AUSTIN, Texas — Johnathan Gray rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, David Ash threw a 63-yard touchdown pass and Texas beat Kansas State 31-21 Saturday night in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
Gray became Texas’ first 100-yard rusher on the season and Texas’ defense, pushed around in two consecutive losses, put up a solid and energetic performance, forcing three critical second-half turnovers.
Ash, who missed the previous game with concussion-like symptoms, passed for 166 yards in the first half but missed the second with a new head injury. Senior Case McCoy took over, leading two touchdown drives.
Texas coach Mack Brown has been under intense pressure after three sub-par seasons and a bad start this year. The victory allowed Texas (2-2, 1-0) to avoid its first 1-3 start since 1956.
John Hubert scored two touchdowns and Tyler Lockett had 13 catches for 237 yards for Kansas State (2-2, 0-1).
The Longhorns snapped a five-game losing streak in the series, beating the Wildcats for the first time since 2003.
Gray’s first touchdown in the second quarter came after he made two dazzling cuts on a 21-yard run. His second put Texas up 24-7 in the third. Malcolm Brown ran for Texas’ last touchdown after the Wildcats had pulled within 10 points early in the fourth quarter.
The defense, which played so poorly in the two losses, gave up a huge night receiving to Lockett, but forced the three turnovers that swung momentum early in the second half and preserved the win late.
Ash, who had been cleared to play Friday night, showed no effects of the previous head injury early in the game. But he took several big hits, both on runs and when standing in the pocket, before floating a perfectly-thrown pass to Kendall Sanders for Texas’ first touchdown.
Texas went up 17-0 after Ash converted a fourth down with a short pass to Jaxon Shipley to set up Gray’s first touchdown. Kansas State responded with its first drive across midfield and Hubert spun through two tacklers on a 15-yard touchdown run with 1 minute left in the half.