Ehlinger’s TD pass helps Texas beat No. 6 Oklahoma St. in OT
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Joshua Moore didn’t have a catch in regulation.
Sam Ehlinger didn’t care. His 15-yard touchdown pass to Moore in overtime helped Texas knock off previously unbeaten and sixth-ranked Oklahoma State 41-34 on Saturday.
Moore was Texas’ leader in catches and receiving yards and touchdowns heading into the game, so Ehlinger was confident that he would come through. Moore’s only reception gave the Longhorns the lead for good.
“Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, regardless of when that is and regardless of what’s happened earlier in the game,” Ehlinger said. “He did a great job.”
Texas linebacker Joseph Ossai sealed the victory by sacking Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders on fourth down in overtime. Ossai finished with 12 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble.
Oklahoma State (4-1, 3-1 Big 12) outgained Texas 530 yards to 287, but the Cowboys turned the ball over four times and saw their hopes to reach the College Football Playoff take a major blow.
Same goes for the entire Big 12.
After Kansas State’s loss at West Virginia earlier in the day, Oklahoma State entered the game as the only remaining unbeaten team in Big 12 play. Now, the race is jumbled and Texas (4-2, 3-2) is back in the picture to possibly play in the conference championship game.
Sanders passed for career highs of 400 yards and four touchdowns, but he fumbled twice and threw an interception — turnovers that led to 13 Texas points.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said the defense, which entered the game as one of the nation’s best, was solid given the circumstances.
“We put them in terrible positions time after time, and they rallied a few times and held them to field goals,” Gundy said. “I’m going to say they played well, we just can’t put them in that position that many times, particularly against a quarterback like Sam Ehlinger.”
Tylan Wallace caught 11 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns for Oklahoma State. Chuba Hubbard, one of the nation’s leading rushers, was held to 72 yards on 25 carries.
Oklahoma State drove into Texas territory late in the first half with a 24-17 lead, but Ossai stripped him and Texas defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham recovered and returned the ball to the Oklahoma State 20. The Longhorns got just a field goal out of it, and Oklahoma State took a 24-20 lead into the break.
Sanders threw his fourth touchdown pass -- a 9-yard toss to a well-covered Wallace -- to give Oklahoma State a 31-20 lead. Texas’ D’Shawn Jamison returned the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Texas missed the extra point, and Oklahoma State’s lead was 31-26 midway through the third quarter.
Texas appeared to be stopped on its side of the field in the fourth quarter, but a roughing the punter call against Oklahoma State extended the drive. On fourth-and-7 at the Oklahoma State 12, Ehlinger rolled away from pressure and found Jake Smith for the touchdown. Ehlinger connected with Cade Brewer for the 2-point conversion to put the Longhorns up 34-31 with 4:27 remaining.
Oklahoma State got a final shot in regulation, getting the ball back with 1:13 remaining and no timeouts. Sanders completed 4 of 4 passes for 62 yards to put the Cowboys in field goal range, then Alex Hale hit a 34-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining to tie the score and force overtime.
“We lost the turnover battle four to zero, and we got a kick returned on us for a touchdown,” Gundy said. “You have to give Texas credit. They made the plays in the end to win the game, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
Oklahoma State likely will take a steep drop after this loss at home. Texas could find itself back in the Top 25.
Texas: The Longhorns finally caught some breaks late in a close game — things didn’t go well late in losses to TCU and Oklahoma, but now they have won two straight to take some of the heat off coach Tom Herman.
“I’d much rather it be this way than the other way, than to get blown out or lose by a bunch because you’ve got guys who aren’t playing hard or guys who are checking it in when you get down by 11 or whatever,” Herman said. “We have none of that on this team.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys dominated nearly every facet of the game and beat themselves with mistakes.
It was Texas’ third overtime game of the season.
Texas opened conference play with a 63-56 win over Texas Tech in overtime and lost 53-45 to Oklahoma in four overtimes.
“We’re just confident in the moment because we know we’ve been there before,” Ehlinger said.
Ossai played with an injured shoulder that hurt so bad he didn’t practice on Tuesday. He started Saturday’s game with a brace before removing it.
“He’s the undisputed leader on that side of the football,” Herman said. “If you want to learn why Joseph Ossai plays the way he plays, come watch practice. Come watch practice. This is a dude that literally has two speeds – off and full. That’s it. He is full most of the time.”
Texas hosts West Virginia on Saturday.
Oklahoma State visits Kansas State on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.