Sunday, October 5, 2003

No. 13 Texas 24, No. 16 Kansas State 20

Freshman QB dives late for winning TD

By Jim Vertuno
The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas - Enough talk about Texas being soft. The 13th-ranked Longhorns showed they can gut out a big win - and with a freshman leading the way.

Vince Young shook off a sore right ankle to rally the Longhorns with his running and passing and scored the winning touchdown from a yard out on fourth down with five minutes left as No. 13 Texas beat No. 16 Kansas State 24-20 Saturday.

The Longhorns (4-1, 1-0 Big 12), whose reputation suffered a beating after a 38-28 home loss to Arkansas on Sept. 13, will face No. 1 Oklahoma next week in Dallas.

"This brings back the swagger," Texas tailback Cedric Benson said. "We can get rid of the 'soft' talk."

"We needed a tough win," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "We needed a come-from-behind win. I'm proud the guys did what they needed to do to win."

What the Longhorns needed was someone to make big plays late to steal momentum and win the game. They got it all from Young.

The backup to starter Chance Mock in Texas' quarterback rotation, Young led Texas to a second-quarter field goal on his first drive but limped off the field in pain after rolling his ankle on a sack in the third.

He returned in the fourth to lead Texas to the winning score after Mock had little success getting the nation's highest scoring offense moving.

"They said it was a bad sprain. I thought he was through," Brown said.

Young said he feared the worst when his ankle rolled. Television replays showed a gruesome looking twist and he clutched at it immediately.

"It felt like it was gone," Young said. "Once I got to the sideline, I was able to walk it off."

Young's fourth-down dive over the top of the line capped an 88-yard drive that started after Texas recovered Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson's fumble.

The big play in the drive came when Young uncorked a 52-yard pass to Tony Jeffery, who scored the game's first touchdown on a blocked punt in the first quarter. Jeffery went over cornerback Cedrick Williams to make the grab, and Young scored five plays later.

"We always knew Vince could run the football, but he went out there and made plays today," said Texas receiver Roy Williams.

The Longhorns gambled by not going for a tying field goal on fourth down and Young's stretch with his 6-foot-5 frame made it pay off.

"If you can't make 6 inches," Brown said. "You can't win the game."

For Kansas State (4-2, 0-1), the Wildcats' second straight loss labels them once again as a pretenders for the national title and knocks them completely out of the chase.

"It was a devastating loss," said linebacker Bryan Hickman. "It was probably the biggest game of the season."

Roberson's fumble marred what was almost a spectacular return for the quarterback who missed K-State's loss to Marshall because of a hand injury.

Roberson ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns - including a 1-yard run that gave the Wildcats a 20-17 lead. But he also had three turnovers with two interceptions, including one in the end zone that killed a scoring chance late in the first half.

Instead, it was Young who grabbed the spotlight and took a huge step toward grabbing control of the offense.

"Vince is just a scary guy," Kansas State defensive coordinator Bob Elliott said. "You can tell he's going to be one of the great ones."

Taking a cue from the K-State playbook, Young piled up a team-high 80 yards rushing on options and draw plays and threw for 69 yards.

Mock played most of the first half and threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Sloan Thomas that gave Texas a 17-3 lead, but he was ineffective in the second.

Roberson looked as though he would be the hero. His spinning, weaving 27-yard touchdown run in the third cut Texas' lead to 17-10 and a long completion to James Terry set up the second score.

But just when the Wildcats looked to put the game away after getting a fumble deep in Texas territory, the momentum turned on Roberson's fumble.

"It was down there for the knockout," Roberson said. "I just fumbled the ball. There are no excuses."

Texas had to fight for every yard against a stiff Wildcats defense.

After rolling to wins of 48-7 over Rice and 63-18 over Tulane, the Longhorns had just 290 total yards and gave up six sacks. Only Young's ability to dance around rushers kept it from being more.

"We went to Vince because we weren't blocking and he's mobile," Brown said. "I was amazed by his poise."

Texas scored first on special teams when Michael Huff blocked a punt that Jeffery recovered in the end zone. Huff was so quick getting past the line that he got to the ball before just as punter Jared Brite dropped it to his foot.

Kansas State made it 10-3 on Joe Rheem's 41 yard field goal before Texas, which led the nation in scoring coming into the game, scored its first offensive touchdown when Mock floated a perfect deep pass to Thomas with 1:09 left in the half.

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