K-State falls on last play in gut-wrencher against Texas

Quarterback Will Howard looks toward the end zone in the final play against Texas. Howard threw the ball as he fell to the ground and did not find a receiver, ending the game in a loss to Texas 33-30. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

A back-and-forth game unlike any other left No. 23 Kansas State football on the wrong side of chaos.

The Wildcats fell in an overtime thriller to No. 7 Texas 33-30 on a fourth down play to determine the result.

The game started about as bad as K-State could hope for. After forcing a Texas punt, the Wildcats found little success afterwards. Texas began their assault with quarterback Maalik Murphy connecting with wide receiver Adonai Mitchell for the opening touchdown.

The K-State offense continued to sputter, failing to succeed while relying on a heavy rushing attack. On the other hand, the Longhorns sent the lead to 17-0 with a 32-yard field goal after a dropped interception from VJ Payne and a 54-yard rushing touchdown from running back CJ Baxter.

This would not spell the end for the Wildcats. Murphy, playing for the injured Quinn Ewers, threw his first of two interceptions on the day to cornerback Jacob Parrish in Wildcat territory. The defense’s efforts to keep K-State in the game even resulted in a fourth-and-2 stop in K-State’s redzone.

Finally, a blocked punt by special team’s Shane Porter boosted the Wildcat offense. Quarterback Will Howard led a quick four-play drive with a touchdown to wide receiver Phillip Brooks to go down 17-7 at half.

The second half began with a Howard interception from a dropped pass and a Howard fumble. With a deficit peaking at 27-7, the Wildcats made their run.

Another Howard-to-Brooks touchdown with Brooks alluding defenders and tip-toeing across the sideline to put the game at 27-14. The struggling Murphy threw his second interception to Parrish, quickly allowing wide receiver Keagan Johnson to score a touchdown.

Once again, the defense stepped up. Defensive end Brendan Mott forced a fumble two plays later, recovered by cornerback Will Lee III. Howard found wide receiver Jayce Brown 32 yards down the seam to put the score 27-27.

With a chance at the lead, a botched snap on the extra point kept the Wildcats tied. After a Texas field goal and a missed field goal from the Wildcats, Howard used the last 1:18 to lead K-State to the 27-yard line where kicker Chris Tennant sent a 45-yard kick through the uprights, sending the game into overtime. 

That is where it went downhill.

A quick stop forced the Longhorns to go up 33-30, giving the K-State offense a chance at the win. After a connection from Howard to tight end Ben Sinnott, the Wildcats sat six yards away from the immeasurable upset.

K-State moved two yards on three plays and were left with fourth-and-4. Instead of going for the tie, head coach Chris Klieman sent the offense for an all-or-nothing play.

With no one open, Howard slung a pass while falling down for Texas to end the game. Howard’s 327 passing yards and four touchdowns were not enough as the Longhorns barely took home the victory.

With the loss, K-State moves to a 6-3 record and moves to 4-2 in the Big 12. With a trip to Arlington, Texas, seeming not as likely, K-State will probably need to win the remainder of its games for a chance. That starts next Saturday back in Manhattan against the Baylor Bears in a needed bounce-back win for Klieman and his team.