Wheels come off for Texas late, Wildcats capture Big 12 title with win

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By Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Magazine Editor
Posted Dec 1, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Jaxon Shipley

MANHATTAN - The purple Kansas State faithful said goodbye to Collin Klein Saturday night in Manhattan. From the Texas Longhorns' perspective, good riddance might be a much more fitting send-off. Klein tormented the Longhorns once again, taking advantage of a mistake-riddled fourth quarter performance from Texas to guide his team to an ultimately decisive win, 42-24, and a Big 12 championship.

After three quarters of trading blows with the Wildcats, the Longhorns disintegrated in the fourth period, with two turnovers and a missed field goal by Nick Jordan. The miscues proved fatal against the Klein, who scored on a pair of touchdown runs and also drove the nail into the Longhorns' hearts with a 55-yard strike to Tyler Locket with 14:06 remaining, a touchdown shot that turned a 21-17 nailbiter into a 28-17 advantage that felt like more than just 11 points.

Texas coach Mack Brown spoke to the press in a make-shift, outdoor screening area as the Wildcats' championship celebration continued well after the final gun sounded. He quickly got to the heart of the matter.

"I think we understand why Collin Klein is up for the Heisman," said Brown of Klein, who rushed for 108 yards and threw for 184 more. "He had to make a perfect throw after a turnover (to Lockett), and that's exactly what he did. And you can't turn the ball over twice in the fourth quarter and miss a field goal against a good team and expect to win. I'm proud of the effort our guys put out. I thought they did exactly what we asked them to do, get us to the fourth quarter with a chance to win. We will leave tomorrow, learn where we are playing, and we will regroup and get ready to work."

After Lockett's score - in which he was running free through the Texas secondary - the Longhorns' ship sunk even deeper. Quandre Diggs' fumbled punt return resulted in a John Hubert one-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 35-17 with 4:42 remaining, and that was followed by a Case McCoy interception - the last of two he threw on this night, and two plays later Klein was rushing for the final touchdown.

By then the raucous crowd was chanting, "We own Texas!" and "BCS!" When the game ended, the field was rushed by a crowd that was literally making the Manhattan ground shake. The better team won.

The game started innocently enough, with Texas and Kansas State trading a couple of three-and-outs. But on Texas' second possession of the game, the temperature in Manhattan rose considerably when McCoy decided he wanted to hit Jaxon Shipley on an out-route near the Wildcats' sideline.

Unfortunately for McCoy - and for Brown's blood pressure - Kansas State cornerback Nigel Malone calculated the toss perfectly, intercepting the pass on the run and sprinted into the end zone for an apparent 30-yard return for a touchdown. But while Malone absolutely sprinted in the end zone, he dropped the ball in a hasty celebration about a foot from the goal line, and the ball tumbled in the end zone.

The play was ruled a touchdown on the field, but was properly reviewed. After a lengthy review that was littered with occasional booing from the home crowd, officials said they had "inadvertently" signaled touchdown on the play when Malone dropped the ball, adding that by rule the ball must be placed at the Texas half-yard line and given to the Wildcats.

Whereby Mack Brown's head exploded - to no avail - and Klein scored yet another touchdown on a one-yard run, and the Wildcats had the first lead of the game at 7-0.

But instead of the game going south, Oklahoma-style, the Longhorns drove to the Kansas State 44 yard-line, thanks to eight short McCoy completions, and though they didn't score they did weather what could very well have been a Wildcat storm.

Klein responded, of course, by directing a long drive of his own, but then made a rare and costly mistake in his last game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Facing a 3rd and 6 at the Texas 18, he threw a ball poorly over the middle into coverage, and Adrian Phillips picked it off in the end zone early in the second quarter.

Texas struck immediately, with McCoy connecting on a shovel pass with Daje Johnson, who was somehow caught from behind but not before stepping off 70 yards to the Kansas State 10 yard-line. The Longhorns stalled, but Nick Jordan popped a 37-yard field goal through the uprights, and Texas trailed 7-3 with a dozen minutes left in the half.

The Texas offense then showed exactly why fans have such high expectations for the unit in a series of huge-chunk plays to take the lead. McCoy hit Shipley on a 19-yard strike over the middle for a first down. Malcolm Brown followed on the next play with a 27-yard run, and McCoy slipped a pass to Johnson for another six yards. Johnathan Gray added nine yards, and the drive was capped when McCoy squeezed a low strike to Jaxon in the end zone for 14 yards, giving Texas a 10-7 lead with 7:19 remaining in the half.

After holding Kansas State's ensuing drive, McCoy drove the Longhorns to the Kansas State 24 yard-line, completing four straight passes (giving him 17 consecutive completions at one point), because an incompletion and an intentional grounding penalty doomed any further chance for a Texas score. Jordan lined up for a last-ditch 51-yard field goal try, but Texas resorted instead to a fake field goal pass from Cade McCrary that was incomplete.

Even still, Texas held the momentum at halftime, but things turned quickly in the second half that saw the Wildcats score 35 points. Klein's offense opened the second half with a seven-play, 75-yard drive sparked by an old school jump pass from Klein to tight end Travis Tannahill, a 29-yard gainer that set up a two-yard Hubert score with 10:59 left to play in the third quarter.

Once again, though, McCoy and the Horns responded, and in electric fashion. A McCoy-to-Gray hookup for 30 was followed b y a 10-yard Cayleb Jones run on a reverse. And yet another reverse - this one a 46-yard slash by D.J. Monroe - put the ball at the K-State 4 yard-line. Three Brown runs from there resulted in a score, capping a 7-play, 90-yard drive, giving Texas its last lead of the night at 17-14.

But alas, Klein is Klein. He answered by driving his team methodically but effectively down the field, culminating in Hubert's 2-yard score with :47 left in the third period. The drive was pure Bill Snyder/Klein: 11 plays, 67 yards and 6:37 off the clock.

Statistics? McCoy was 26 of 34 for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with his picks. Brown was especially impressive with seven carries for 40 yards and a score and six receptions for 43 yards and a score. Gray was surprisingly ineffective with 12 carries for 29 yards.

And when asked about throwing a pair of interceptions on out-routes, McCoy tersely replied, "I've been throwing that route since I was three years old."

Kenny Vacarro - who had 12 tackles in the game, all solo - also said something after the game that should probably be heard, as it pertains to the state of the Texas and Kansas State programs: "I'm sorry as seniors that we didn't get it back for Texas the way we wanted. They (KSU) have a lot bigger senior class, they have a lot more help."

And then there was Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz - always handy with a quote - who insisted on emphasizing how his defense, which played at least winning-level football in the first half, could learn from the humbling experience of losing to the Wildcats.

"I'm proud of how the players played in this game," Diaz said. "Maybe the best way we can learn is look at those guys out on the field celebrating winning a championship. Our goal needs to be having those fireworks over Austin."

Instead, it will once again be Texas spending the next few weeks preparing for a less-than-BCS bowl and wondering who will be the team's quarterback for said bowl game. Just like last season.

 

 

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