Longhorns stomp on Horned Frogs

String of turnovers helps UT score a de­ci­sive vic­tory over TCU in Big 12 opener

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Davis bdavis@states­man.com

Mo­men­tum may be an il­lu­sion, as Texas coach Tom Her­man is want­ing to say. Try telling that to the 95,124 fans at Royal-Memo­rial Sta­dium on Satur­day.

What they saw was no il­lu­sion, as 17th-ranked TCU can at­test. The Texas foot­ball pro­gram is in­deed com­ing back to life.

Trail­ing by six in the third quar­ter, the Longhorns con­verted two turnovers into points and made enough plays down the stretch to cap­ture a 31-16 vic­tory over the Horned Frogs.

This is no il­lu­sion, ei­ther: The Longhorns (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) will wake up on Sun­day tied for first place in the league stand­ings. The Horned Frogs (2-2, 0-1) left town know­ing their four-game win­ning streak in this se­ries, one in which they have dom­i­nated, is over.

“This is just one step. One step. This is not the end-all, be-all,” Her­man said. “This is a good win against an­other ranked op­po­nent, an op­po­nent that’s

go­ing to win a lot of games in their sea­son as well.”

Fresh­man Caden Sterns had two in­ter­cep­tions as part of a four-turnover day for the de­fense. Quar­ter­back Sam Eh­linger threw two touch­down passes and the rush­ing game tal­lied up 112 yards for the Horns.

To beat USC, Texas had to stack one win­ning play on top of an­other. That’s ex­actly what hap­pened against TCU, too. Same as last week, the Horns didn’t tense up af­ter a bad break, like two missed field goals. And they didn’t crack af­ter one bad call, like not get­ting pass in­ter­fer­ence near the goal line when Ver­non Scott prac­ti­cally tack­led Collin John­son.

If Her­man truly turns this pro­gram around, Satur­day’s third quar­ter may be for­ever known as the turn­ing point.

Cameron Dicker missed a 43-yard field goal at­tempt, and TCU took over with 4:05 left in the pe­riod. But two plays later, Texas de­fen­sive end Mar­qez Bim­age got just enough of the foot­ball to knock it loose from TCU’s Shawn Robin­son. Bran­don Jones pounced on it for the turnover.

The Horns wasted no time. Eh­linger couldn’t con­nect with John­son streak­ing to­ward the end zone. But on first-and-20 from the TCU 31, he reared back and put it out there again. This time, John­son made a catch fully ex­tended in the end zone for the score.

On TCU’s next pos­ses­sion, Robin­son tried to throw over the mid­dle him­self. This seemed like a dicey move con­sid­er­ing how the de­fen­sive backs were swarm­ing all over the place. UT’s Kris Boyd knocked a sure-fire touch­down pass out of Jalen Reagor’s hands in the first quar­ter. Those two went at it all day.

Robin­son’s pass was eaten by the wolf. Sterns, known for his three wolf tat­toos, had an easy in­ter­cep­tion at the TCU 35 and re­turned it to the 2-yard line. It was his sec­ond of the game and third of his young ca­reer.

“Caden Sterns, a hell of a foot­ball player,” Her­man said. “A hell of a foot­ball player.”

Eh­linger went for the kill. On first-and-goal, he faked a hand­off to Daniel Young and then ran around the right side for the score. Texas led 24-16 with 28 sec­onds left in the pe­riod.

The Horns weren’t done. Lil’Jor­dan Humphrey was tar­geted only once in the first half as TCU clamped down on him. But he got loose on a fourth-quar­ter cross­ing route. Just like against USC, Humphrey made a catch and turned it into some­thing more. His 38-yard touch­down with 3:18 left put this one on ice.

NICK WAG­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Texas wide re­ceiver Collin John­son catches a touch­down pass Satur­day, help­ing the Longhorns up­set No. 17 TCU in their Big 12 opener.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY STEPHEN SPILL­MAN

Texas fans cheer as the Longhorns mount a come­back that leads to vic­tory.

NICK WAG­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Texas re­ceiver Lil’Jor­dan Humphrey scores a touch­down Satur­day. The Longhorns ral­lied in the sec­ond half to beat TCU.

AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN NICK WAG­NER /

Texas de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Or­lando ar­gues a call with an of­fi­cial dur­ing Satur­day’s up­set of TCU in Austin.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY STEPHEN SPILL­MAN

Texas quar­ter­back Sam Eh­linger scram­bles away from TCU de­fen­sive end L.J. Col­lier in the sec­ond half of the Longhorns’ Big 12 opener Satur­day against TCU.

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