Oklahoma State Game Turning Point

<B>turning point</B> - <I>n.</I> The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

Ray Charles could have seen this one. This was the most obvious turning point all season and at the same time the most bizarre when you consider the momentum had shifted to the Horns and they still trailed by three touchdowns. But that was the second turning point. There were actually two in this game and both came in the first half.

Oddly enough, both happened with under two minutes remaining in each quarter. The first occurred with 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter. After Texas had traveled 46 yards on two plays -- a 19-yard run by Cedric Benson and a 27-yard run by Vincent Young -- the Longhorns looked unstoppable and poised to tie the game at 14. It was downhill from there. On first and 10 from the Oklahoma State 27, Justin Blalock was flagged for a false start. Back it up five yards. On first and 15 from the 32, David Thomas got antsy. Back it up five more. Finally, facing a first and 20 from the 37, Young dropped back and fired into the end zone to Limas Sweed. Unfortunately, Oklahoma State's Daniel McLemore was the only player in position to catch the ball. He did and the Cowboys took over on their own 20.

The Oklahoma State offense promptly capitalized on Young's overthrown pass and went 80 yards on 11 plays to increase their lead 21-7. Thinking they were about to tie the game just minutes before, the Horns suddenly found themselves trailing by 14. And this turning was point wasn't finished.

On the next possession, Young and Co. looked to make amends for the missed golden opportunity of the previous drive. After a Benson run for no gain Young dropped back to pass on second and 10. The pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage into the air and intercepted by the Cowboys' Pagitte McGee. Two passes. Two interceptions. Can you say flashbacks to Colorado and Missouri?

To add insult to injury, the Cowboys offense went 20 yards in two plays to increase their lead, 28-7. To recap, two touchdowns in 1:16. My how things change. Turning point number one was officially over.

Fast forward to 1:18 remaining in the first half and our second turning point. That's not to say nothing happened in between. It did, but it only got worse for the Horns as the Cowboys added yet another score for what appeared to be an insurmountable 35-7 lead.

Staring at a 28-point deficit and just more than a minute to play in the half, the Longhorn offense had no choice but go to the air. A very scary proposition when you consider the previous two attempts were completed, but to players wearing the wrong color of orange. Young looked unfazed by his previous two mistakes. First play, 12-yard screen pass to Benson. Second play, pass in the left flat to David Thomas for 9. Third play, five-yard pass to Limas Sweed and a first down. After the fourth play, a quick pass to Thomas, who dropped it, Benson snuck out of the backfield and Young found him for a quick gain of 10. First down at the OSU 44 with 31 seconds remaining.

The sixth play of the drive was the biggest, at least as far as yardage gained is concerned, and was a precursor of things to come. Young dropped back and fired a strike over the middle to a leaping Bo Scaife who was eventually taken down at the OSU 22. From the 44 to the 22 in just seven seconds. Everything looked so promising for the Horns (6 plays, 58 yards, less than a minute), but the way things had gone for the first 29 minutes, no one would have been surprised if something had gone wrong and the Horns had come up empty handed. They didn't.

On the next play and the most difficult pass of the drive, Young connected with Sweed on a slant route to the OSU 5-yard line with 12 seconds remaining. When the chains were set, Young spiked the ball to stop the clock with nine seconds remaining. Then, on the ninth play of the drive, Young spotted Scaife open in the left flat and flung it to the sixth-year senior. Scaife caught the ball running toward the sideline. His momentum and two OSU defenders tried to take him out of bounds and they did, but not before he outstretched the ball with his right hand over the pylon to complete a spectacular play on an even more spectacular drive. OSU now led 35-14 but momentum was clearly on the side of the Burnt Orange going into halftime.

As they say, the rest is history, including Mack Brown's halftime speech that will forever go down in Longhorn lore as one of the greatest and most prophetic as he told his players that they would end up winning 42-35. He sold his team short but proved that he recognizes a turning point when he sees one.

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