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Texas-Iowa State notebook: Brennan Eagles has career day, but Horns can’t find him late

Texas coaches clearly saw something they liked about the Iowa State defensive backs. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger was dialing up one deep ball after another Friday.

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Brennan Eagles (13) pulls the ball in for a first down against Iowa State Cyclones defensive end JaQuan Bailey (3) in the first quarter during NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 27, 2020; Austin, Texas, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Nobody benefited more than Brennan Eagles.

Eagles’ best day of the season will be largely forgotten after Texas lost 23-20. But he finished with a new career-high 142 receiving yards on just five catches as Eagles showed his home-run playmaking abilities.

Coming into Friday, Eagles had never caught more than four passes in a game. He had five touchdown grabs this season, including big ones against Oklahoma State and West Virginia. But he never had more than 55 receiving yards in a single game this season.

On UT’s opening drive, Eagles had a 59-yard grab that set up the Horns’ opening field goal. Then, he had an 18-yard catch that moved things along and led to a touchdown, giving Texas a 10-0 lead.

Eagles had a clutch 45-yard grab in the third quarter that set up Jared Wiley’s touchdown. That drive gave the Horns a 20-10 lead.

But in the fourth quarter, Eagles wasn’t targeted at all on the game’s final drive. He wasn’t even on the field at one point. Ehlinger had completions to Cade Brewer, Jordan Whittington and Roschon Johnson but not Eagles.

Ehlinger wound up taking a sack on a critical third down, and Cameron Dicker missed a potential game-tying 58-yard field goal as time expired.

Early missed chances: The Longhorns dominated the stat sheet in the first quarter with 210 total yards, but they were likely lamenting all the missed opportunities. Texas finished the first quarter with 210 yards but only 13 points.

On the opening possession, the offense ultimately reached the Iowa State 1-yard line. But Bijan Robinson got stuffed twice and dropped a third-down pass in the flat. Texas had to settle for a 21-yard field goal.

The Horns cashed in on the next possession when Sam Ehlinger ran around the left end for a 17-yard score. Later, Tarik Black caught a pass down the seam for a 31-yard gain, reaching the Iowa State 20-yard line, and fumbled.

And on UT’s next drive, the Horns got to the 29-yard line and stalled out again. Cameron Dicker doinked a 47-yard field goal attempt off the upright, but Iowa State was called for an illegal formation. Given another chance, Dicker drilled it from 42 yards out.

Cosmi, seniors honored: Texas planned on honoring 17 seniors, but junior left tackle Samuel Cosmi found his way into the lineup, too. Cosmi has long been rumored as someone who would jump into the 2021 NFL draft. He has not been made available to reporters since early September.

It should be noted that junior defensive end Joseph Ossai did not participate in Senior Day activities before the game. Ossai has rocketed up NFL draft boards this season playing in the new hybrid “jack” position.

Whittier statue unveiled: Texas officials unveiled the 12.5-foot tall statue to honor the late Julius Whittier, the first Black letterman in football program history. The 11-foot tall bronze sculpture sits atop an 18-inch granite base. Whittier is depicted looking skyward holding up his UT helmet while wearing jersey No. 67.

The statue is located outside the Texas Athletics Hall of Fame on the north side of Royal-Memorial Stadium. Whittier becomes the third UT player to be immortalized in such fashion, following Heisman Trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.