STILLWATER, Okla. — In 2011, Texas's inability to throw the ball cost the Longhorns dearly in a 38-26 loss to Oklahoma State. And Saturday, the Longhorns showed just how far they've come, driving the length of the field to score a 41-36 comeback victory over those same Cowboys.
"In the past, we probably would have lost these games," said defensive end Alex Okafor. "We're not perfect right now. We're not even close to being where we want to be at. But as long as we can keep going out there and fighting every down, and finding a way to win, that's what we want."
Twice in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma State scored to take the lead and seemingly control of the game. And both times the Longhorns were able to respond. When Cowboy running back Joseph Randle burst in from two-yards out with 9:36 left, it marked the Cowboys' first lead since early in the first quarter.
But the Longhorns got physical, pounding out runs of 15, 19, 8, 6, 3 and 13 yards before running back Joe Bergeron found the end zone from one-yard out, retaking the lead at 34-33 after a two-point conversion attempt fell flat.
Cowboy quarterback J.W. Walsh hit Blake Jackson for a 26-yard gain, then Randle ripped off runs of 14 and 12 yards, setting Oklahoma State up with a first-and-10 from the Texas 13. But the Cowboys went conservative, running three times, and the Longhorns held fast for a Quinn Sharp field goal. That put Oklahoma State up 36-34 with just 2:34 left.
After an incompletion, quarterback David Ash was tackled for no gain. A pass to Jeremy Hills netted just four yards, meaning Texas had a fourth-and-six from its own 29. But on a night that Ash saw a ton of success, the sophomore quarterback fired a pass to tight end D.J. Grant for 29 yards and a first down.
"Give David credit: he will not be under anymore pressure than this," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "He couldn't have done this at the same time last year. He has really grown up. He's the leader of this football team. The throw to D.J. Grant was unbelievable."
Two plays later, Ash threw a jump ball that receiver Mike Davis came down with for a 32-yard gain to the Oklahoma State five. Bergeron rushed forward for three, then dove in with 29 seconds left. Bergeron appeared to fumble the ball on his way in, but the referees ruled that no clear possession of the fumble could be determined, and Texas had its final result.
"A righteous man falls down seven times and gets back up seven times," Ash said. "I think it showed that we have some resilience and that we've got some fight inside of us and we aren't going to lay down ever. That's probably what I'm most proud of: guys giving everything they have. If we had lost that game, I'd still be proud of those guys because we battled, and we battled hard against a great team."
Oklahoma State kicked the scoring off with a 69-yard Randle run before Ash connected with receiver Jaxon Shipley for a pair of scores. After that, it was back-and-forth, with the two teams combining to score 35 points in the opening quarter.
Ash finished 30-of-37 for 304 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. All three of those scores went to Shipley, who finished with five catches for 82 yards and three touchdowns. True freshman Johnathan Gray rushed 12 times for 68 yards, leading the Longhorns in rushing on a day that Malcolm Brown received just three carries for seven yards. After the game, Mack Brown said that Malcolm sprained his ankle on his first carry. D.J. Monroe kicked in a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown.
"You've got to enjoy and understand what this was," said offensive guard Mason Walters. "This was a team that hasn't been able to, for some reason, achieve that success. Tonight we had a tough game, they had the home crowd, it was really loud, we were able to stay the course through the game and get the win. I think that's why it was such a big game. You just got to see a lot of people mature tonight."
Randle led the Oklahoma State effort with 211 total yards — 199 rushing and 12 receiving — and two touchdowns. Walsh passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 57 more yards. His top receivers were Tracy Moore (6-93) and Josh Stewart (5-81).
Oklahoma State — Joseph Randle 69 run (Quinn Sharp kick), 14:21 1Q
TEXAS — Jaxon Shipley 44 pass from David Ash (Nick Jordan kick), 9:10 1Q
TEXAS — Shipley 20 pass from Ash (Jordan kick), 7:31 1Q
Oklahoma State — Josh Stewart 44 pass from J.W. Walsh (Sharp kick), 2:00 1Q
TEXAS — D.J. Monroe 100 kickoff return (Jordan kick), 1:47 1Q
Oklahoma State — Sharp 23 FG, 12:34 2Q
Oklahoma State — Sharp 38 FG, 6:52 3Q
TEXAS — Shipley 7 pass from Ash (Jordan kick), 0:43 3Q
Oklahoma State — John Goodlett 20 pass from Walsh (pass failed), 0:19 3Q
Oklahoma State — Randle 2 run (Sharp kick), 9:36 4Q
TEXAS — Joe Bergeron 1 run (pass failed), 5:48 4Q
Oklahoma State — Sharp 24 FG, 2:34 4Q
TEXAS — Bergeron 2 run (Jordan kick), 0:29 4Q