A fourth-quarter rally came up just short for the 13th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats as they fell 34-27 to Texas at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday night.
A 21-point halftime deficit proved to be too much for the Wildcats to overcome, as Adrian Martinez was sacked and lost a fumble with 0:24 seconds left to play to bring an end to K-State’s final drive.
The visiting Longhorns marched up and down the field on the Wildcat defense to the tune of 352 yards, 8.6 yards per play, and 31 points in the first half. Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson had touchdown runs for Texas in the first quarter, and Xavier Worthy caught a pair of second quarter touchdown passes from Quinn Ewers. The second of Worthy’s touchdowns came after Martinez, making the start after missing last week’s game due to injury, threw his first interception of the season inside of two minutes left in the half, setting up a short field for the Longhorns to score and take a 31-10 lead into the locker room.
“We struggled to get stops and didn’t tackle very well,” said Widlcats head coach Chris Klieman after the game. “They have talented guys, give them credit. Our guys stayed in the fight and it showed a lot of character and resolve.”
K-State’s defense stiffened in the second half, allowing the Wildcats offense to rally. After a forced fumble by Josh Hayes was recovered by Eli Huggins in Texas territory, Martinez ran for a one-yard touchdown with 8:37 left in the third. Martinez would find Kade Warner on a 25-yard pass for a score with the first play of the fourth quarter to get the Cats within 31-24.
Texas responded with a field goal on their very next drive to push the lead back to ten points, but the Cats roared back with a lengthy drive that produced three points of their own. Ty Zentner’s second field goal of the night, a 28-yarder, cut the deficit to 34-27, and after the K-State defense forced a three-and-out, the Wildcats got the ball back with 2:43 left at their own 19 yard line. They advanced to the Texas 43 yard line before Keondre Coburn sacked Martinez and knocked the ball free. The loose ball rolled ten yards downfield, right to Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford, who covered it to secure the win.
K-State ended up out-gaining Texas on the night, 468 to 466. Martinez was 24-of-36 passing for 329 yards with two TDs and the interception, and also rushed for 66 yards on 14 carries. Deuce Vaughn was limited to 74 yards on 19 carries but caught seven passes for 86 yards. For Texas, Robinson rushed for 216 yards on 30 carries, averaging seven yards per rush. Ewers was 18-for-31 through the air for 197 yards and two TDs.
“I’m proud of our guys and the resolve we showed,” Klieman said after the game.
The Wildcats drop to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 play. They no longer control their own destiny in the Big 12 race as they drop into a three-way tie for second place and a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Texas and Baylor are also 4-2 in the league, with the Bears hosting K-State next Saturday night in Waco. Kickoff will be at 6:00 and the game will air on either FOX or FS1.