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Texas 69, Kansas State 31: Longhorns administer a burnt orange beatdown in Manhattan

Running backs Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson ring up six rushing touchdowns as Texas releases some pressure

MANHATTAN, Kan. — It’s amazing how good Texas looks when there’s no pressure.

Having been eliminated from Big 12 title contention, the Longhorns came out Saturday and just demolished their opponent. The purple-and-white uniforms would indicate it was Kansas State on the wrong side of a 69-31 decision.

It was a rather historic burnt orange beatdown at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Longhorns scored on 11 of their 14 possessions and piled up the most points in coach Tom Herman’s four seasons. K-State hadn’t allowed that many points at home since 1984.

Does this change anything about Herman’s status? Perhaps only Urban Meyer truly knows. Texas administrators are content to wait for the white smoke from the Fox broadcaster’s chimney. For now, Herman is still guiding this battleship, choppy as the seas may be.

“Last week was last week. God presents a new day every day,” UT running back Bijan Robinson said. “How are you going to make that day count?”

Texas running back Bijan Robinson is pushed out of bounds by Kansas State defensive back Kiondre Thomas during their game at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Robinson, a freshman, scored the first three touchdowns of his career.

Robinson sure made Saturday count. He dazzled, rushing for 172 yards on nine carries and scoring three times, including once from 75 yards out. His 19.1 yards per carry average broke Gib Dawson’s school record (16.0) set in 1951. 

Not to be outdone, Roschon Johnson ran for 139 yards on 14 carries and scored three times himself. Texas had 608 total yards, averaging 10.1 yards per play.

“I think we came together and brought each other up,” Robinson said, sounding wiser than his years. “We still have a season to play. We’re still having fun as a team trying to finish off the season and then get ready for a new day.”

The Horns’ only disruption came when senior offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter suffered a gruesome dislocated left foot injury and fractured fibula with 7:18 left in the first half. Teammates helped load him onto the cart, and he threw up the “Hook ’em” hand sign while being whisked away.

Teammates gather around Texas offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter after an injury during the first half of the Longhorns' 69-31 win against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Dec. 5, 2020. (Orlin Wagner/The Associated Press)

The Horns missed a 30-yard field goal on that drive and went three-and-out on the next possession. 

But Texas (6-3, 5-3 Big 12) collected itself, steamrolled to the finish — even scoring 35 points in the third quarter alone — and cemented its fourth straight winning season. It’s the most points UT has scored since putting 70 on Colorado in the 2005 Big 12 title game.

Kerstetter was taken to the hospital and was back with the team before the game ended. 

“We were in total control. We were having fun. We had released all of the pressures off ourselves,” Herman said. That was before Kerstetter’s injury, which cast a pall over the sideline. 

At halftime, Herman said he told players that “Derek’s going to be OK. He would be so angry if he knew that we were playing like this because we were sad for him.”

Once the third quarter began, Texas put the hammer down. Robinson got wide right, dodged a tackle, kept his balance and went 75 yards to the house. Kansas State answered with Malik Knowles’ seven-yard touchdown pass. But D’Shawn Jamison took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards back to the K-State 1-yard line. That set up an easy Johnson score.

The Wildcats (4-6, 4-5) tried to match the Horns score for score but just couldn’t. Knowles caught a 29-yard touchdown on a crossing route when the Horns lost him in coverage. 

The only other K-State standout was running back Deuce Vaughn, an electric 5-5 menace from Round Rock. His father, Christopher, was a Texas assistant under Charlie Strong from 2014-16 and is now a scout for the Dallas Cowboys. Vaughn, a freshman, finished with 125 yards on 10 carries and scored twice.

“Quick, very quick,” defensive end Joseph Ossai said. “I’m just glad we finally figured out a way to try to get a hold of the run game, because I don't think anybody's done that to us for a long time.”

Vaughn was impressive, no question, but Texas just kept coming.

Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Kiondre Thomas stops Texas running back Bijan Robinson short of the end zone during the Longhorns' 69-31 win on Dec. 5, 2020 at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Scott Sewell-USA TODAY

Jordan Whittington scored his first touchdown as a Longhorn with a 15-yard run off a reverse. Cade Brewer punched one in from 15 yards out. And Malcolm Epps got wide open down the seam to haul in a 32-yard score.

Quarterback Sam Ehlinger finished the day 20-for-27 for 274 yards and two touchdowns. He gave way to backup Casey Thompson in the fourth quarter. The sophomore did not attempt a pass as Texas was trying to run some clock to escape the Flint Hills.

Blowouts like this tend to have lots of overlooked items. Freshmen Jerrin Thompson and David Gbenda both had their first career interceptions. Freshman Jake Majors got extended playing time at center, as did freshman Andrej Karic at left tackle.

The normal starting tackle, Samuel Cosmi, opted out after last week’s loss to Iowa State knocked Texas from out of the Big 12 race. So did safety Caden Sterns. There’s no telling what Cosmi was thinking after seeing Kerstetter’s foot folded so awkwardly. The injury was so unsettling, Fox did not show replays. Trainers threw a towel over Kerstetter’s foot to cover it up. 

“Let’s pray for a smooth full recovery!” Cosmi tweeted. 

Having Kerstetter back in the locker room afterward had to bring relief. The Horns got a huge win, and Herman beat back the mob wanting a coaching change — at least for one day. All that’s left is next week’s road trip against winless Kansas.

“We leaned on the older guys to tell the younger guys to ignore the noise,” Herman said. “They did a great job of it.”

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