Photo Courtesy: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
After more than a week of rest following a bye week, the Texas Longhorns arrived in Houston looking to let off some steam following their gut-wrenching loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. However, despite trailing by three scores early in the contest, the Houston Cougars were going to do anything but roll over. Ultimately, with a little bit of luck, the Longhorns squirmed their way to a 31-24 win as a result of freshman running back CJ Baxter’s game-winning touchdown late in the contest.
If you took a nap after Savion Red’s one-yard touchdown rush with 12:49 left in the second quarter, you probably did yourself a service, while also later awakening to see a much different game. At that point in the contest, the Longhorns had galloped their way to a quick 21-0 lead over the Cougars, highlighted by two Quinn Ewers passing touchdowns and Red’s wildcat score. However, if you opened your eyes with 7:43 left to go in the fourth quarter, you would realize that the Longhorns were in the thick of it with a 24-24 tie ballgame, after the defense had allowed three touchdown passes from Houston quarterback Donovan Smith.
Ultimately, the game came down to Houston’s final drive on offense, trailing Texas 31-24, after Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter marched down the field and gave the Longhorns the lead. Then, following a questionable spot by the referee crew on a play that appeared to earn a first down, the Cougars were forced to go for it on fourth-and-one from Texas’s 10-yard line. On the next play, despite his receiver creating some separation, Smith’s pass fell incomplete as Longhorn defensive back Jahdae Barron supplied a last-second hit which jarred the ball loose – securing a win for Texas.
While Texas fans can breathe now, it will be tough to win many more games if the team plays the way that they did for the majority of the second, third and fourth quarters. But, with that said, a win is a win.
As previously mentioned, Quinn Ewers started the game off in his element, throwing only one incompletion in the entire first quarter. However, eventually, the Longhorns offense (seemingly) predicated itself around throwing check down passes and stalled. Additionally, Ewers later had to exit the game following an injury that he sustained on a rushing attempt.
Moreover, on defense, the Texas secondary was once again picked apart. While the secondary has suffered a number of recent injuries, there were multiple occurrences of miscommunication on Saturday, many of which led to drive-extending plays for the Houston offense on third down.
But, as the old saying goes, you ‘dance with the one that brought you,’ which has been been sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks this entire season. As mentioned previously, Brooks put the offense on his back in the fourth quarter, leading to CJ Baxter’s game winning touchdown rush which occurred with just 5:37 left in the game. While Brooks was just one-yard shy of eclipsing the 100-yard rushing mark against Houston, he added an additional 51-yards and eight receptions through the air. With Ewers’ health status being questionable, the Longhorns will have to continue to hope that the young man from Hallettsville, TX has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Next Saturday, the Longhorns will host the BYU Cougars at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX. Kickoff from DKR is scheduled for 2:30 P.M. (CT), and will be aired on either ABC or ESPN.