It’s over in Lubbock. No. 19 Texas, with no more wiggle room for its hopes at making the Big 12 championship game, has escaped with a wild 41-34 victory Texas Tech.
Ten years ago, Michael Crabtree broke the Longhorns’ hearts with a last-second touchdown catch.
Tonight, Lil’Jordan Humphrey returned the favor.
This one looked like Texas was on cruise control in the fourth quarter, up 34-17 with 10-and-a-half minutes left in the game. But Tech roared back with 17 unanswered points to tie it up 34-34 with 1:45 left.
Then the Longhorns, with overtime in their back pocket, instead went for the win — getting it on Sam Ehlinger’s gutsy 50/50 pass to a well-covered Humphrey for a 29-yard score with 23 seconds to go.
“At the end of the day, offensively you learn as a young coach: Think players, not plays, at critical moments,” Texas coach Tom Herman said immediately afterward.
As expected, Tech went without quarterback Alan Bowman, who was hospitalized last Saturday night after the loss to Oklahoma with problems from a collapsed lung injury. Jett Duffey, the redshirt freshman who looked electric against the Sooners, sure looked like a redshirt freshman against the Longhorns. He committed three key turnovers, all in the red zone, one at the goal line.
How it ended
Things looked comfortable in the fourth until Tech made it interesting with a long scoring bomb, a surprise onside kick play, staying alive on an instant replay fumble ruling and another touchdown pass. Suddenly, what had been a 34-17 Longhorns lead was a 34-27 game with less than five minutes left.
The Horns, needing to string together a couple of first downs, instead went three and out and punted it back with 3:09 left.
Duffey hit Antoine Wesley — who was well-covered by Kris Boyd — for a 47-yard strike downfield. Then he hit Seth Collins for 12. Now at Texas’ 23, Duffey found Ja’Deion High for 14 yards to Texas’ 9.
On the next play, Wesley scored with 1:45 left.
The Longhorns took over at their own 25. Ehlinger evaded what would’ve been his sixth sack for a short 3-yard gain. Then he kept it for 18 yards to the 46, with 1:15 to go. Jerrod Heard made a nice 11-yard grab for a first down at Tech’s 41 with 56 seconds left.
Ehlinger threw incomplete to Humphrey on first down. But then he scrambled for a weaving 12-yard gain, and while it looked like maybe Cameron Dicker would be asked to decide it, Ehlinger went for the touchdown to Humphrey, who high-pointed the ball at the 3 and then tip-toed in for the game winner.
The players of the game
Humphrey on offense. Davante Davis on defense.
Their impacts tonight were huge. Texas had announced earlier in the day that starting wide receiver Collin Johnson and starting safety Brandon Jones would miss the game. Humphrey moved to the outside and responded with a big night — 8 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns. He was clutch. And Davis made two important plays — intercepting an ill-advised Jett Duffey pass at the goal line, a play which jump-started the defense, and then a strip-and-fumble recovery on a Duffey keeper on the sideline in the third quarter.
What this win means
1. The two teams that will play in the Big 12 title game are going to come from the four that are bunched at the top of the conference standings, all separated by one game. Oklahoma (6-1) and West Virginia (6-1) will play each other the day after Thanksgiving. Texas (5-2) and Iowa State (5-2) play next Saturday in Austin.
The Sooners came thiiis close to stubbing their toe on Saturday. They escaped Oklahoma State in Norman, 48-47. The Mountaineers cruised past TCU 47-10.
Iowa State will be without star running back David Montgomery for the first half. He was ejected in the second half today in the win over Baylor.
2. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Texas.
3. The Horns are 7-3. It’s the Longhorns’ best record through 10 games since 2012, when Texas was 8-2.
Fourth downs were huge tonight. For Texas.
The two teams combined to go for it on fourth down four times. The Longhorns won the fourth down battle and subsequently the war. Texas won three of those four fourth downs:
Second quarter: Tom Herman rolled the dice on fourth-and-4 from Tech’s 43-yard line with 9:25 left in the first half. Ehlinger threw a very well-placed pass to a well-covered Andrew Beck streaking across the middle. That gamble paid off when Ehlinger finished the drive by placing another nice throw to Humphrey in the end zone — he had five catches for 90 yards and the score to that point.
Second quarter: On Texas Tech’s ensuing drive, Kliff Kingsbury went for his second fourth down of the night. The Raiders were stuffed on fourth-and-1 at their own 34, giving Texas a short field that Keonaty Ingram converted into a touchdown.
Third quarter: Texas’ opening drive of the second half was humming — until it reached Tech’s 2-yard line. Tre Watson gained one yard on first down, then was stuffed for no gain on second. Ehlinger was stuffed for no gain on third and so Texas, up 17-10, went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
Texas lined up in the power formation with Ehlinger in the shotgun, Andrew Beck as an H-back and Daniel Young in the backfield. Ehlinger faked the handoff to Young and zipped it to Devin Duvernay on the side of the end zone.
First quarter (Texas Tech 7, Texas 0)
Texas Tech: T.J. Vasher 5-yard pass from Jett Duffey (Clayton Hatfield kick, 10:48)
Second quarter (Halftime — Texas 17, Texas Tech 7)
Texas: Cameron Dicker 52-yard field goal
Texas: Humphrey 9-yard pass from Sam Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 3:46)
Texas: Ingram 2-yard run (Dicker kick, 1:16)
Texas Tech: Hatfield 41-yard field goal, :07
Third quarter (Texas 27, Texas Tech 10)
Texas: Devin Duvernay 1-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 10:17)
Texas: Dicker 46-yard field goal, 1:57
Fourth quarter (Final — Texas 41, Texas Tech 34)
Texas Tech: Antoine Wesley 57-yard pass from Duffey (Hatfield kick, 13:26)
Texas: Duvernay 39-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 10:26)
Texas Tech: Hatfield 36-yard field goal, 6:23
Texas Tech: Vasher 2-yard pass from Duffey (Hatfield kick, 4:47)
Texas: Humphrey 29-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, :23)
- Dicker’s 52-yard field goal in the second quarter was the third-longest for a Texas freshman. He added a 46-yarder in the third quarter and made a big tackle on the ensuing kickoff.
- Ehlinger broke Geno Smith’s Big 12 record for consecutive passes without an interception. Ehlinger has now thrown 280 straight without a pick, going back to UT’s final play of the season opener at Maryland.
- Humphrey now owns the three best receiving games for Texas this season. He had 159 yards tonight, 143 yards last week against West Virginia and 133 against Oklahoma.
- Caden Sterns looked wobbly after a huge collision with with Tre King in the third quarter. He didn’t come back.
- Two plays after Sterns left, Kris Boyd stripped Duffey on the sideline. Then also was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for throwing the ball at the Texas Tech quarterback. Never mind that Duffey had kicked Sterns in the head on the play.
- Keontay Ingram was shaken up in the fourth quarter when he took a helmet to the ribs. After the game, though, Tom Herman said it was a hip injury.
- Duvernay’s 1-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was a rarity. He had averaged 61 yards per touchdown catch for his career.
- There were three plays reviewed for targeting, two by Tech’s Riko Jeffers and one by Texas’ Anthony Wheeler. All were ruled not penalties.
Up next for Texas
The Longhorns (7-3, 5-2) host Iowa State (6-3, 5-2) at 7 p.m. next Saturday. It’s a Longhorn Network game.
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