HOUSTON (AP) – Kansas State was unbeatable against teams from Texas in the regular season, and that didn’t change on Wednesday night in the Texas Bowl.
Jesse Ertz threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores in Kansas State’s 33-28 victory over Texas A&M. He had 67 yards rushing to give him 1,012 this season.
The victory improved the Wildcats to 5-0 against teams from the Lone Star State this season after they downed Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and TCU earlier this year.
“I think that’s a really cool thing to accomplish,” said Ertz, who was named MVP. “It gives the fans some bragging rights.”
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.
“They’re a good defensive football team and we didn’t do anything we hadn’t done all year, but we may have done some things a little better,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.
The Wildcats (9-4) led 33-21 after Ertz bulled into the end zone on a 1-yard run with nine minutes left. Ertz set up the score with a 20-yard run two plays earlier.
“It was a case tonight where either we stopped (Ertz) or gave up the home run,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Consistency level was an issue. We gave up the three big plays in the first half and couldn’t get enough stops.”
The Aggies (8-5) 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, to give Kansas State the ball back and allow the Wildcats to run out the clock.
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.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Sumlin said. “Last year at this time he decided to come back, and I think it was worth it for him. I think he’s improved as a route runner, he’s got great hands. I think it was worth it coming back. He’s increased his value.”
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 7-0 lead when Keith Ford scored on a 7-yard run on their first possession.
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 Myles 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.
HANDLING GARRETT: 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 finished with one tackle.
“(Left tackle) Scott Frantz we had lined up against him,” Snyder said. “He’s a newcomer for us, and that probably gave him a great deal of confidence. He played well against him. He probably played as well as anyone who played against him this year.”
NO GATORADE FOR SNYDER: Snyder got a bucket of confetti dumped on his head near the end of the game. The 79-year-old coach said that was a nice way to celebrate and that his players knew better than to douse him with Gatorade.
“I think they realized that we could go back to the hotel and celebrate or we can go back to the hotel and run (laps) around the hotel all night,” he joked.
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