- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas' last five losses to Kansas State typically had been decided by turnovers and fourth-quarter mistakes. This time, the Wildcats were the ones making those miscues. This time, Texas capitalized.
After reviewing the Longhorns' 31-21 win over K-State on Saturday, here's a look back at five plays that helped decide the game and end the five-game losing streak.
1. Sams to the sidelines
Daniel Sams had some early success stressing Texas' run defense, but for some reason he disappeared midway through the second quarter. On his final carry of the night, he rushed up the middle on a delay draw on second and 15. He gained five yards but wound up at the bottom of a pile under at least five Texas defenders and a few Kansas State linemen.
Did he get hurt? Bill Snyder doesn't divulge injury information, but that was the assumption Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson made. He thought Sams might've tweaked something on that rush. The TV broadcast proves inconclusive on this issue.
Whatever the reason, Sams didn't come back. Would he have changed the game had he stayed in? It's possible, but Texas had stopped him for no gain on his previous two carries, and he didn't attempt a single pass on the night. It's entirely possible that once Texas went ahead 24-7, KSU would've abandoned Sams and went with Jake Waters as its best bet to come back. We'll never know. But taking Sams out of the equation made life a little easier for Texas' defense, even if the plays he ran were predictable.
2. A key conversion
Mack Brown pointed out after the game that going ahead 17-0 late in the second quarter was huge for his team's momentum. He's right, and don't forget how Texas got there. After David Ash scrambled for eight yards on third and 10, Texas went with a surprising look on fourth down.
Instead of lining up in a power set, the Longhorns went four wide with Joe Bergeron lined up next to Ash. Presumably, a dive play was coming for Texas' short-yardage back. Instead, he motioned out of the backfield, a savvy move by the coaching staff to get K-State's middle linebacker to follow and cover him.
With the middle of the field wide open, Ash hit Jaxon Shipley on a quick slant for 10 yards to get to the 26. Two plays later, Johnathan Gray scored from 21 yards out. Getting aggressive on fourth down paid off big.
3. Ash leaves early
There's no easy way to pinpoint what went wrong here. We know very little about what happened to Ash on Saturday night or whether a specific play or hit caused his concussion-related symptoms to return. All we know is Brown is hopeful the issues are not serious.
But with 14 seconds left in the first half, Texas called a timeout. Ash was obviously wincing as he walked to the sideline. He took a sip of water and kept wincing and blinking. Then he went back on the field and threw incomplete on fourth down while trying his best to avoid being hit. He walked off the field with his head down, and his night was over.
To their credit, the Longhorns found a way to survive without him in the second half. But we won't know how important this moment was until we know how Ash is doing these days.
4. De La Torre's dash
You don't win games like this without seizing moments. The Longhorns scooped up a John Hubert fumble to open the second half but then faced a fourth down near midfield. They lined up in a punt safe formation, and fans started booing, which they would regret.
Two blockers lined up in front of Fera to protect him. One is lineman Garrett Porter, who snuck up to the line before the snap. The other is fullback Alex De La Torre, who took a direct snap and dashed downfield. Thanks to big blocks from Porter, Chet Moss and defensive backs Sheroid Evans and Leroy Scott, DLT picked up 19 to the KSU 29. Four more Johnathan Gray carries and Texas leads 24-7.
5. The fumble
I guess we're calling this a butt fumble, right? Jake Waters was about to put Texas in the danger zone. K-State was down 10 with a little more than two minutes left and was 7 yards from the end zone. KSU also had three timeouts left, in case its onside kick failed. If Texas allowed the score, it would be an interesting ballgame.
But Waters, on a delay power run right, stumbled behind lineman Cody Whitehair. The ball slipped out of his grasp when his right arm grazed Whitehair's behind. Dalton Santos quickly hit Waters and pounced on the fumble. He went crazy, as he is prone to doing, and Texas went to 2-2.