STILLWATER — Â David Ash came up big Saturday night. Real big. Ash hit tight-end DJ Grant with a crossing pattern on a fourth down for a 29-yard gain, followed by 34-yard long toss to Mike Davis, setting up Joe Bergeron’s 2-yard touchdown run with :29 seconds left as the No. 12 Texas Longhorns defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 41-36 at Boone-Pickens Stadium.
David Ash followed up on what was a spectacular road game at Ole Miss two weeks before, with another clutch performance. He was 30-of-37 passing, for 304 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick. He hit sophomore legacy Jaxson Shipley with all three touchdowns, who finished with five catches for 82 yards.
“We’ve won games, big games with clutch quarterbacks here at Texas. David stepped into that group tonight,” said Texas coach Mack Brown.
The three-headed monster at tailback was reduced to two when Malcolm Brown left the game in the first quarter after three carries with an ankle injury. All that did was give Johnathan Gray and Bergeron a chance to shine. Gray was critical in the fourth quarter, converting two 3rd-downs, and tallying 68 yards on 12 carries. With each carry, you can see the light turning on for Gray.
”He will not be under any more pressure than this, and he couldn’t have done this this time last year,” said coachÂ Brown.Â ”(Ash) has really grown up. He is the leader of this football team.’
The first quarter became a scoring bonanza. 35 total points from big plays and poor tackling. Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1) started the barrage on the second play of the game. Running back Joseph Randle went 69 yards to the house and an early 7-0 lead. Randle finished with 199 yards on the ground, and two scores.
Missing junior linebacker Jordan Hicks and defensive tackle Brandon Moore proved to be worse than expected.
Texas (4-0, 1-0) quickly responded with a 10-play drive when Ash hit Shipley for 44 yard perfectly-placed deep ball and a 7-7 score. 90 seconds later Ash would find Shipley again, this time on a 20-yd wheel-route for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead, cashing in on Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro’s interception of Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh.
Walsh, who went 18-of-27 for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, led the Pokes on the next drive culminating with a 44-yard touchdown strike to Josh Stewart. Stewart caught the ball, was then hit by Texas safety Adrian Phillips, for which Stewart bounced off of him, and sprinted the rest for the score, bringing it to 14-14.
The ensuing kickoff would top the first quarter scoring. Longhorn’s senior D.J. Monroe took the kickoff 100 yards and a 21-14 advantage for Texas.
The second quarter, the Texas defense showed up. Despite giving up a Quinn Sharp 23-yard field goal, the defense held the Cowboys to 91 yards and three points, showing incredible red-zone defense. It was a positive to offset the horrendous tackling of the linebackers and secondary. It was enough to go into halftime with a 21-17 lead.
The third quarter started with Ash’s first bad throw, and subsequent first interception on the season. It was on 3rd-down, after going 9-for-9 on his previous 3rd-down conversions. Cowboys linebacker Johnson picked off the pass killing a critical opening drive to Texas.
Oklahoma State wasted no time, as Sharp nailed a 38-yard field goal, making it 21-20, capping a 8-play drive. Quandre Diggs, who made play after play in the second half, dropped a potential interception in the end-zone on that drive.
“They made a play at the end and they happened to make a play when the clock ran out,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. ”Give them credit.”
Texas responded with heavy doses of Monroe and Gray, converting four 3rd-downs. Shipley caught his third touchdown of the night when Ash hit him on a fade to the back side of the end-zone. Perfect pass. Perfect catch. 28-20 lead.
Oklahoma State’s offense then went into explosive-mode. Walsh hit wide receiver John Goodlett for a 20-yard touchdown toss, missing the 2-point conversion. Next drive, Randle blew through the line for a 2-yard scoring plunge, and a 33-28 lead, early in the fourth quarter.
Then Bergeron and Gray happened. “Joey B” scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive, making it 34-33, finishing off a drive in which Gray was introduced to college football USA. Gray gauged the Oklahoma State front-seven with runs of 12, 14, and 19. Each carry was vision, patience, speed, and burst.
After the Pokes’ Sharp hit a 24-yard field goal at the 2:34 mark, It would come down to one final drive for Ash and the Texas offense.
When Bergeron pushed through for a 2-yard touchdown , and 41-36 game-winning score, the city of Austin collectively exhaled for another Saturday.
“The only thing that was important for us tonight was to win,” Brown said. ”We needed to go on the road, we needed to win against a team that had beaten us twice in a row, we needed to win against a team that had won more games than anybody in the Big 12 the last two years and we needed to win at a place where they hadn’t lost for the last two years.”