Taking down Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas – This was supposed to be a revenge game, a chance for Texas to get payback against K-State, the team whose fans rushed the field after last year’s stunning upset victory at Snyder Family Stadium.

Having the Wildcats on its home turf at Royal-Memorial Stadium, a venue that’s rarely gentle with opponents, the Longhorns expected to have a significant advantage.

They entered having won 30 of 32 games at home since Mack Brown took over as coach in 1998. K-State, meanwhile, had lost 46-straight games against top-10 teams on the road.

Not anymore.

Behind a stingy defense and an opportunistic special teams, K-State punctuated last year’s victory with a 41-21 triumph over Texas in front of 84,864 fans.

The Wildcats moved to 3-1 overall, while the Longhorns – or Wronghorns, as some folks in Texas are calling them – dropped their first Big 12 Conference opener in eight years.

“We’re not used to losing around here,” Brown said. “Especially not like that.”

Vegas sports books tabbed the game as a laugher, listing Texas as two touchdown favorites. Whether the Longhorns believed that is anybody’s guess, but it’s fair to question whether or not they took K-State as seriously as they should have.

“I think we surprised Texas today,” said running back James Johnson, whose 85-yard kick return TD gave K-State a 21-14 lead late in the first half. “I think they were looking past us because they have Oklahoma coming up.”

The Longhorns (4-1, 0-1 Big 12) trailed by 10 points at halftime but pulled within 24-21 with 8:07 left in the third quarter on Jamaal Charles’ 6-yard TD run.

It didn’t take K-State long to respond. Kicker Brooks Rossman’s 44-yard field goal extended the lead to six, and after forcing a 3-and-out, the Wildcats let their special teams go to work again.

Senior Jordy Nelson fielded a punt at the 11-yard line, bounced outside and sprinted past Texas defenders with blockers out in front. By the time he reached the end zone, K-State’s sideline already was celebrating.

“I’m about as stoic a person on the sideline on game day as possible, but the kicking game just excites me,” said Prince, who was seen dancing and stomping on the sideline earlier in the game. “I think that’s where the game gets fun.”

Not to be outdone by the special teams, K-State’s defense turned in perhaps its most impressive performance of the year. They chased quarterback Colt McCoy from the game momentarily in the first half after hitting him a number of times behind the line of scrimmage.

And when he returned in the third quarter, K-State kept bringing the pressure. McCoy was forced into a pair of second-half interceptions and finished with four overall.

His first interception came in the second quarter, when Ian Campbell intercepted a pass in the middle of the field and sprinted 41 yards, untouched, into the end zone.

By game’s end, K-State’s defense and special teams accounted for 27 of the team’s 41 points.

“We really wanted to try to build the team on special teams and defense,” Prince said. “Today, I felt for the first time since I’ve been here that we played well in both those phases at the same time.”

Nelson again led K-State offensively, catching 12 passes for 116 yards and a TD. He scored on the team’s opening possession, a 4-yard pass from quarterback Josh Freeman.

Though Freeman didn’t put up huge numbers, he was efficient. He completed 22 of 38 attempts for 177 yards.

“We’re just running the plays the coaches are calling,” Nelson said. “That’s all we’re doing out there. They’re putting us in good situations, and I think they’re anticipating what the defense is trying to do. They’re calling the right plays and things are working.”

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