Ehlinger leads No. 12 Texas past Oklahoma State 36-30
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sam Ehlinger did what he usually does: throw for a bunch of touchdowns and deliver big runs. Put him together with more games like this from the Texas defense, and the Longhorns will go far in the Big 12 this season.
Ehlinger passed for four touchdowns for the third time this season, and the No. 12 Longhorns’ defense held Oklahoma State’s big playmakers in check for most of the game to slug out a tough 36-30 victory Saturday night to open the Big 12 schedule.
Texas (3-1, 1-0) ended a four-game losing streak to the Cowboys (3-1, 0-1) and ended a five-game skid in the series in games played in Austin dating to 2010.
To do it, the Longhorns had to overcome three turnovers, including Ehlinger’s first interception of the season, and needed his clock-killing 29-yard run in the final minute to put the game away.
“Once I knew I had the first down and the game was over, it was an incredible feeling,” Ehlinger said. “You say you want to win at home.”
But it was the Texas defense that coach Tom Herman praised.
The Longhorns held Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher coming into the night, to 121 yards on 37 carries and a long run of 13 yards. He scored twice but was also stuffed near the goal on key drives early and late.
Tylan Wallace, who came in tied for the national lead with six touchdown receptions, didn’t find the end zone against the Longhorns and had just two catches in the second half.
“The two guys were really hard to stop, I thought we did an admirable job of it”, Herman said. “That’s about as good as you’re going to do against those two guys. ...We gave up big plays but bowed our backs when our back was against the wall.”″
Hubbard’s second score got the Cowboys within a touchdown with 1:37 to play, but Texas recovered the onside kick. After two short runs, Ehlinger scrambled to his right to get the last first down Texas needed.
Ehlinger finished with 281 yards passing and had three touchdown passes in the second quarter, including a 73-yarder to Brennan Eagles.
Texas’ Keaontay Ingram rushed for 114 yards. His spinning, tackle-breaking 26-yard reception set up a touchdown that gave Texas a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State: Cowboys coach Mike Gundy will face questions about some decisions that cost his team valuable points. Hubbard got stuffed on fourth-and-short inside the Texas 5 in the third quarter. After an interception, Gundy opted for a fake field goal early in the fourth that also got stuffed.
If the Cowboys had let reliable kicker Matt Ammendola kick his fourth and fifth field goals of the game, Oklahoma State would have owned the lead in the fourth quarter and been tied after Hubbard’s late score.
“We kick too many field goals. I’d rather punch it in,” Gundy said. “I’d rather not talk about fakes.”
Texas: As good as the defense was the Longhorns players were limping or being carried off by the end.
A battered secondary lost starting cornerback Jalen Green to a dislocated shoulder when he tried to tackle Hubbard in the first half. Safety Caden Sterns, an All-Big 12 player last season, was limped off the fourth quarter with a knee injury and later left the field on a cart. Herman said he’ll get further tests Sunday.
Texas has an open date next weekend with some time to heal bumps and bruises if not too serious.
“Winning’s hard,” Herman said. “We need this bye week in the worst way to hopefully get some guys healthy.”
HOLDING DOWN HUBBARD
Texas’s speed on the edges chased Hubbard all night and a strong push up the middle disrupted him on short yardage plays. Herman said the game plan was to “squeeze” everything Hubbard ran toward the middle of the field.
“I need to do a better job fighting for those yards, breaking tackles, finding the holes,” Hubbard said.
Texas is likely moving up. The two teams right ahead of the Longhorns, No. 10 Utah and No. 11 Michigan, both lost, and so did No. 7 Notre Dame.
TRICK PLAY TOUCHDOWN
Oklahoma State had just retaken the lead in the third quarter when Texas responded with a trick play touchdown. Ehlinger’s fourth scoring toss of the night came on a play that started with a handoff to Ingram, who pitched it to slot receiver Jake Smith, who pitched it back to Ehlinger.
All that was left was an easy, 25-yard toss to wide open tight end Cade Brewer for a 28-23 Texas lead.
“That was just installed this week,” Ehlinger said.
Oklahoma State hosts Kansas State on Saturday.
Texas has a week off before playing at West Virginia on Oct. 5.