MANHATTAN, Kan. — There were 140 snaps taken in Texas’ 24-21 loss to Kansas State on Saturday. Here are five that ended up making a big difference:
1. Early deficit (again)
Kansas State struck first on its homecoming as quarterback Jesse Ertz turned his second rushing attempt into a 6-yard touchdown. Ertz’s score capped a nine-play drive that saw Texas jump offside on three different snaps — the Wildcats declined one of those penalties in favor of a 31-yard catch — and get flagged for a defensive hold.
Texas has opened each of its seven games on defense, and six of those defensive starts were by design since the Longhorns won all but one of the coin tosses. But Texas has yielded touchdowns on four of those opening drives. Oklahoma almost scored on its first possession, but the Sooners missed a 49-yard field goal.
“Coach (Charlie) Strong likes to go play the defense first so he can get a stop and get that momentum going for our offense. He’s a defensive coach; that’s what he’s there for,” UT defensive back Dylan Haines said. “For some reason, we’re just not able to get it done. For some reason, as the game goes on, we start to hone in and get better. We’ve just got to find a way to go out there the first series, the first quarter of the game, and get a stop.”
2. Blink and he’s gone
Punter Michael Dickson made three appearances over Texas’ first three offensive series before freshman receiver Devin Duvernay provided the Longhorns with a pre-halftime spark. Trailing 14-0, Duvernay got free on the Texas sideline as Kansas State defenders bit on Shane Buechele’s pump fake on a quick screen. The result was an 80-yard touchdown catch.
That was Texas’ longest play of the season, breaking a mark that Duvernay had established with a 75-yard score in the previous week’s win over Iowa State. Duvernay has scored in three straight weeks, and those three touchdowns have covered 218 yards.
He pulled Texas within 14-7 with 4 minutes, 3 seconds to go in the first half. Kansas State responded with a nine-play drive that Ertz finished off with a touchdown pass with nine seconds remaining.
3. Fortunate fumble
One week after scoring 21 points in a third-quarter rally past Iowa State, Texas opened the second half with a three-and-out. Kansas State then put itself in position for a 21-point lead and a knockout punch.
But UT linebacker Anthony Wheeler played the role of hero, forcing a fumble as K-State running back Charles Jones neared the goal line on a first-down attempt from the Texas 6. Haines recovered the loose football, and a bullet-dodging Texas team recorded a touchback.
Texas went on to force two additional turnovers in the second half as linebacker Edwin Freeman intercepted a pass and recovered another fumble. But UT turned its three second-half turnovers into zero points.
4. Devastating drop
Still behind 21-7 after Wheeler’s forced fumble, Texas moved 54 yards in six plays before Buechele threw incomplete to Lorenzo Joe on third down. Facing a fourth-and-3 from the K-State 26 midway in the third quarter, Texas kept its offense on the field.
On the fourth-down attempt, Buechele threw a quick pass to junior Dorian Leonard. It would have gotten the Longhorns a first down — and potentially a touchdown — but Leonard dropped the routine catch.
Gifted the football, Kansas State put together a seven-play drive that was capped by Matthew McCrane ‘s 35-yard field goal.
5. Wide left
McCrane and Trent Domingue entered the weekend as the Big 12’s co-leaders in field goals, but Domingue could not match his counterpart. A 35-yard attempt by Domingue with 4:03 remaining sailed left on the Texas senior.
The three-point miss was Domingue’s fourth of the season, and the LSU transfer has also had four of his extra-point kicks blocked. Had Domingue hit his 10th field goal of the season, Texas would have pulled within 24-17 in a game it eventually lost by three points.
Domingue’s miss was preceded by Freeman’s fumble recovery at the Texas 47. The Longhorns marched to the K-State 9, but Texas lost 9 yards when Buechele was unable to handle a third-down snap by sophomore center Jake McMillon.