A season in 10 plays for Longhorns
Some made us cheer, others made us moan, as we take a look back.
cedric golden looks at the key plays that defined this season for the texas football team.
SEPT. 8 There’s
still some football remaining to be played — Texas closes its season on Saturday against Oregon State — but the regular-season story has already been told.
How did the Longhorns end up in the Alamo Bowl? Here are 10 plays — some good, some bad, all season-turning and, collectively, seasondefining — from Texas’ 8-4 season that have played critical parts to the story of the season:
Sophomore quarterback David Ash, who was 20 of 27 for 156 yards and a touchdown pass in the season-opening win over Wyoming, followed that up with a 16-of-22, 221yard, two-touchdown effort in the second game, the 45-0 win over New Mexico.
But it was his spectacular 49-yard touchdown run, cutting back across the field to avoid tacklers on a fourth-and1 play from midfield on Texas’ opening drive, that served notice that he would also be a threat with his legs in his first full season as a starter.
At least that’s what we thought at the time. Sept. 15 “The Ole Miss takedown”
In what turned out to be the highest-scoring performance of the season, the Longhorns rolled to a 66-31 road win over Ole Miss. Ash completed 19 of 23 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns, none prettier than the 55-yard toss to Marquise Goodwin for Texas’ ninth and final touchdown.
Just two days earlier, Goodwin met President Obama along with his U.S. Olympic teammates. And earlier in the game, Goodwin had recorded his first career touchdown run, from 69 yards.
Texas was 3-0, heading into its Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State.
Sept. 29 “The stunner in Stillwater”
Texas, trailing Oklahoma State 36-34 in the final two minutes, faced a fourth-and-6 at its own 29-yard line. With no margin for error, Ash kept his team alive with a 29-yard pass to tight end D.J. Grant.
With the OSU defense reeling, Ash then connected with Mike Davis for 30 yards to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Joe Bergeron scored but lost the ball while going across the goal line. Replays upheld the touchdown ruling and Texas had its first conference win of the season.
It was an exciting end and Texas was 1-0 in conference play, but it couldn’t have happened had Ash not connected with Grant on the fourth down.
Oct. 6 “The ends meet”
One week later, in a nationally televised showdown against West Virginia, defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat combined for a huge play in the second quarter. Okafor beat his blocker and separated Geno Smith — who at the time was in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race — from the ball. Jeffcoat recovered the fumble in the end zone.
Oct. 6 “Oh, snap”
Later on in the same game, with Texas trailing the Mountaineers 41-38, Chris Whaley recovered a fumble at West Virginia’s 12-yard line.
Seven and one-half minutes remained in the game, and Texas seemed poised to at least tie the game with a field goal or score the go-ahead touchdown. But on thirdand-6 at the 8-yard line, center Dominic Espinosa snapped the ball over Ash’s head, resulting in a 16-yard loss back to the 24.
The pivotal play of Texas’ 48-45 loss not only took away a potential touchdown play, but also backed the Longhorns into a field-goal attempt of 41, not 25, yards.
Anthony Fera’s 41-yard try missed wide right, with 5:25 left in the game.
Oct. 13 “Red River meltdown”
For Texas, it was the longest day of the 2012 season, a humiliating 63-21 loss to Oklahoma, the third straight Red River Rivalry loss for the Longhorns.
But long before the final score, it was a 6-2 lead for the 13th-ranked Sooners over the 15thranked Longhorns, thanks to Chris Whaley’s block of an Oklahoma extra point and Quandre Diggs’ recovery and return for two points. Then the Longhorns punted. Then the Sooners punted. Then the Longhorns punted again. And that’s when Sooners running back Damien Williams kickstarted the rout.
Alex King’s 65-yard punt was downed at Oklahoma’s 5-yard line. On second-and-10, Williams burst through the Texas defense off the right side — 95 yards for a touchdown. The Sooners scored 30 unanswered points, and Texas was on its way to its second straight Big 12 loss. Oct. 13 “A ray of light on a dark day”
On a day of low points in Dallas, cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom made the two most explosive plays of the day.
Diggs got Texas on the board when he returned Whaley’s blocked extra point the length of the field for two points.
Two quarters later, Byndom returned a Landry Jones interception 28 yards for a touchdown. Oct. 20 “Magic Mike”
Texas’ 56-50 win over Baylor was the Longhorns’ biggest shootout of the season, and wide receiver Mike Davis played a starring role.
After the Bears had closed to within 42-40 in the third quarter, Davis hauled in a 67-yard pass from Ash that set up a Texas touchdown, the last of Joe Bergeron’s five touchdown runs. It gave Texas a 49-40 lead and stopped a 12-0 Bears run; the Longhorns added another big play — a 15yard touchdown catch by Davis — that helped ice the game with 2:53 left, but it was Davis’ big 67yarder — a career-long catch — that was the big one.
Oct. 27 “What can Brown do for you?”
Texas was well on the way to a devastating loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, but we’ll remember Case McCoy relieving an ineffective Ash and rallying the Longhorns. McCoy’s two big plays on the late, game-winning drive — a fourth-down pass to Jaxon Shipley for 18 yards and his 1-yard touchdown pass to Grant in the final seconds — were huge. But those two plays never would have happened had Jayhawks cornerback Greg Brown not dropped a sure interception on the first play of the drive.
Credit McCoy for taking advantage of the opportunity. But credit Brown for allowing McCoy the chance.
NOv. 3 “Carried by Carrington”
Byndom had his best game of the year in the 3122 win at Texas Tech. And his biggest play.
With Tech threatening to cut into the lead late, Byndom blocked Ryan Busin’s 23-yard field-goal attempt. Earlier in the game, Byndom preserved the lead by breaking up Seth Doege’s 2-point conversion pass in the end zone.
Contact Cedric Golden at 912-5944. Twitter: @ cedgolden
David Ash runs into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown in the Longhorns’ 45-0 win against New Mexico on Sept. 8. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Oklahoma’s Justin Brown comes down with a touchdown catch as Texas’ Quandre Diggs tries to defend during their game on Oct. 13.