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Texas Longhorns lose to the Kansas Jayhawks in OT, 24-21

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Bye, Charlie.

Texas v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

In the end, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong couldn’t even watch.

In the end, star running back D’Onta Foreman sat on the visiting bench, his head down, with once hand clenched into a futile hook ‘em ‘Horns hand sign.

The field goal attempt by the Kansas Jayhawks had just sailed through the uprights — just barely — as Strong turned his head, breaking a 19-game conference losing streak for head coach David Beaty’s team in the Big 12 and marking the first win by Kansas over Texas since 1938.

With the 24-21 overtime win, the fate of the embattled Longhorns head coach is likely sealed with boosters pressuring president Greg Fenves to replace Strong with successful Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman.

Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert rode star running back D’Onta Foreman to the tune of a school-record 52 carries for 250 yards and two touchdowns. It was the third-most carries in a single game by any player in the FBS since 2000.

In crunch time, however, Foreman wasn’t able to come through for the one-dimensional offense, fumbling twice, including late in the fourth quarter, then failing to pick up a fourth-down attempt late in the game.

In all, the ‘Horns turned the ball over six times, even though the Jayhawks entered the game with only 15 turnovers forced on the entire season.

Kansas drove the ball deep into Texas territory despite lacking a timeout on the possession following Foreman’s second fumble.

On two crucial plays, calls went against the Longhorns — first a targeting call on sophomore linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch that looked questionable, then a potential game-sealing interception in the end zone for sophomore cornerback Kris Boyd.

After possessing the ball to the ground in the end zone, the intended receiver was able to knock the ball out.

What is targeting? What is a catch? No ones knows, least of all collegiate officials.

When Kansas tied the game late in regulation, the game was essentially over. Just look at the body language of the Texas players on the sidelines:

In overtime, freshman quarterback Shane Buechele continued the worst performance of his career with his third interception of the game at a crucial moment, sailing the football after scrambling out of the pocket.

Banged up early in the game, Buechele gamely tried to compete, but just didn’t have enough — the offense couldn’t get vertical in the passing game and relied totally on Foreman in the second half.

The first multi-interception game of Buechele’s career resulted in a final stat line of 17-of-26 passing for 165 yards and one touchdown. Of that total, 75 yards came on the first play from scrimmage, when senior wide receiver Jacorey Warrick broke a tackle and raced for a touchdown.

After that, it was downhill for the offense other than Foreman’s flawed but workmanlike effort.

In all likelihood, the game was likely lost in the first half -- the ‘Horns trailed 10-7 after the opening 30 minutes and are now 1-17 under Strong when trailing at halftime.

The Jayhawks defense paid for selling out to stop star running back D’Onta Foreman on that first play, but were otherwise able to slow Foreman down — he gained 61 yards on 13 carries in the first half, with a long run of 12 yards.

Playing with two back ups along the offensive line didn’t help the ‘Horns, either.

A fumble by senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in replacement of Buechele gave Kansas the ball deep in Texas territory with a chance to tie the game with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

When sophomore linebacker Edwin Freeman dropped an interception on a tipped pass, it looked like the ‘Horns had missed a big opportunity. However, a fumbled snap by the Kansas quarterback on 4th and 1 resulted in a turnover on downs for the defense.

Buechele returned to the game at that point after briefly leaving the field and receiving an evaluation for a head or neck injury in the locker room. On the field, the medical staff was testing his neck.

After picking up a first down on a pulled zone read, Buechele threw an interception on his second underthrown deep ball of the game, evidence that something is physically wrong with him following numerous big hits this season.

The defense got the ball back, but Buechele still wasn’t right, throwing another interception on a ball that fluttered badly out of his hand. Kansas tied the game on the 56-yard return, the first multi-interception game of Buechele’s Texas career.

The fumble parade for Foreman continued — the sixth of the season and the fifth lost, giving the Jayhawks the ball with a chance to take the lead. For all of Foreman’s success in 2016, ball security has been a major issue.

Following five straight punts, Sterlin Gilbert’s offense managed four straight turnovers, a remarkable accomplishment. In fact, the Longhorns handed the Jayhawks 21 percent of the team’s total in the span of less than five minutes of game time.

To put that into further perspective, Kansas forced a turnover once every 41.4 minutes until the fumble by Swoopes, then got four in five minutes.

Now that’s a meltdown.

Kansas kicked a field goal with 2:27 remaining in the second quarter to take a 10-7 lead.

A false start penalty on third-team center Elijah Rodriguez put the ‘Horns behind the chains and, as has happened all season, Texas was unable to recover to tie the game or take the lead late in the half.

The third opportunity to create a turnover for the Longhorns defense and special teams finally resulted in a conversion to open the second half — sophomore cornerback John Bonney deflected his eighth pass of the season and Freeman made up his drop in the first half by converting his second opportunity.

Benched and despondent on the sideline after a sixth fumble on the season, Foreman responded with seven straight carries for 28 yards on the ensuing drive.

The seventh was initially ruled a touchdown on the field and despite Foreman’s left forearm hitting the ground with the ball close to the goal line, the ruling stood and the ‘Horns took a 14-10 lead.

A swarming Texas defense managed to commit two personal fouls on a 3rd and 5 when Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley attempted to throw the ball away, but a nice play by sophomore safety DeShon Elliott taking on two blockers stopped a reverse for a big loss.

Then sophomore Fox end Breckyn “Brecklyn” Hager tracked down a running play from the back side to give the offense the ball once again.

With a 19-yard run in the third quarter, Foreman broke the school record formerly held by Longhorns legend Earl Campbell with his 12th consecutive 100-yard performance, a streak that started last season against Kansas.

Another pass batted down at the line of scrimmage on third down — a trend this season for Buechele — stopped the drive, but a fourth-down conversion thanks to a pass interference penalty put the Longhorns in scoring position with a chance to stretch the lead.

Texas missed an opportunity by calling a zone read on 3rd and 2 against a loaded Kansas box. Buechele pulled it and lost yardage, leaving one to wonder why the 18-Wheeler package wasn’t on the field if that was the play.

And then graduate transfer place kicker Trent Domingue missed the ensuing 31-yard field goal wide left.

The defense responded, as it has many times in the last six games, with McCulloch knocking the ball loose and Elliott recovering the football. The young safety had stopped the previous Jayhawks possession by breaking up a pass that looked like a potential completion until Elliott made a nice close on the football.

Foreman carried the ball seven times for 35 yards on the ensuing drive, including a conversion on 4th and 1, to score his second touchdown of the second half and stretch the lead to 21-10.

At that point, the Longhorns running back was getting stronger as the Jayhawks defense wore down due to a lack of depth.

Carrying such a heavy load perhaps had an impact on his ball security, as Foreman fumbled on his 46th carry, a school record. It was his seventh fumble this season and fifth Longhorns turnover of the day.

The play gave the ball back to Kansas at the 13-yard line, costing Texas a chance to stretch the lead to six or more.

After that, the Jayhawks took advantage and sealed the game.

Now it’s time to look towards the future, with another head coach at the helm in Austin.

This just wasn’t acceptable and the decision facing president Greg Fenves should no longer be difficult.