Writer: Lucas Garza
Texas @ Southern California Recap 9/16/2017
In the their first meeting since the dramatic 2005 BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl, the hype was fulfilled in this Texas vs. SC battle. After shutting out San Jose State the week before, the Texas defense continued their great form against the trojans from Southern California. The Texas defense showed up in a big way, first by forcing SC to turnover the ball on downs on their first two possessions. The Longhorns forced a punt on the Trojans’ next possession, and Freshman walk-on, Chase McGrath, missed a 46-yard field goal attempt on SC’s next series. Texas held the Trojans’ offense scoreless until highly touted QB Sam Darnold was able to find Deontay Burnett diving to the ground in the back of the endzone.
The Texas offense in the first half was nowhere near as solid as their defense was. OL Connor Williams was injured early in the game, and was not able to return. Freshman QB Sam Ehlinger got his second consecutive start, and his first on the road. On Texas’ first offensive play of the game, Ehlinger found 6’6” WR Collin Johnson for a 48 yard, that took the Longhorns into the redzone quickly. In a 4th and 2 situation, Coach Herman decided to go for it, only to have Ehlinger wrapped up quickly for a loss of three yards and the ball. On the next Texas series, Ehlinger under threw Devin Duvernay, and the ball was intercepted near the sideline by Jack Jones. On a miscommunication with the offensive line, the snapped was fumbled on the next offensive possession by the Longhorns, and questions that the QB position for Texas loomed. After trading multiple punts with SC in the second quarter, it was clear that the Texas offense did not have any reliable game plan. RB’s Chris Warren and Kyle Porter both were not able to break off any tacklers are find any gaps in the offensive line. Ehlinger was moving slow in the pocket, and could not find any open receivers.
It seemed as Texas would have all the momentum heading into the locker room at halftime after DeShon Elliott intercepted Darnold’s pass that was broken up by P.J. Locke, and returned to the endzone for a touchdown. This was Texas’ fifth non-offensive touchdown of the season. SC got the ball left with just under 20 seconds left in the half, and Ronald Jones took a short pass from Sam Darnold for 56-yard touchdown after nearly ever Texas defender fell down chasing Jones. SC led Texas 14-7 at the half.
A productive Texas drive at the beginning of the 3rd quarter led to a 39-yard field goal made by Joshua Rowland, his first make of the season after missing his first three attempts. A great defensive display by both teams for the rest of the quarter forced six straight punts or turnover on downs combined. Texas DB DeShon intercepted another pass, and put the Longhorn’s at the Trojan’s own 25-yard line. On a 2nd and 10 from the 13-yard line, Ehlinger threw an interception after a Trojan defender grabbed and pulled on Ehlinger’s chin strap. The entire Texas sideline was pleading for a facemask call, but no flag was thrown. The Texas defense was able to force a punt near midfield, and the Longhorns would begin their drive at their own 9-yard line, with 4:29 left in the game. After a false start penalty and a loss of yards, Texas converted on 2nd and 17 on a 17-yard pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey. On a crucial 4th and 1 with just under three minutes to play, Sam Ehlinger powered through for a 2-yard gain and the first down. A couple plays later, Ehlinger found Collin Johnson once again for 47-yard pick up, putting the Longhorns in Trojan territory. After three straight incompletions, Texas faced a 4th and 10 from the SC 28-yard line and 1:19 to play. Ehlinger connected on an 11-yard pass to Armanti Foreman for the first down. An incomplete pass on the next play stopped the clock. Then, on a broken down play, Ehlinger found Foreman on the right side of the endzone, and Foreman was able to put his feet down and score the game winning touchdown for Texas. Texas had beat Southern Cal in dramatic fashion once again! Or so everyone at the University of Texas thought.
SC got the ball with 45 seconds left on the clock, and after three completions, they made their way to the Texas 13-yard line. Chase McGrath stepped onto the field for the second time with just 2 seconds left, and was not fazed by the situation. He put 31-yard field goal attempt right down the center of the uprights, forcing overtime at a score of 17-17.
The Trojans started with the ball in overtime, and scored on the first play after Darnold and Burnett connected in the endzone once again. This forced Texas to have to score a touchdown and tack on tack on the extra point as well to force another overtime period. A holding penalty moved the Longhorns back to the 35-yard line, but Ehlinger found Collin Johnson for a 21-yard gain, and connected with Lorenzo Joe for a 11-yard gain on the next play, putting the offense at the 3-yard line. On the next play the Ehlinger connected with the freshman TE from Lake Travis, Cade Brewer, in the end zone, bringing Westlake and Lake Travis together for a brief moment. Texas had forced 2OT.
Ehlinger was sacked on the Longhorns’ first play of 2OT, but consecutive completions to Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and Chris Warren combined for a total of 22 yards. Ehlinger kept the ball himself and carried it for 8 yards to the SC 3-yard line. Ehlinger fumbled the next snap, Kyle Porter was not able to fall on top of the ball, and SC recovered the fumble. The Texas defense forced a 4th and 9, and the freshman, walk-on kicker came onto the field with the weight of the game on his shoulders again. McGrath made the 43-yard field goal, and Southern California beat Texas 27-24.