By ARNE GREEN
Special to The HDN
MANHATTAN - Even Bill Snyder, who is not easily impressed, knew he had witnessed something special.
That his No. 11-ranked Kansas State Wildcats sent Texas home with a loss was nothing new, far from it. The fact that they sent the Longhorns home empty-handed was.
"I can't tell you the last time we had a shutout," Snyder said watching the Wildcats blitz Texas, 23-0, Saturday before an appreciative homecoming crowd at Snyder Family Stadium. "It just doesn't happen in this day and age, so I thought it was something to be truly proud of."
For the record, the Wildcats did blank Kent State (37-0) in 2011 and Florida Atlantic (45-0) in 2006, but had not shut out a Big 12 opponent since a 45-0 rout of Iowa State in 2003. The last time they did it at home was 1999 against Missouri (66-0).
"It's quite a challenge to shut teams out, especially in the Big 12," said senior defensive end Ryan Mueller, who recorded four tackles, including one of two Wildcat sacks in the game. "But it's a credit to the guys in our locker room and the guys on defense just taking pride in their work during the week and going out there and putting it all together."
Not only did the Wildcats rise to individual occasions - an Elijah Lee sack in the second quarter pushed Texas out of field goal range and a fourth-down stop at their 14-yard line preserved the shutout in the fourth -- but also collectively slammed the door.
The Longhorns, who averaged 497 yards total offense the previous two weeks, finished with a season-low 196.
"We needed to be as good as we were," said Snyder, whose Wildcats improved to 6-1 overall and stayed atop the Big 12 standings at 4-0.
That's because while the defense thrived, the Wildcats still found points hard to come by. They settled for short field goals on their first two possessions and clung to that six-point margin before finally finding the end zone late in the second quarter for a 13-0 halftime advantage.
K-State did end up with 367 yards total offense, 224 passing and 143 on the ground.
"That was a tough defense," senior running back DeMarcus Robinson said of the Longhorns (3-5, 2-3), who came in ranked 34th nationally in total defense. "We started our all right but we did not get as many touchdowns as we wanted to.
"We still have to make a lot of adjustments."
It was Robinson, who broke a 23-yard run on the opening drive, who finally got the Wildcats in the end zone on a 3-yard run with 2:18 left in the first half. It capped a 12-play, 85-yard drive that finally gave them some breathing room.
"It was big," said Curry Sexton, who kept the drive alive with a 24-yard reception from Jake Waters. "We got up 6-0 and you're not comfortable because you look up at the scoreboard and you should be up 14-0.
"They were moving the ball a little bit and you get kind of nervous thinking, they get a score here and they go up 7-6, and we really should be up two scores right now. So for us to be able to go in at half and go up 13-0, that was big for us."
Freshman kicker Matthew McCrane stretched that lead to 16-0 late in the third quarter with a 38-yard field goal -- his third on the game. It was still a two-possession game less than two minutes into the fourth when the Wildcat defense again came up big.
Texas drove for a first down to the K-State 23-yard line and picked up eight more yards on the next two plays when the Wildcats suddenly stiffened. Linebacker Jonathan Truman stopped Jonathan Gray a foot short on third down, and following a timeout by the Longhorns, teamed with Dante Barnett to stuff Gray again on fourth.
"It was huge for us," said Truman, who led the Wildcats with eight tackles. "Our attitude as a defense, we didn't want them to get any points and it was late in the game and for them to go for it on that fourth and short, our backs were against the wall.
"We just had to show up and get that big stop, and it meant a lot to us."
The stop also seemed to inspire the Wildcat offense, which promptly marched 86 yards in 10 plays, icing the game on Charles Jones' 1-yard run with 9:31 left.
Waters, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 224 yards, hit Tyler Lockett for 23 and 16 yards on the drive and found Deante Burton for 18 on a third down to keep it going.
Lockett had eight catches for 103 yards, with Burton and Sexton each grabbing four, while Robinson had 60 yards and Jones 57 to lead the rushing attack.
For Texas, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes completed 13 of 25 passes for 106 yards and led the Longhorns in rushing with 31.
But the day belonged to the K-State defense.
"Our defense played extremely well today," senior center B.J. Finney said. "Hats off to them; they did a great job.
"It was a great feeling, knowing that they played well enough to earn that shutout, which is huge - especially in the Big 12."