Longhorns allow 672 yards, the fifth-highest total ever, as Sooners take momentum with third-quarter surge
Posted October 8th, 2016
DALLAS — After their third-straight loss where Texas scored a lot of points but gave up even more, Kent Perkins and Armanti Foreman stood up and spoke from the heart.
Hearts were breaking all over the Cotton Bowl’s burnt-orange north end Saturday as No. 20 Oklahoma celebrated a 45-40 win over its archrival.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield of Lake Travis planted a large OU flag on the Texas sideline. Meanwhile, in the locker room, two UT upperclassmen delivered the message for teammates to keep their heads up, come back next week and keep fighting.
“The seniors, they want to see a change, not just for them but for us,” left tackle Connor Williams said. “They want to see Texas back on top. We all do. We’re just trying to get it right.”
In the first half, Texas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) looked like a different squad with coach and now-coordinator Charlie Strong calling the defensive plays. Dylan Haines had two interceptions, and the Longhorns gave up really only one big play — a 71-yard touchdown catch by Dede Westbrook.
It was everything UT athletic director Mike Perrin wanted to see. Progress.
But in the second half, or specifically the third quarter, Texas got crimsoned and creamed. OU (3-2, 2-0) scored on four straight possessions, tacked on seven more with a 93-yard drive and collected a game-icing field goal that kissed the right upright.
Afterward, Strong was deflated and dismissed a question about whether a win over OU would have helped his standing. “I need ’em all, so…,” Strong said, his voice trailing off. Under the current head coach, the Longhorns are now 0-14 when trailing at halftime.
The Sooners had 672 yards, the fifth-highest total allowed in Longhorns’ history. Previously, the fifth-worst total was 665 given up to Texas Tech last Thanksgiving.
Texas countered with 425 total yards as running back D’Onta Foreman had 159 on the ground. It wasn’t nearly enough.
OU’s star running back, Samaje Perine, had a career-high 35 carries for 214 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Westbrook, OU’s star receiver, had a career-high 10 catches for a school-record 232 receiving yards. Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett can breathe easy. In 2013, Lockett had 237 receiving yards, still the most allowed by the UT secondary in school history.
“They came down, ran it down our throats,” UT linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “Guys started getting their head down, guys stopped playing, letting guys go and that’s what you can’t have on defense. You’ve got to play until the whistle blows.”
Pressed to dissect it all, Perine said, “It is what it is.”
Few predicted that OU would have had a pedestrian 14-13 lead at halftime. That’s when, as OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said, “an old-fashioned Big 12 football game” broke out.
On the first drive of the third quarter, Texas quarterback Shane Buechele gave the Horns the lead with a pretty 63-yard strike to Devin Duvernay. That didn’t last long, as Perine’s 28-yard run set up Westbrook’s 42-yard touchdown catch.
The Horns responded and took a 27-21 lead on Dorian Leonard’s bobbled-then-secured, 45-yard touchdown catch. But then on second-and-7 from the OU 40, UT cornerback Kris Boyd froze, allowing Dahu Green to make a 51-yard catch. Mayfield scored, Texas went three-and-out and Mayfield found Westbrook again for a 47-yarder.
“The third quarter, it was too many big plays being executed,” UT defensive tackle Chris Nelson said. “Play after play, we kind of slid away then.”
Even when Texas got a break, the Longhorns couldn’t convert. Joe Mixon muffed a punt at OU’s 23-yard line, but three plays later, Buechele threw an interception at the 7. All in all, the Horns generated only three points off four Sooners turnovers.
Perine’s 3-yard scoring run early in the fourth gave OU a 42-27 lead. By that point, the Sooners had all the momentum and the Horns couldn’t get any breaks.
The Sooners gobbled up almost eight minutes with a 60-yard drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal that banged off the upright and went in. Mayfield fumbled on third-and-5 late, but somehow corralled it with multiple Horns closing in.
It was that kind of day. It’s been that kind of season in Austin.
“I told our players that we’ve got seven left,” Strong said, “and we’ve just got to continue to work and get better and go get ‘em. There’s no reason why we can’t.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[brightcove_video video_id=”5162609011001″ caption=”Statesman reporter Brian Davis recaps what happened during the “Red River Showdown” in which Texas lost 40-45 to their rival Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday, October 8, 2016. “]