There were 153 snaps taken in Texas’ 40-34 double-over win over Kansas State on Saturday. Here are five that ended up making a big difference:
1. Early error
Upon receiving the opening kickoff, Texas tried to make an early statement. UT freshman Sam Ehlinger, however, under-threw a deep pass to Lorenzo Joe, and Kansas State cornerback D.J. Reed intercepted the game’s first play.
The pick was the fifth career turnover for Ehlinger, who was making his third start. Texas coach Tom Herman, though, wasn’t overly concerned about the play. Said Herman afterwards: “When you throw an interception because it’s a bad throw but a good read, those are easy to shake off, because you know, hey, bad throws happen, and I’ve got to do better and move on.”
Ehlinger went onto throw the football 49 more times. His 380 passing yards were the 10th-most in school history, and they established a new standard for true freshmen. (As a redshirt freshman, Major Applewhite threw for 408 yards in a 1998 game against Oklahoma State). Since he also ran for 107 yards, Ehlinger joined Jerrod Heard (California, 2015) and Colt McCoy (Texas A&M, 2009) as the only Texas quarterback to throw for 300 yards and for 100 more in the same game.
2. Ertz hurt
One of the game’s biggest tackles for Texas wasn’t actually made by a Longhorn. On a third-quarter run, Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz stumbled to the turf without getting touched. He then went to the sidelines with what the Wichita Eagle reported to be “an apparent knee injury.”
Ertz was replaced by sophomore Alex Delton, who gave the Texas defense fits as he ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Delton, though, only completed two passes, and had a costly misfire as Kansas State attempted to re-gain yardage in the second overtime.
3. Chris Warren III to the rescue (the first time)
Texas junior Chris Warren III caught a touchdown pass, and he rushed for the game-winning score. (More on that later). Warren’s biggest contribution, though, was a play that was not called for him.
Trailing 27-24, Texas put together a scoring drive that Joshua Rowland ended with a 34-yard field goal with 1:37 remaining. One of the possession’s key plays was a 15-yard catch by Lil’Jordan Humphrey. While trying to gain extra yardage, Humphrey attempted to hurdle a Kansas State defender but lost the football in the process.
Warren, however, pounced on the fumble. The running back was lined up as a receiver on the play. He said he was in the right place at the right time.
“I didn’t even notice the ball was on the ground for at least a second or two,” said Warren, who joked that his teammates were attempting on-field hurdles since he pulled off the move twice in last month’s win over San Jose State. “But then the ball bounced toward me and I just ended up jumping on the ball.”
Warren’s recovery kept the ball in Texas’ possession at the Kansas 40. Seven players later, the score was tied.
With 1:32 left in regulation, Kansas State attempted to give kicker Matthew McCrane – who had hit a 54-yard field goal earlier in the game – a chance to win the game. Since Kansas State needed to throw the football, Ertz temporarily returned to the Wildcats’ huddle.
— Hookem Football (@hornsfootball) October 8, 2017
The Wildcats started the drive at their 17 and moved 13 yards in four plays. After Kansas State called a timeout with 41 seconds remaining, UT safety DeShon Elliott was able to track down and intercept an Ertz pass at the Texas 33.
The interception was the fifth in three games for Elliott, who entered his junior year with three career picks. Earl Thomas’ eight interceptions in 2009 is the single-season record at Texas.
5. Chris Warren III to the rescue (the second time)
Texas and Kansas State traded a Jerrod Heard touchdown catch for Delton’s eight-yard scoring run in the first overtime. McCrane then barely missed a 53-yard kick in the second session after two holding penalties undid the Wildcats.
Led by Ehlinger’s bulldozing scramble over Kansas State defensive back Denzel Goolsby, Texas drove to the Wildcat 2 when its offense took the field in second overtime. On third down, Warren was handed the ball. The 250-pound back was met by a wall of Kansas State defenders. He, though, plowed into the end zone with the help of a handful of teammates.
— Danny Davis (@aasdanny) October 8, 2017
With the win, Texas improved to 2-0 against Big 12 opponents. UT will meet rival Oklahoma in Dallas next week.
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