Football

Texas 19, Kansas State 14: After fourth straight win, ‘I think we know how to finish now’

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Story highlights
  • Texas DE Charles Omenihu: “When was the last time Texas was 4-1?”
  • Sam Ehlinger, Keaontay Ingram, Collin Johnson all make critical plays in the fourth quarter.
  • Longhorns called for 10 penalties for 104 yards, highest total since Maryland loss.

Posted September 29th, 2018

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger offered up all the proof anybody needs to know these Longhorns are different.

“The last four games, we’ve ended with the ball taking a knee,” Ehlinger said Saturday. “I think we know how to finish now. End the game on the field.”

Coach Tom Herman said a few weeks ago this club can’t play a C-plus type of game and still win. Yet that’s exactly what happened Saturday against scuffling Kansas State.

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The 18th-ranked Longhorns had 104 penalty yards and watched a 19-point lead start to melt away in the fourth quarter. But Ehlinger, Keaontay Ingram and Collin Johnson all made key plays in the final 10 minutes, and the defense stuffed K-State late to seal up a 19-14 win.

Once again, Texas (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) ended in victory formation. The Horns won for the first time at Bill Snyder Family Stadium since 2002 and now take a four-game winning streak — their longest since 2013 — into next week’s showdown against Oklahoma.

“When was the last time Texas was 4-1?” defensive lineman Charles Omenihu said. The correct answer is 2012. “Winning is fun, but winning is more fun when you continue it.”

The few hundred UT fans standing in the end zone afterward knew the time. “Beat OU! Beat OU!” they shouted. The noise that reverberated through the walls of the visitors’ locker room was unmistakable, too.

“To take nothing away from coach Snyder and the job that his team did, but we won ugly,” Herman said. “I think you can say we took another step.”

The slumping Wildcats (2-3, 0-2) wanted to scuffle in pre-game with UT tight end Andrew Beck, who was having none of it. When the game actually began, the Horns sucked the life out of the home team and the crowd of 49,916.

Texas’ first drive featured two overthrown deep balls, a misfire on a trick play and a block in the back by Beck, perhaps a tad worked up. K-State got stopped at its own 35-yard line on its first drive and punted to freshman D’Shawn Jamison.

The Houston Lamar product had five special teams touchdowns last year as a high school senior. He drifted back and caught a punt just above his left shoulder. K-State’s David Tullis couldn’t make the tackle, and Jamison got wide left. He turned on the jets and raced 90 yards for the fourth-longest punt return in UT history.

The Wildcats went 23 yards on their ensuing drive and punted again. Ehlinger’s had all sorts of troubles by rolling left and throwing across his body. Not this time, though. Ehlinger found Johnson tiptoeing down the sideline for a 21-yard gain on third-and-1.

The drive featured more razzle-dazzle as running back Tre Watson pulled up and threw back to Ehlinger for a 21-yard completion. If the ball had more air under it, Ehlinger would’ve scored. Instead, he did it the usual way by firing to Johnson from 4 yards out.

“What’s his stats? They might move him to receiver,” Johnson said of his quarterback, who actually finished with two catches for 24 yards. “He’s a playmaker. Great to see that today.”

K-State went backward again on its next drive. Omenihu had his best sequence as a Longhorn. On first-and-10 from the KSU 9, he came through almost untouched for a sack. Two plays later, he got Alex Delton’s knee down in the end zone for a safety. Texas suddenly led 16-0 and was rolling with with 12:56 left in the second quarter.

Cameron Dicker’s 28-yard field goal on UT’s ensuing possession made it a 19-point lead. Johnson’s 14-yard catch, Jerrod Heard’s 11-yarder and Devin Duvernay’s 13-yarder all negated a personal foul penalty by Zach Shackelford.

A 19-point lead in Manhattan? This had to seem unthinkable to all those Texas exes who’d seen way too much misery here before.

K-State’s only serious first-half scoring chance came just before the break. Snyder called time out with 2 seconds remaining as the offense faced fourth-and-goal at the 2. Delton came out and threw a catchable pass to Adam Harter, who just couldn’t haul it in.

The first-half numbers were lopsided on the stat sheet just like the scoreboard. Texas had 191 total yards as Ehlinger was 17 for 22. The penalties were an eye-sore, though. The Horns were flagged seven times in the first half for 80 yards — or 16 more yards than K-State had in total offense.

Herman has said he’s OK with aggressive penalties, like those amassed by Kris Boyd (facemask, pass interference) and Anthony Wheeler (holding). It’s the administrative ones that drive him crazy, like Ta’Quon Graham lining up offside. This team simply isn’t good enough to give away all those free yards.

The Horns finished with 10 penalties for 104 yards. It’s the second time this season Texas had double-digit penalties. The first time against Maryland ended in disaster.

Keep giving Snyder chances, and he’ll take advantage. The 78-year-old legend switched quarterbacks at halftime and that gave KSU life. The Wildcats opened the second half with a solid drive, helped along by one of Boyd’s penalties. Skylar Thompson dove for the pylon from seven yards out to get his team on the board.

Dicker missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, and K-State took over again with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.

Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu (90) tackles Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Thompson pieced together a methodical 16-play drive as KSU marched 70 yards. On the final play, a fourth-and-goal from the Texas 1, Alex Barnes took a direct snap and jumped over the line of scrimmage. The Horns’ 19-point lead was down to five, further magnifying Harter’s drop just before halftime.

The Longhorns kept their cool, though. Ingram had seven touches on the final two drives, Johnson had a critical 12-yard grab on third-and-10 and Ehlinger closed it out with a 12-yard run. “I think it shows our maturity to overcome the lull of what was going on,” Ehlinger said.

In summation, Ingram had just 68 yards on 10 carries. The offense finished with 111 rushing yards. Ehlinger completed 29 of 36 passes for 207 yards. He’s now thrown for 200 yards in all 11 career starts and crossed the 3,000-yard barrier for his career.

All of this happened without offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who had surgery on Thursday for a bacteria infection in his elbow. Herman said it was not life threatening, and Beck is expected to rejoin the team Sunday or Monday.

The Red River Showdown is one nobody wants to miss.

“It was a big win,” Johnson said, “but tomorrow we’re 0-0 and it’s time to go 1-0 again.”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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