No. 13 Texas 24, No. 16 Kansas State 20
AUSTIN, Texas -- In front of the sixth-largest crowd in UT history (83,643), the No. 13 Longhorns opened Big 12 play with a 24-20 win over No. 16 Kansas State on Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The game came down to the final minutes as Texas QB Vince Young pushed in a one-yard touchdown run for the game-winning score with just over five minutes remaining.
"This was a great game for college football," head coach Mack Brown said. "You had two great football teams in the top 20, and you have to give Kansas State credit. We had them down and on the ropes at halftime, but they came back out and dominated the third quarter. Our players and coaches deserve credit as well for taking the momentum back in the fourth quarter. We had some players step up in the end."
In a game that opened with strong defense from both teams, Texas got on the board first with Tony Jeffery's second career blocked punt recovery for a touchdown. Michael Huff broke through the line for the block in the end zone with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter and Jeffery fell on it for a 7-0 lead as Kansas State was attempting to punt from its own eight-yard line.
Texas began its next possession on Kansas State's 44-yard line after Nathan Vasher returned a Wildcat punt 15 yards, setting a new UT record for career punt return yards with 1,082, passing Eric Metcalf (1,076). Vasher finished with 30 yards for the game and a total of 1,097. That return set up an 11-play, 40-yard scoring drive on the strength of 20 rushing yards by RB Cedric Benson that ended in a Dusty Mangum field goal for a 10-0 lead with 12:55 remaining in the half. It was the first field goal the Longhorns had attempted in 15 quarters going back to the second quarter of the New Mexico State game.
Benson tallied 54 yards rushing in the game, giving him 2,683 for his career and moving him to sixth on Texas' career rushing list, passing Metcalf and Hodges Mitchell.
Later in the quarter, Kansas State drove to the Texas 12-yard line and attempted to convert on fourth and one, but the Longhorn defense held QB Ell Roberson to no gain for the turnover on downs. However, the Wildcats' next drive would result in points in the form of a 41-yard field goal by Joe Rheem with 2:10 to go in the half, cutting the Texas lead to 10-3.
Texas was not done for the half, though. The Longhorns mounted a 72-yard drive in six plays that was capped by a 51-yard touchdown reception from QB Chance Mock to WR Sloan Thomas down the right side with 1:01 left for the 17-3 halftime margin. For the game, Mock completed 7-of-16 passes for 88 yards and extended his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 104, third longest in UT history.
Kansas State scored on its first possession of the third quarter as Roberson finished a 39-yard drive with a 27-yard run down the right sideline. The Wildcats quickly added two more points on a safety that resulted from a blocked punt that traveled 22 yards out of Texas' end zone to make the score 17-12.
The Longhorns moved on their next possession from their own 30 down to the Kansas State 15 in eight plays when Benson lost the ball fighting for extra yards on a run to the left side, giving the Wildcats the ball at the 11. The Longhorn defense held Kansas State to three and out, but on their next possession, the Wildcats started at the Texas 49-yard line.
On the third play, a 42-yard screen pass from Roberson to WR James Terry set KSU up on the Longhorn one-yard line. Roberson scored on a quarterback sneak from there with 14:02 to go in the game, and also ran in a three-yard, two-point conversion attempt to give Kansas State a 20-17 lead.
Despite an exchange of fumbles in Texas territory, the Wildcat lead held until Young found WR Tony Jeffery on a 52-yard reception, putting the Longhorns at the Kansas State 13-yard line. Six plays later, on fourth down from the one, Young pushed through the pile for the game-winning score at 24-20 with 5:19 to go. Young set career highs in both passing and rushing yards, recording 69 yards in the air and 80 on the ground. Roy Williams led the team in receptions with three for 22 yards.
"Tony Jeffery made a great catch toward the end that turned the game around, and Richmond McGee had a good kicking day, with the exception of the safety," Brown said. "That was a team mistake. He punted well, and I think that our kickoffs are also improving. The fumble on the 15-yard line hurt us, and we were disappointed in our pass protection, but it was a great win for our guys. We needed a tough, come-from-behind win, and I am proud that our guys did what they needed to do in order to win it."
Over Kansas State's final two series, the Texas defense held the Wildcats to eight yards and no first downs to seal the game, taking over on downs on the last series with 50 seconds remaining at the KSU 20-yard line and running out the clock.