The K-State Wildcats rocketed to a Texas-sized victory Wednesday night at NRG Stadium in Houston. The team that kicked off the first ever Texas Bowl, and the first decade of the game back in 2006 with a loss to Rutgers, got the second decade of the bowl started with a thrilling win.
Jesse Ertz threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and ran for two more scores, as the Wildcats won a 33-28 victory over Texas A&M.
Ertz had a 79-yard touchdown pass and scoring runs of 1 and 5 yards to help give Kansas State its fourth straight win and first bowl victory since the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
The Wildcats led by five when Ertz bulled into the end zone on a 1-yard run that made it 33-21 with nine minutes left. Ertz set up the score with a 20-yard run two plays earlier.
The Aggies cut it to 33-28 on Josh Reynolds’ 15-yard TD reception about a minute later.
Texas A&M attempted to convert a fourth-and-8 with about two minutes left, but Trevor Knight’s pass was short. It set off a wild celebration in the stands, and gave Kansas State the ball back. The Wildcats then ran out the clock and claimed the Texas Bowl Trophy.
Reynolds had a Texas A&M bowl-record 12 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Knight threw for 310 yards with three touchdowns and one interception as A&M dropped its second straight bowl game.
Kansas State did a good job of neutralizing Texas A&M star defensive end Myles Garrett. The junior, who is expected to declare for the draft and many believe could be the top overall pick in April, blocked an extra point in the second quarter. But he was unable to do much else while facing near-constant double teams and he finished with one tackle.
Texas A&M got to 23-21 when Reynolds made a 4-yard touchdown catch with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. A 25-yard field goal by Ian Patterson extended Kansas State’s lead to 26-21 with about three minutes remaining in the quarter. A highlight of that drive came on a 36-yard run John Silmon.
The Aggies took a quick 7-0 lead, marching down the field. The opening drive of the game ended with Keith Ford scoring on a 7-yard run.
Kansas State tied it when Ertz connected with Byron Pringle and he dashed down the field for a 79-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter.
The Wildcats took the lead when Ertz stiff-armed Justin Evans on a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. But Garrett blocked the extra point to make it 13-7.
A 3-yard reception by Ricky Seals-Jones put A&M back on top 14-13 soon after that. But Kansas State regained the lead with a 40-yard field goal before pushing the lead to 23-14 on a 52-yard run by Dominique Heath just before halftime.
THAT’S A NO NO: Kansas State’s cornerback Donnie Starks received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of the first half when he threw Reynolds to the ground and then squatted over him and pressed his crotch to the receiver’s chest. Reynolds then punched at the crotch of Starks, but he was not penalized. The penalty was enforced on the opening kickoff of the second half.
Reynolds got a bit of revenge for the play when he caught his touchdown pass in the third quarter over Starks and stared him down after making the grab.
The Associated Press contributed to this story