They don’t give out a trophy for beating all five of Texas’ major college football programs.
A Texas Bowl Champions trophy will be sufficient, however.
Led by game MVP Jesse Ertz, Kansas State knocked off Texas A&M, 33-28, in Wednesday night’s Advocare V100 Texas Bowl to finish its season 9-4.
“This team epitomized what this program is about — daily improvement,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said.
In contrast to most of the Wildcats’ recent bowl game appearances, this contest was closely contested throughout. K-State fell behind 7-0 on the Aggies’ opening possession before rallying to take the lead in the second quarter. The biggest lead for either team came when the Wildcats took a 33-21 lead with nine minutes to play.
Ertz was the catalyst of his team’s offense. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 67 yards and two more scores.
“He’s a competitive young guy, and the numbers speak for themselves,” Snyder said. “He played a nice game. I was proud of him.”
The K-State defense had its breakdowns, but played well overall after A&M’s early score. Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight threw an interception and lost a fumble as part of his 310-yard, three-touchdown performance.
Justin Silmon led K-State in rushing with 77 yards on just 10 carries. Alex Barnes was held out of the game due to injury concerns, but that didn’t stop the Wildcats from topping 200 yards on the ground for a seventh-straight game.
After Ertz’ 1-yard score to give K-State a 33-21 lead, Texas A&M (8-5) looked prepared to mount a comeback, easily driving for a score to make it 33-28.
After a Wildcat punt, the Aggies drove inside the K-State 20 with less than three minutes to play. But the Wildcats’ pass rush, which was solid all night, forced an incompletion on 4th and 8 to all but lock up the program’s second bowl victory since 2002.
The biggest play of the game, in terms of yardage and the shifting of momentum, came with 4:52 left in the first quarter. Ertz found Bryon Pringle down the field for a 79-yard, game-tying touchdown. It was the second connection from Ertz to Pringle for at least 79 yards in as many games.
“That play was awfully significant, and that ball couldn’t have been thrown any better,” Snyder said. “Ertz and Byron executed that scheme extremely well.”
Jordan Willis recorded a sack to finish with 12.5 on the season, setting a new school record. Not to be outdone, Ertz topped 1,000 yards rushing for the year.
K-State completed its campaign winning six of its final seven games after a 3-3 start. Among its nine wins are five against the state of Texas’ five teams from Power 5 conferences. The Wildcats are the first team to knock off Texas and Texas A&M in the same season since doing so in 2011.
The Wildcats also put the Big 12 on notice with its performance down the stretch of the season. K-State is set to return 17 starters when the 2017 season begins next September.
Snyder isn’t ready to declare his next team a contender, however.
“Every year has a new dynamic, no matter who is coming back. It’s just not that simple. Those guys have to make it happen.”
Filed in: Postgame Wrap up