UT han­dles No. 22 USC

Trail­ing 14-3 early on, UT re­verses course with 34 points in row

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Nick Moyle STAFF WRITER nmoyle@ex­press-news.net twit­ter.com/nr­moyle

AUSTIN — For those Tex­ans wary of the seem­ingly end­less in­flux of Cal­i­for­ni­ans to their state, Fri­day pre­sented a brief vi­sion of their imag­ined apocalypse.

That af­ter­noon, car­di­nal-and-gold USC gear stained the lush lawn of the Capi­tol build­ing while the Spirit of Troy march­ing band planted it­self on the front steps. The in­va­sion had be­gun — with­out a hint of op­po­si­tion in sight.

Satur­day night, those in­ter­lop­ers fi­nally en­coun­tered the re­sis­tance. The Tro­jans found con­quer­ing Royal-Me­mo­rial Sta­dium wasn’t as easy as strolling onto de­fense­less prop­erty through open gates.

In ar­guably the most im­por­tant — cer­tainly the most shock­ing — tri­umph of the Tom Her­man era, Texas de­feated No. 22 USC 37-14 in front of a school-record 103,507 fans to close out the non-con­fer­ence por­tion of its sched­ule.

It was a game thor­oughly dom­i­nated by Texas (2-1), which scored 34 unan­swered points af­ter falling be­hind 14-3 in the first quar­ter.

“You never want to be in that po­si­tion,” Her­man said, “but we train on how to re­spond when you are in that po­si­tion.”

Fresh­man quar­ter­back JT Daniels steered the Tro­jans (1-2) to touch­downs on two of their first three drives de­spite an on­slaught of pres­sure from the UT de­fense. Even with co­or­di­na­tor Todd Or­lando di­al­ing up blitzes, Daniels was able to cre­ate chunk plays and con­vert on third down to pro­long pos­ses­sion.

A 29-yard com­ple­tion to re­ceiver Amon St. Brown on third-and-9 set up tail­back Stephen Carr’s 23yard touch­down run on the game’s open­ing drive.

The high­light of USC’s third of­fen­sive out­ing was Daniels’ 40yard hookup with St. Brown. Tail­back Vavae Male­peai scored on the next play when he shed Texas safety Bran­don Jones and bounced out­side to nar­rowly beat safety Caden Sterns to the goal line.

Those touch­downs sand­wiched Cameron Dicker’s first ca­reer field-goal at­tempt and make, a 20-yarder on a 12-play drive that fiz­zled at the 3-yard line. Dicker also nailed a pair of 46-yard tries in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Her­man has said be­fore that mo­men­tum “is an illusion,” an in­tan­gi­ble con­cept that has no real im­pact on a game’s out­come. It felt real for Texas on Satur­day.

When re­ceiver Lil’Jor­dan Humphrey spun off a de­fender and sprinted 47 yards for a touch­down to cut USC’s lead to 14-10, Texas perked up. Af­ter Kris Boyd soared to wres­tle away a ball from St. Brown in the sec­ond quar­ter, the sta­dium shook. And when speedy safety Bran­don Jones tracked down USC run­ning back Stephen Carr two yards shy of the goal line on fourth-and-goal, the Longhorns be­gan to be­lieve.

Even the of­fi­ci­at­ing crew seemed to be swayed.

Late in the first half Sam Eh­linger ap­peared to be sacked for a safety in the end zone by line­backer Porter Gustin, but of­fi­cials ruled the ball was across the goal line when the UT quar­ter­back’s knee touched ground. Gustin, an All-Amer­i­can can­di­date and USC’s de­fen­sive totem, was dis­qual­i­fied early in the sec­ond half for a ques­tion­able targeting penalty.

USC did it­self few fa­vors af­ter a scorch­ing start. The Tro­jans com­mit­ted nine penal­ties for 94 yards, in­clud­ing sev­eral that pro­longed Texas drives at the most in­op­por­tune times.

Even with­out a slew of self-in­flicted wounds, USC just looked out­gunned.

The rout truly took form when wide­out Joshua Moore burned his sin­gle de­fender and lunged for a 27-yard touch­down re­cep­tion on the Longhorns’ open­ing sec­ond­half drive. By that point, Texas had reeled off 20 straight points to seize a 23-14 lead. For Texas, it only got bet­ter. About four min­utes later, fresh­man safety Caden Sterns leapt through the Tro­jans line to block a long field-goal at­tempt. Line­backer An­thony Wheeler scooped the ball and rum­bled 46 yards to put Texas ahead 30-14.

Eh­linger added one fi­nal score on a 4-yard touch­down scram­ble late in the third quar­ter.

“To go down 14-3, there was no hang­ing of heads, there was no dis­cour­age­ment or neg­a­tiv­ity on the side­line,” Her­man said. “We started play­ing a lit­tle bit bet­ter, made a few ad­just­ments of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively.”

Tim Warner / Getty Images

Lil'Jor­dan Humphrey is off and run­ning af­ter mak­ing the catch, go­ing 47 yards for a touch­down that turned the tide for UT in the sec­ond quar­ter Satur­day night.

Eric Gay / Associated Press

Texas quar­ter­back Sam Eh­linger, left, feels the heat from USC’s Chris­tian Rec­tor. Eh­linger threw two TD passes and ran for one.

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