted in a 12-yard completion and the Horns were able to force a 3rd and 9, but Martinez completed another pass under pressure. Big runs by Martinez hurt the Texas defense, too, moving the ball into the red zone until a false start moved the Wildcats out of it again. A brush of the face mask of Vaughn did result in a penalty, giving Kansas State critical yardage and a first down. Two stops by the Longhorns resulted in a 3rd and 9 for the Wildcats and an incompletion from Martinez, leading to a 28-yard field goal by Kansas State.

A strong run by Robinson for four yards against a loaded box started the drive before gaining three yards on second down as the Wildcats called a timeout with 3:37 remaining. Perhaps anticipating a play into the boundary, Kansas State blew up a tough block for Texas senior right tackle Christian Jones for a loss of five yards, leading to a 55-yard punt by Trejo.

Against a Texas defense intent on keeping everything on front of them, Kansas State started the drive with a series of completions before a batted pass at the line of scrimmage. Under pressure, Martinez fumbled, but a pursuit to the sideline by two Texas players couldn’t corral the football. On 4th and 6 with the game on the line, Martinez scrambled and threw across his body to Vaughn for a first down. But the Longhorns responded as senior nose tackle Keondre Coburn forced a fumble and Ford was able to recover the loose ball that was kicked in the post-fumble fray.

With 24 seconds remaining, Texas was able to kneel out the clock and secure the second road win of the Sarkisian era.

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