A sea­son in 10 plays for Longhorns

Some made us cheer, oth­ers made us moan, as we take a look back.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE -

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:

“Ash’s dash”

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

Cedric Golden

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.

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