Friday’s showdown in Austin between Texas and Texas Tech, dubbed The Battle For The Chancellor’s Spurs, appeared at first like it would continue the trend of the home squad leaving a loser. Spurred by the play of quarterback Sam Ehlinger and an improving defense, however, the Longhorns rallied to come away with the win on senior day.
For much of the first quarter, the momentum was with the Red Raiders, as they marched the ball down the field through the air twice to go up 14-0. The Texas offense looked dormant on their first couple of drives, but a combination of Ehlinger hitting big passes and running on the ground gave the Longhorns a score.
That drive seem to ignite the offense for the Longhorns, as it was a part of a 28-7 first half run by the Longhorns, who kept making big plays in the passing game. Texas seemed to also begin settling down as the half wore on, holding the Red Raiders to two three-and-outs and recovering a fumble.
After halftime, those trends continued, as the Longhorns scored on their first two drives and held the Red Raiders to a field goal to make it 42-24 contest heading into the fourth quarter. The three possession lead would be too much for the Red Raiders to overcome, and a recovered SaRodorick Thompson fumble would set Texas up at the Texas Tech 24 yard line.
The subsequent score for the Longhorns, a Roschon Johnson run from one yard out, would basically seal the contest in favor of the home team.
Key plays of the Game
4:14 1st [UT 2nd & 15 at UT 20] – Late in the first quarter, with Texas Tech up two scores, Texas found themselves deep in their own territory with a long down-and-distance. Ehlinger found Malcolm Epps for 36 yards, an explosive play that seemed to create momentum for the entire offense.
14:46 3rd [ISU 2nd & 8 at TTU 36] – This 33-yard pass to Duvernay featured an amazing catch by the senior, and ended up setting Texas up for the go-ahead score after the catch put the Longhorns on the 3 yard line of Texas Tech. The ensuing two-point conversion tied the game up at 14-14.
8:52 3rd [UT 2nd & 10 at TTU 26] – .
Key Stats of the Game
9 Penalties – Despite playing well overall, the Longhorns were hurt by penalties that continued to plague them all day. Texas ended with 100 yards in penalties, something they obviously need to continue working on.
5.5 Yards Per Rush – Texas is officially 7-1 when they average 4.8 yards per rush or more in 2019. The ability of the Longhorns to move the ball on the ground was a key to this game, and along with Ehlinger’s efforts, the offense was able to extend its lead once the ground game really picked up.
1-of-4 On 4th Down – The Red Raiders opted to be aggressive on fourth down in this game, and it ultimately probably hurt them. They ended up converting only one of those tries, giving the ball back to Ehlinger and the offense. While not flawless, the Texas defense was able to step up in those situations and get off the field.
Key Players of the Game
Sam Ehlinger – 19/27, 348 yards passing, 2 TDs, 105 yards rushing
Devin Duvernay – 6 rec, 199 yards, 1 TD
Chris Brown – 9 total tackles
The Defense Has Improved – It’s hard to find much fault with a Texas defense that held Texas Tech five points under their season average and came away with two turnovers on the day. The rush defense definitely stepped up, allowing the Red Raiders to gain only 71 yards. Problems they’ve had all season with coverage and getting to the quarterback were still present in Royal Memorial Stadium, but the Longhorns defense that took the field Friday was a definite improvement over last season.
Duvernay Will Be Missed – One of the highest priorities for Texas entering the offseason will be replacing the senior wide receiver, whose 1,294 yards receiving is the most by a Longhorns receiver since Jordan Shipley put up almost 1,500 in 2009. Players like Malcolm Epps, Brennan Eagles, and Jake Smith showed that they have that potential, but they will have to step up over the off-season.