Ehlinger-led final drive helps Texas stave off OU comeback, 48-45

Sam Ehlinger (Will Gallagher/IT)
Sam Ehlinger (Will Gallagher/IT)

Through three-and-a-half quarters, the Red River Shootout was all Texas. The Longhorn offense rolled a Sooner defense, and the Texas defense did well to limit the explosive Oklahoma offense, with Texas holding a two score lead. But with 2:38 left in the game, Kyler Murray and Trey Sermon helped OU tie the game at 45.

After a disappointing finish last year, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger did everything he could to make sure 2018 had a different ending. Bbut after leading a final drive to the Sooner 23 he had to leave everything on the foot of freshman kicker Cameron Dicker. Dicker’s field goal sailed through the uprights with nine seconds remaining, and Texas held on to win 48-45 to improve to 5-1 on the year.

Ehlinger was responsible for five Texas touchdowns, three rushing and two passing, along with 394 total yards. He was 24-of-35 and set a school record today when he recorded his 163rd straight pass without an interception.

“Being part of this tradition in playing in such an incredible rivalry is a blessing and I am reminded of that every year,” Ehlinger said. “It is definitely a game that we have circled every year. It means a lot to us. I still can’t put to words how incredible this rivalry is and being part of it.”

The sophomore improved to 1-1 in Red River Shootouts, but his performance during the final drive cemented himself in to the history of the rivalry. Ehlinger was 3-of-4 for 26 yards with three rushes for 12 yards to get into Dicker’s range.

Dicker then did his own writing of history, sending the ball straight down the middle for the deciding three. Texas’ 48 points is the most it has ever scored in the RRS.

“When they started coming back, I started to think ‘okay, I’m going to kick the game winner,’” Dicker said. “I know I was going to. I felt that, and I was ready to go.”

Playmakers on both teams had big games.

Murray had 396 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, four passing and one rushing. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown had nine catches for 131 yards and two scores, while CeeDee Lamb had six catches for 75 yards and a score.

However, what Texas’ playmakers did outshone those in the crimson and cream.

Junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey had nine catches for 133 yards and a touchdown and even added a passing touchdown from the wildcat formation. Freshman Keaontay Ingram had 13 carries for 86 yards, and junior Collin Johnson had six catches for 81 yards and a score. Senior Tre Watson got into the scoring action with a touchdown reception on a wheel route in the second quarter.

Ehlinger and Humphrey’s plays, though, elevated the team to victory. And unlike Murray who had an interception and a lost fumble, Ehlinger didn’t turn the ball over.

“The guy has played in some big ball games this year and he’s played really well in those games,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said. “I don’t think anybody was surprised to see him do what he did.”

Even in a contest with a game-winning field goal, Herman found his play of the game at the beginning stages of the second half.

Humphrey caught a screen pass on third and 21 early in the third quarter. He stayed on his feet, and several teammates caught up to him to push him in the pile, gaining 19 yards. Ehlinger converted a fourth down, and a few plays later, ran it into the end zone.

“You throw a tunnel screen just to get some yardage for our punt and maybe pin them inside the 10-yard line and play defense,” Herman said. “But LJ Humphrey is one of the toughest guys we have on our football team. After we scored on that series, we said on the headset that’s a culture play.”

Murray and Oklahoma’s two game-tying drives came in the span of 1:57 in the fourth quarter. After a 22-yard punt to the Sooner 33, Murray’s offense took the field. He scrambled 67 yards up the sideline for a touchdown to make it a one-score game with 8:28 left.

Texas’ ensuing drive was derailed by a first down penalty, and the Longhorns punted the ball back to the Sooners with 3:43 remaining.

Murray to Sermon, 35 yards. Sermon rush, 15 yards. Sermon rush, touchdown. The PAT tied the game, and though a good amount of Sooner fans had already made their way to the exits, those that remained were raucous. Until Dicker hit his field goal, that is.

The postgame questions for Herman and several other Longhorns quickly became a search for the answer to the question ‘is Texas back?’

Herman, as he often does, repeated that the only opinions that matter to his team are those of the players and coaches in the locker room.

He reiterated his team would celebrate the win before turning their attention to Baylor next week, and continued to not provide answers to whether his football program was back or not.

Breckyn Hager, however, put it more simply.

“The only thing that’s back is that we’re going back to work for Baylor.”