After second-straight tough loss, Longhorns fall to 1-3 for the first time since 1956
Posted September 26th, 2015
There comes a point where rebuilding teams must overcome their own mistakes, questionable officiating or any other potential pitfalls that lead to losses.
For a brief instant on Saturday, it appeared that moment had arrived for Texas coach Charlie Strong and his Longhorns.
The defense couldn’t get off the field the first half. Yet that same unit produced two touchdowns off turnovers. The offense had two touchdowns wiped off the board because of penalties. Yet quarterback Jerrod Heard still had a chance late in a tie game with 1:33 remaining.
Little things matter, though. Punter Michael Dickson dropped a snap, the Cowboys got excellent field position and collected a 40-yard field goal with 6 seconds left. Game over.
No. 24 Oklahoma State won 30-27 as a crowd of 87,073 booed officials out of Royal-Memorial Stadium. It’s the first time Texas has started 1-3 since 1956.
“It was definitely an oh-no situation,” cornerback Duke Thomas said of Dickson’s drop.
Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway said, “There ain’t no way we were going to lose that game in overtime. Not at all.”
It was the second straight week the Longhorns endured a game-ending gut punch. Texas lost to California when a missed extra-point attempt with 1:11 remaining took away the chance for overtime. And now this.
“We do it to ourselves,” Strong said. “We’re going to have to create it ourselves. It’s all about making plays.”
Teams that commit an eye-popping 16 penalties for 128 yards usually don’t win games. One of those was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike call on Strong himself for arguing with officials. He couldn’t believe how defensive tackle Poona Ford can get called for holding on a running play.
“I don’t think I’ve been in a game where it was so lopsided penalty-wise,” said UT play-caller Jay Norvell. OSU had only seven penalties for 40 yards.
Teams that allow 9 of 16 third-down conversions usually lose, too. Teams that allow the opposing team to score six times in six chances inside the 20-yard line almost always lose.
“You’ve got to overcome mistakes,” running back Johnathan Gray said. “This team is a very talented team, but we make mistakes. We shoot ourselves in the foot.”
OSU’s Mason Rudolph looked otherworldly compared to Cal’s Jared Goff. Rudolph completed 22 of 34 passes for 290 yards as OSU stormed out of the gate and took an early 14-3 lead.
Texas was its own worst enemy at times. Taylor Doyle (holding) and Kent Perkins (offside) both had penalties in a drive that ended with Nick Rose’s 46-yard field goal.
Then things began to turn as Rudolph gift-wrapped an Oklahoma State turnover when the ball appeared to slip out of his hand. Hassan Ridgeway scooped up the fumble and raced 33 yards. Texas now trailed by only one with 14:25 left before halftime.
The Horns took the lead when backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes came in on a special short-yardage package similar to Oklahoma’s “Bell-dozer” scheme. Swoopes scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 7-yard run on fourth-and-2.
Freshman Holton Hill gave Texas a three-point lead with a 41-yard interception return for a score. But OSU kept coming. Perkins left the game with about 5 minutes left in the third quarter. After that, Texas didn’t get a single first down the rest of the game.
Dickson’s dropped snap and 10-yard punt made it all too easy for OSU to close things out.
“A lot of things happen out there that I may not agree with, but that’s the way the chips fell,” Thomas said.