Wildcats fail 21-point comeback on final drive

Defensive end Brendan Mott tackles the ball carrier during the University of Texas football game on Nov. 5. (Julia Smith | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: The archive photo originally used as the featured photo from the Texas game on December 5, 2020, was replaced by a photo taken at the game on Nov. 5 by Julia Smith. The archive photo originally used can be found at the end of the article.

Kansas State football fell to the Texas Longhorns in a 34-27 shootout on Saturday. The Longhorns held a 21-point lead into the second half as the Wildcats clawed back to a one-possession game, with a chance to tie late in the fourth quarter.

In his return, quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for 329 yards and scored three total touchdowns while committing two turnovers. The Longhorns specialized on the ground, with running back Bijan Robinson finishing with 209 rushing yards.

“We were struggling to get him down but probably our biggest issue was communication,” nose guard Eli Huggins said.

Scoring came fast and often in the early game — the first five drives featured a score. Robinson started the avalanche with a 36-yard touchdown run on a drive which included cornerback Julius Brents’ ejection off a targeting penalty. Martinez followed up with a 28-yard touchdown pass to running back Deuce Vaughn.

The scoring ended after a failed fourth down conversion attempt by the Wildcats in Longhorn territory down 21-10. Texas seemed to convert their own fourth down on the next drive, but cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe forced Texas running back Roschon Johnson to fumble with a recovery from cornerback Jacob Parrish.

This didn’t stop the Longhorns as they went on to secure a field goal. They ended the half with a touchdown following an interception from Martinez. The Longhorns held a 31-10 lead at half with over 206 yards rushing on 19 carries and 146 passing yards from quarterback Quinn Ewers.

Although the Wildcat offense was shut down again coming out of the half, the defense stepped up. Safety Josh Hayes forced the team’s second fumble with a recovery from Huggins. The recovery led to a Martinez run touchdown to go up 31-17.

The defense continued to hold the Longhorn offense in the third quarter. On the first play in the fourth, Martinez threw a 25-yard touchdown to wide receiver Kade Warner, bringing the once 31-10 lead to 31-24.

After a field goal from each team, the Wildcats found themselves still down seven with the ball on their own 19-yard line with 2:43 remaining. Driving down the field, Texas defensive lineman Keondre Coburn forced a Martinez fumble, securing Texas the win.

“Obviously you had an expectation going into the game to win,” Martinez said. “We’re going to shoulder this one and move forward.”

The Wildcats fall to a 6-3 record with a 4-2 record in the Big 12. Next up for K-State is the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas on Nov. 12.

“Took us a while to make our adjustments but proud of our guys, the resolve we showed. We are a team of high character guys,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “Great leadership within that room to give us a chance to have the football with under two minutes left to have a chance to tie after how the first half went is a credit to our guys.”

Then-freshman running back Deuce Vaughn runs the ball during the game on December 5, 2020 game against Texas. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)