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September 22, 2013

Wildcats trip over struggling Longhorns

AUSTIN, Texas -- Heading into Saturday's game with Kansas State, the Texas Longhorns were filled with self doubt and backed by a nervous fan base that feared a disappointing season was in its early stages. Following the Longhorns 31-21 victory over the Wildcats at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, K-State not only returns home with a loss, but likely takes with it the pregame woes that plagued Texas before the game started.

"Our execution wasn't good," said K-State coach Bill Snyder, who also questioned his team's internal leadership. "We got penalties and we turned it over. You can't beat good football teams getting penalized and turning it over. It's not more complicated than that."

K-State was penalized eight times in for 65 yards and three second-half fumbles proved disastrous for the Wildcats, but the two that came after the Wildcats cut the score to 31-21 with 7 minutes remaining derailed a potential stunning rally.

Those two fumbles came when quarterback Jake Waters let the ball slip out of his hand on a running play and when Waters was sacked in the final seconds. Both turnovers came in the final three minutes of the game.

"We weren't running the ball like we should have and we dropped the ball when we shouldn't have," senior receiver Tramaine Thompson said. "We made some mistakes down the line. I made one. We just didn't make enough plays down the stretch to win."

Texas came into this game with a 1-2 record after being gashed by the running games of BYU and Ole Miss, and the air in Austin was filled with calls for Mack Brown to step aside as UT's coach.

A shoddy defensive performance by the Wildcats -- K-State gave up 452 yards to the Longhorns, -- and a hard-to-define offensive outing left little doubt that despite their own issues, the Longhorns were a far superior team to the Wildcats, which fell to 2-2 with the defeat.

"We wanted to be able to run it. We wanted to be able to throw it," Snyder said. "Sometimes we were successful, sometimes we weren't."

K-State amassed 390 total yards, but only 115 came on the ground against a Texas team surrendering an average of more than 300 rushing yards a contest.

Backup quarterback Daniel Sams ran right times for 48 yards, running back John Hubert 12 times for 41 yards and Waters 18 times (four of which were sacks for negative-20 yards) for 26 yards. Waters completed 19 of 30 passes for 275 yards, and junior Tyler Lockett caught 13 passes for a school single-game record of 237 yards.

Life in the Big 12 will not get any easier for the Wildcats. Following an off week, the Wildcats will travel to Oklahoma State, the conference's preseason favorite, and then come home to play Baylor, which has scored 69 or 70 points in each of its three non-conference games this season.

K-State trailed 17-7 at halftime, and faced a golden opportunity to climb right back into the contest after receiving the second half kickoff, but the Wildcats squandered their opening possession when Hubert fumbled an option pitch, and then watched as the Texas offense cut right through the K-State defense with a 56-yard touchdown drive that ended with Jonathan Gray rushing 15 yards to the end zone to put Texas up 24-7.

Throughout the first half, K-State shuffled its quarterbacks between junior Waters and sophomore Sams, but the Shake & Jake show had little success as Sams was predictable as a run-only quarterback and Waters often was used only in obvious passing situations.

"We were just trying to find a way to get some spark into our offense," Lockett said. "Everybody tries different things and this time, it just didn't work out in our favor."

By the second half, it was Waters under center full time and he led the Wildcats on a 14-play, 72-yard drive that bridged the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. After a nifty 13-yard shovel pass from Waters to Hubert converted a third-and-11 from the UT 17, Hubert then ran in from four yards out. With 13:22 remaining, K-State now trailed 24-14.

The problem for the Wildcats was the touchdown meant their beleaguered defense was forced to go right back on the field and Texas cruised 66 yards in 11 plays to score another touchdown and build the lead to 31-14.

It continued a trend of long Texas drives that started in the first quarter.

K-State's defense held Texas out of the end zone after the Longhorns took over at their own 16, quarterback David Ash directed UT on a long drive that stalled inside the K-State 10 and ended with an Anthony Fera 27-yard field goal to put the Longhorns up 3-0 with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.

Texas struck quickly four minutes later when Ash found Kendall Sanders deep down the middle of the field for a 63-yard touchdown pass to give UT a 10-0 cushion late in the first quarter.

Texas created even more operating room late in the first half when Gray covered 21 yards to cap an 11-play, 76-yard drive that put Texas up 17-0 with 3:02 remaining in the first half.

K-State finally got on the board when Waters directed the Wildcats on a quick four-play, 82-yard drive that John Hubert finished with a 15-yard run into the end zone to keep K-State in contention at 17-7 with 1:01 remaining in the half.

The Longhorns dominated the first half on the scoreboard and in the stats, too. UT racked up an impressive 295 yards of offense in the first half (compared to 183 for K-State), and converted 6 of 11 third downs, perpetuating an ongoing problem for the K-State defense.

K-State takes a week off, but then goes right back on the road as it must face Oklahoma State on Oct. 5. The kickoff time for the game is expected to be announced on Monday.

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