AUSTIN, Texas — Alex Delton gave the Kansas State offense a spark when he replaced a hobbled Jesse Ertz, whose health status had been in question throughout the week.
Delton guided K-State to a game-tying touchdown and go-ahead field goal in the second half, but his late lift couldn’t match what Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger did all night.
Ehlinger, a true freshman making his third start, shredded the K-State defense through the air and on the ground as the Longhorns had the last word in a back-and-forth battle with a 40-34 double-overtime victory Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Ehlinger completed 30 of 50 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns and ran 20 times for 107 yards for the Longhorns (3-2, 2-0 Big 12).
“That quarterback had a great game,” said K-State linebacker Trent Tanking. “He didn’t play like a freshman at all. He did a great job finding his guys. He hurt us with some quarterback scrambles and did a good job recognizing our coverage.”
Ertz didn’t play the final series of K-State’s victory over Baylor last week, but he was on the field at the start against Texas. He was effective throwing the ball but didn’t have his usual flare in the run game, and after stumbling on a run late in the third quarter he went to the sideline.
“He got banged up a little bit,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said.
In came Delton, who had one series under his belt this season to wrap up the Baylor game. The Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) trailed by seven points and had 28 rushing yards when Delton entered and he immediately ripped off runs of 16, 1 and 2 yards to reach the end zone to make it 24-24.
On the next series, Delton had runs of 13, 11 and 22 yards plus a 23-yard pass to Dalton Schoen that resulted in a 33-yard field goal by Matthew McCrane for a 27-24 lead with 12:19 to play.
“I get a lot of reps in practice and try to have that next-man-up mentality because that’s the reality,” Delton said. “I was ready and when my number was called I went out and executed the game plan.”
The Wildcats appeared they might prevail when Texas kicker Joshua Rowland missed a 27-yard field goal, but Rowland connected on a 34-yarder with 1:37 left to knot the score.
Ertz re-entered the game and threw an interception on a deep third-down ball that gave Texas the ball at its 33 with 32 seconds left. Ehlinger got the Horns in position, but Rowland missed a 45-yard attempt to send the game to overtime.
“We needed 30 yards to put ourselves in a position where we could attempt a field goal,” Snyder said of the Wildcats’ final possession. “That’s what I wanted to do, we just had some difficulty trying to do it, quite obviously. And then we end up running the ball out of bounds when we probably should have kept it inbounds, which would have reduced the clock considerably.”
Texas needed only one play in the first OT to score when Ehlinger hit Jerrod Heard with a 25-yard pass, but K-State answered on Delton’s 8-yard TD run set up by a 20-yard run from Alex Barnes.
McCrane — who matched his career-best with a 54-yard field goal in the first quarter and also hit from 33 — set up from 53 yards in the second OT but the ball bounced away off the left upright.
The Longhorns put it away on a 2-yard touchdown run by Chris Warren, who appeared stopped short of the goal line but was pushed across by his offensive line.
“We knew they had a chip-shot field goal so we were going for the turnover and strip,” said Wildcat safety Kendall Adams. “Their line pushed him forward and he eventually got in there. It was a frustrating play.”
Delton finished with 79 rushing yards on 12 carries. Ertz completed 12 of 18 passes for 224 yards but netted only four rushing yards on nine carries. Schoen caught both of Ertz’s TD passes covering 84 and 12 yards, finishing with five receptions for 128 yards.
“We had a good plan for these guys,” Delton said. “They are a very talented team that is fast and physical and big. I felt confident in our game plan and we had a good week of preparation. We knew they were a tough defense but we just came out on the short end.”
K-State (3-2, 1-1) 3 14 7 3 7 0 — 34
Texas (3-2, 2-0) 0 21 3 3 7 6 — 40
KSU – McCrane 54 field goal, 7:19. Drive: 8 plays, 34 yards, 4:23 time of possession.
KSU – Schoen 82 pass from Ertz (McCrane kick), 14:01. Drive: 4-97, 2:17.
UT – Porter 1 run (Rowland kick), 9:33. Drive: 12-71, 4:21.
KSU – Schoen 12 pass from Ertz (McCrane kick), 6:29. Drive: 7-75, 3:04.
UT – Warren 33 pass from Ehlinger (Rowland kick), 3:23. Drive: 6-78, 2:58.
UT – Porter 1 run (Rowland kick), 0:16. Drive: 7-50, 1:49.
UT – Rowland 34 field goal, 10:15. Driv: 8-56, 2:48.
KSU – Delton 2 run McCrane kick), 3:37. Drive: 6-34, 3:07.
KSU – McCrane 33 field goal, 12:19. Drive: 10-74, 5:15.
UT – Rowland 34 field goal, 1:37. Drive: 12-52, 2:24.
UT – Heard 25 pass from Ehlinger (Rowland kick). Drive: 1-25.
KSU – Delton 8 run (McCrane kick). Drive: 3-25.
UT – Warren 2 run. Drive: 5-25.
GAME IN FIGURES
First downs 16 32
Rushes-yards 39-140 40-166
Passing 254 380
Comp-Att-Int 14-23-1 30-51-1
Return Yards 55 108
Punts-Avg. 5-43.6 3-48.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 7-70 3-30
Time of Possession 28:13 31:47
RUSHING — Kansas St., Delton 12-79, Barnes 13-57, Silmon 3-4, Ertz 9-4, (Team) 2-(minus 4). Texas, Ehlinger 20-107, Carter 6-32, Warren 7-14, Porter 7-13.
PASSING — Kansas St., Ertz 12-18-1-224, Delton 2-5-0-30. Texas, Ehlinger 30-50-1-380, (Team) 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Kansas St., Schoen 5-128, Heath 3-55, Zuber 3-19, Pringle 1-28, Dimel 1-13, Barnes 1-11. Texas, Hemphill-Mapps 12-121, C.Johnson 7-92, Humphrey 4-60, Heard 4-50, Leonard 2-24, Warren 1-33.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — Kansas St., McCrane 53. Texas, Rowland 27, Rowland 45.
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.