AUSTIN — Texas should have known better.
After shocking the college football world a few weeks ago by unexpectedly beating their biggest rival in the Red River Rivalry, the Longhorns did not appear to take Kansas seriously, especially early. The lack of intensity did not cause Texas to ever be truly threatened by the Big 12’s cellar dwellers, but it did not leave the Longhorns feeling particularly excited about their 22-point victory.
Texas head coach Mack Brown said “disappointed” multiple times during his postgame news conference when referring to his team’s early showing, but in the end, he could not argue with the results.
Despite a lackluster performance, the Longhorns emerged from the 35-13 win in sole possession of first place in the conference standings over idle Baylor, while extending their current winning streak to five games and becoming bowl eligible.
“We’re leading the league,” Brown said. “The objective was to get a W. When you can win and have a lot of things to fix, I think it’s wonderful. Better than last year’s Kansas game, too.”
Just like it did in Dallas, however, Texas (6-2, 5-0) gained the upper hand on a touchdown from defensive tackle Chris Whaley, whose 40-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown gave the Longhorns a two-score lead with 6:25 remaining in the third quarter.
Following a slow start, Kansas connected on field goals to end the second quarter and begin the third quarter, creating a one-possession game, trailing 14-6.
Momentum finally turned in the Longhorns’ direction when Cedric Reed sacked Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps, jarring the ball loose for Whaley to scoop it up and take it into the end zone. Against the Sooners, Whaley’s 31-yard interception return for a touchdown unleashed an avalanche of offense for Texas en route to a stunning 36-20 win against then-No. 12 Oklahoma.
“I just saw the way the guys rallied around and how everybody walked up with a lot of momentum,” said Whaley, who became the first Texas lineman to score multiple touchdowns in recorded school history. “Then offense came right after that and they scored. Everyone had a lot of momentum and it changed everything about the game.”
The remainder of the Longhorns’ points was generated by running back Malcolm Brown.The junior finished with 119 yard and four touchdowns on 20 carries.
Brown scored on runs 2, 3, 1 and 30 yards, giving him more rushing yards on touchdowns than the Jayhawks produced in the entire first half (34).
“That is the type of runner I want to be and these coaches (want me to be),” Brown said. “They want guys that are tough, like the contact, and are not backing away from it. That is something I have taken pride in this past year being a short-yardage guy and goal line guy.”
The Longhorns jumped out to 14-0 advantage, but did not score their first points until 41 seconds into the second quarter, when Brown completed a 15-play, 92-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. With 2 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the second quarter, he struck again, scoring on a 3-yard run before Ron Doherty connected on a 21-yard field goal as time expired, and Texas led 14-3 entering halftime.
Doherty’s 27-yard field goal early in the third quarter pulled the Jayhawks within eight points, 14-6, but Whaley’s touchdown created enough cushion to lift the Longhorns to victory as Kansas (2-6, 0-5) was held scoreless until Montell Cozart’s 20-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes remaining established the final score.
“Really the secondary has been outstanding, and up front they’ve done well,” Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. “Most of the time those linebackers do pretty well. I don’t know who their coach is, but he might have got it right.”
Texas finished with 418 yards of offense, including 221 rushing with Johnathan Gray complimenting Brown’s performance by running for 68 yards on 18 carries. Case McCoy started his fourth consecutive game at quarterback in place of former Belton standout David Ash, who is still suffering from the effects of a head injury.
McCoy completed 20 of 29 passes for 196 yards and threw a pair of interceptions before freshman Tyrone Swoopes, who had his redshirt removed last week, got in the game. Swoopes was 1-of-3 passing for 1 yard and ran twice for 20 yards, including an 18-yard run.
“I thought Case did a good job of not getting frustrated when he had the turnovers that he had,” Brown said. “He did a good job of leading the team in the second half when things weren’t going really well.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org