Texas Longhorns fans hoping for a first-half blowout for the home team against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first game back at Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium were surely left disappointed, as the Horns went into halftime leading 14-3.
It took a missed field goal by Kansas and a roughing the kicker penalty that extended a drive for the Longhorns to score their first points of the ball game on a 15-play, 92-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock and culminated in a two-yard touchdown run from Malcolm Brown.
Catches by Jaxon Shipley helped set up both Texas touchdowns, as well as a long run from Brown on the second scoring drive. Shipley turned his ankle on his first long catch, a 31-yard affair that was the big play on the first score. Shipley returned to the game and showed no ill-effects on an outside-breaking route to convert 3rd and 5 to continue the second scoring drive. He finished the half with four catches for 62 yards.
But Case McCoy threw an interception on the first drive targeting Daje Johnson down the seam and four straight runs from Johnathan Gray on another drive couldn't pick up the first down, as Gray was stopped short on 4th and 1.
Brown and Gray both broke off 21-yard runs in the first half, but otherwise often struggled to find open holes against a Kansas defense that was predictably loading the box, as the other 19 combined runs by the two went for only 49 yards.
A Hail Mary 43-yard pass from Jake Heaps to Rodriguez Coleman on 3rd and 14 with four seconds left in the half accounted for the only Kansas points. Texas cornerback Duke Thomas was in coverage on the play and was flagged for pass interference on the catch when he failed to get his head around on the play.
After picking up 38 yards on their initial drive that ended in the missed field goal, Kansas gained only 37 yards on their next 16 plays before the scoring drive to close the half, as the Texas linebacker turned in perhaps their best half of the season, punctuated by two big hits by Dalton Santos, the latter of which came in a third-and-short situation in front of the sticks.