Longhorns, Ash cap season with thrilling Alamo Bowl win, 31-27

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By Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Magazine Editor
Posted Dec 29, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Mack Brown and wife Sally celebrate the win.

Up and down. Good, bad and certainly, ugly at times. And at the end of all of that, the Texas football team, in a four-quarter microcosm of the 2012 season, clipped Oregon State 31-27 in Saturday's Valero Alamo Bowl.

 

Mack Brown and David Ash - both of whom having spent the season sitting squarely and uncomfortably on a pair of burnt orange hot seats - gave themselves a chance to get at least a little sleep between now and next September with the win Saturday night.

Ash in particular found his mojo just in the nick of time, leading a fourth quarter charge with a pair of touchdown passes to rally the Longhorns after three quarters of relative futility. He was seven of seven in the last two touchdown drives for Texas, and finished 21 of 33 for 241 yards,  with two touchdowns passing and another touchdown on a scintillating 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Did he solve the UT quarterback riddle for 2013? For now, considering that his backup, Case McCoy, was suspended Friday. His fourth quarter makeover came not coincidentally at the same time the Longhorns decided to push the pedal toward the floor with a no-huddle offensive attack.

"We had planned to go more up-tempo in the first half but didn't get a chance to," Brown said of the decision that brought the Texas offense to life late in the game. "At halftime, I said, 'Hey, let's go…' I thought we got them on their heels with the no huddle. It changed the game."

Ash's heroics began with 11:24 remaining in the game and Texas trailing 27-17, with the offense sitting at its own 17-yard-line. Ash used pass catchers Mike Davis (26 yards), Malcolm Brown (seven yards) and Jaxon Shipley (28 yards) to drive the Longhorns down the field, culminating the frenetic drive with what is easily now the signature play of his career: a scrambling-under-heavy-duress-to-his-left-last-second flip to Johnathan Gray on a wheel route for a 15-yard score on 3rd-and-4 to cut the lead to three with 8:18 remaining.

"That was a great play by Ash," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "It was a really, really good football play by Ash."

Ash agreed, sort of.

"At that point, it's just reacting more than anything else," Ash said.

Brown was more effusive about the play.

"It was the kind of play the quarterback has got to make to win games," Brown said. "Really, he hasn't played in four weeks, so I thought he had a great game."

The Beavers responded with nothing offensively, punting the ball back to Texas, and a Quandre Diggs 12-yard punt return set up the Longhorns at the Beavers' 48 yard-line with 4:35 left to play. Three plays later, Texas faced a 4th-and-1 at the OSU 39, and Gray's three-yard Wildcat run kept the drive alive for Texas.

On the next play, receiver Marquise Goodwin - who had scored a touchdown on a 64-yard reverse earlier in the game - broke free of coverage and snared the 36-yard game-winning toss from Ash with 3:06 remaining.

Texas' defense closed out the win four plays later on a 4th-and-14 sack by Kendall Thompson.

In addition to Brown and Ash earning at least a bit of redemption with the win, the beleaguered Texas defense gained at least a bit of respect with a second-half performance that held the Beavers to just seven points. Defensive end Alex Okafor - in his final game as a Longhorn - finished the game with 4.5 sacks; as a team, Texas recorded an hard-to-believe 10 sacks in the game. Mykelle Thompson led the team with 10 tackles, and Peter Jinkins chipped in with eight.

Numbers-wise, Shipley finished the game with eight catches for 88 yards, which Goodwin's numbers were four catches for 68 yards.

And don't forget Alex King, who was Texas' MVP after three quarters: he punted five times for a 45.4-yard average.

On the Beavers' side of things, Pflugerville native Storm Woods rushed 21 times for 122 yards, but had only 22 of those yards in the second half, and recorded not a single yard rushing in the fourth quarter.

Goodwin was the offensive MVP of the game while Okafor earned the defensive MVP honor.

When Applewhite faced the media after the game, he said he had spent "two hours" in one particular setting with freshman quarterback Jalen Overstreet prior to the game, giving a clear indication that Overstreet would've been called upon in the event that Ash had to leave the game.

Applewhite has had his name spoken frequently since the departure of Bryan Harsin, and word on the street was that Applewhite's demeanor at practice had changed in the past month, that he had been more demanding over the course of the last few weeks.

He did little to deny that in the post-game press conference that put a bow on the Texas season.

"These next 8-9 months will be vital for us," Applewhite said. "I know some of these guys were uncomfortable with our practices over the last four weeks, but after all of that, they know that this feels pretty damn good, too."

 

 

 

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