The rain may have been plentiful down in Austin, Texas, but K-State’s offense seemed all dried out as Texas took advantage of its offensive ineptitude, beating the Wildcats 23-9.
Texas got on the board first after a promising drive was slowed in the red zone, forcing Longhorn kicker Nick Rose to kick a 28-yard field goal to put Texas up 3-0.
The Longhorns ran the ball every play on that first drive, a pattern that would serve them well as they racked up 274 yards rushing in the game compared to only 135 yards by K-State.
After a stalled Wildcat drive forced K-State sophomore punter Nick Walsh to punt for the second time in the half, the Longhorns – led by the quick legs of quarterback Jerrod Heard – made their way into their red zone again.
Backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes powered his way through into the end zone to give Texas a 10-0 lead.
Swoopes was dominant in the red zone, rushing for only 50 yards in the game but scoring all three of the Longhorns’ touchdowns.
It was nearly the same story on Texas’s next drive, as Longhorn running back Malcolm Brown broke free for a 46-yard run before being run out of bounds at the two-yard line.
Texas once again trotted their 6-foot-4-inch, 244-pound backup quarterback back out for his second touchdown of the half.
The Longhorns muffed the snap of their extra point but regained their special teams’ good fortune as they recovered a live ball off K-State on the kick-off to set up shop on the Wildcat 27-yard line.
The Wildcats defense helped its offense regain the ball as they stuffed Heard on a one-yard sneak on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.
K-State finally found the knack on offense and drove it all the way down with the help of a costly Longhorn pass interference penalty. The Wildcats got into the end zone, connecting on a seven-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Joe Hubener to freshman wide receiver Dominique Heath.
Hubener ended the game 10-22 for 97 yards and a touchdown along with 53 yards on the ground.
“We were very limited in what we were able to do today,” head coach Bill Snyder said of his team’s passing game. “It was an issue for both teams, but we have got to be better. Taking the weather out of it, we have to do better. We are capable of it and I have seen it; we just have to do it.”
They would be unsuccessful on the two point conversion, cutting the Texas lead to only 10.
The defense found their stride at the start of the first half, forcing the Longhorns into six consecutive punts to start off the half spanning through the third quarter and into the fourth.
“We played well on defense,” Snyder said. “A couple of young guys who hadn’t really been on the field played real well and sustained us. We gave up a few plays, but we played reasonably well. It was a team loss, and we had mistakes on offense and special teams that contributed to the loss as well.”
K-State capitalized after the second Texas punt as they drove down the field, led mostly by junior running back Charles Jones.
Jones had several moderate runs for under five yards before he broke off a 19-yard run, getting K-State down to the 24.
Jones would end up being the bright spot for the K-State offense, rushing for 122 yards in a career-high performance. It was a huge step up from last week where the Wildcats were held to only 65 yards rushing in the entire game.
“It wasn’t too much of a difference,” Jones said. “I just feel like we had a great week of practice. After what happened last weekend, we just had a lot of energy and hopes.”
The Wildcats would eventually be stood up at the 19, setting up senior kicker Jack Cantele for a 36-yard field goal to make it a one possession game.
After several more stops by the K-State defense, the Wildcats had a chance to tie it up with a little over four minutes left.
Senior backup quarterback Kody Cook, who was in for Hubener after he went down on the previous possession on a quarterback sneak, found senior wide receiver Andre Davis for a 10-yard pass.
Hubener returned on the next play and after throwing an incompletion to Cook, lofted an easy interception to Longhorn Dylan Haines.
Texas returned to their rushing ways as Swoopes found his way into the end zone on a 10-yard run for the third time in the game after two straight runs for over 10 yards before it.
K-State would get the ball once again with a minute and a half to try to perform a miracle, but it would not occur.
After the 23-9 loss, K-State dropped to 3-4 overall and 0-4 in the Big 12. It is the first time since 2001 that they’ve started off the season 0-4 against conference opponents.
“It is tough with any team with four straight losses,” Jones said. “I have never been a part of that but we are going to keep fighting, keep swinging, not keep our heads down, but just look to the next game, look to Baylor, and have a great week of practice.”
The Wildcats have next week off before welcoming No. 2 Baylor into Manhattan for a Thursday night matchup.
“It gives us more time to find out who are,” sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee said of the upcoming bye week. “We have this bye week and we can think about who we are and what we want to be. We need to have guys that are willing to stand up, take charge and say the past is the past and go win games.”