Mistakes, missed opportunities cost Texas in fourth straight road loss

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The final minute ticked away Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium as the Kansas State students seated behind the Texas bench chanted in unison three words that the Longhorns, despite all their resources, could not dispute.

“We own Texas.”

Indeed, they do. K-State won its fifth straight game here over Texas, 24-21, and seventh in the past nine overall meetings, dropping coach Charlie Strong’s team below .500 once again with its fourth loss in as many games away from home.

It’s an all-too-familiar spot for Texas, trying to avoid its third straight losing season under the embattled coach, whose margin for remaining error might have reached zero after the Longhorns failed to capitalize on three second-half turnovers by Kansas State.

Texas simply did not make the most of its chances. It did not make anything of its chances, in fact.

“We had just so many opportunities,” Strong said.

He’s not kidding.

The litany of Texas errors began during a first half in which Kansas State held the football for more than 23 minutes. But the Longhorns still trailed by just one score.

On fourth-and-1 in the second quarter from the Kansas State 43-yard line, Texas turned to quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and its 18-wheeler package. Before he could take the snap, though, several Longhorns jumped at the line of scrimmage.

False start. Time to punt.

“If I knew,” Swoopes said of the mistakes, “I would have told somebody and got it fixed.”

Then, with Texas down 24-7 in the third quarter on fourth-and-3 from the Kansas State 26-yard line, quarterback Shane Buechele delivered a nice ball for Dorian Leonard.

Leonard dropped it.

“It’s hard,” Buechele said, “just to see the things that you could have done.”

Buechele threw an even better pass on fourth-and-16 with eight minutes to play, trailing 24-14, but it fell through the hands of Armanti Foreman in the end zone.

Four minutes later, the freshman quarterback failed to handle a low snap from Zach Shackelford on third-and-goal. Buechele fell on the ball, but Trent Domingue shanked a 35-yard field goal on the next play, failing to reduce K-State’s edge to one score.

“Those just would have been huge plays for us,” offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert said.

They were, instead, huge for Kansas State, which moved to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12. The Longhorns (3-4, 1-3) return home next Saturday to face No. 9 Baylor in a game -- seemingly like the rest of them now -- that rates as a must-win for Strong.

“We’ve got to learn from it,” Strong said after this loss. “We’ve got to battle back.”

Time appears to be growing short.