LSU receiver Justin Jefferson catches a pass in front of Texas safety Caden Sterns and runs for a touchdown Saturday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Football

No. 6 LSU 45, No. 9 Texas 38: Five key plays

Posted September 8th, 2019

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There were 153 snaps taken in Texas’ 45-38 loss to LSU on Saturday night. Here are five that ended up making a big difference:

1. Fourth-down follies

After LSU struck first with a 36-yard field goal, Texas twice had an opportunity to take a first-quarter lead. Both times, though, Texas was stopped on fourth down near the LSU goal line. From the 2, a wide-open Keaontay Ingram dropped a pass, and from the 1, quarterback Sam Ehlinger was dropped for a loss.

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Last year, Texas was 12-for-15 on its fourth-down tries. That .800 success rate ranked second nationally. During Tom Herman’s first year in Austin, UT was 14-for-30 on fourth down.

The failed fourth downs capped two unsuccessful trips inside the LSU 10. After Texas got a first down at the LSU 8, Ehlinger threw three incomplete passes and ran for 6 yards. After an interception by Joseph Ossai set Texas up at the Tigers’ 4, the Longhorns ran for 2, 1, zero and minus-2 yards. The 1-yarder was by Ehlinger and was initially ruled a touchdown before replay overturned it.

The Texas offense would get better. The Longhorns finished the day with 530 yards.

LSU receiver Justin Jefferson catches a touchdown pass in front of Texas defensive back Josh Thompson on Saturday. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
2. Quick drive

Texas took its only lead of the evening when Brennan Eagles caught a 55-yard touchdown pass with 10:29 left in the second quarter. LSU countered with 10 points over the next nine minutes and was poised to take a 13-7 advantage into halftime. But after killing only 28 seconds on an uneventful last-minute drive, the Longhorns gave the football up with 1:13 remaining.

Tiger quarterback Joe Burrow needed only three snaps — and 26 seconds — to extend his team’s lead. After Ja’Marr Chase got out of bounds on a 19-yard catch, Burrow connected with Justin Jefferson for 18- and 21-yard gains.

Jefferson’s 21-yard touchdown catch made it a 20-7 game at the intermission. Texas has not won a game in which it faced a double-digit deficit at halftime since the 2012 Alamo Bowl.

3. Slow drive

Texas held the LSU offense in check on the second half’s first drive. That set UT up with an opportunity to narrow the deficit. The Longhorns responded with an 86-yard drive that was capped by Ehlinger’s first touchdown run of the season.

The 19-play possession was UT’s longest touchdown drive since a 22-play, 80-yard trek into the end zone against Texas Tech in 2010. Only two of the 19 plays on the methodical possession gained at least 10 yards. Six different Longhorns touched the football on the drive. Sophomore tight end Reese Leitao recorded the first catch of his college career.

4. Third-and-long … touchdown

Texas twice cut LSU’s lead to two points, but the Tigers continually countered with scores. After Cameron Dicker’s field goal pulled UT within 37-31 in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns had the Tigers on the ropes. A sack of Burrow left LSU facing a third-and-17 with 2:38 remaining.

Texas brought a blitz, but Burrow stepped up against a seven-man rush and threw a strike to Jefferson. The LSU receiver had already beaten safety Caden Sterns in coverage. He then evaded an attempted tackle by Sterns and two other UT defensive backs en route to a game-securing 61-yard touchdown.

Texas wide receiver Collin Johnson recovers an onside kick but is ruled out of bounds against LSU on Saturday. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
5. Collin’s close but no cigar

Devin Duvernay caught a 15-yard touchdown toss with 22 seconds left to keep the Longhorns on life support. On the ensuing onside kick, UT senior Collin Johnson was the first to get to Dicker’s 19-yard dribbler. Johnson, however, could not gain control before both he and the football went out of bounds. LSU was given the ball, and the game ended after a kneel-down.

Texas has not recovered an onside kick since Kevin Vaccaro accomplished that task in a 2015 game against Kansas State.

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