Texas Rugby Week 2: Pucker up, Sis.

It was the game-breaker.  Texas' fullback caught a pass and hit a gap at full speed.  Instantly behind the defense, he even had enough time to cut back to the center of the field to score the try right under Tech's posts, setting up an easy conversion to put Texas on top, 12-5.  Tech wasn't done, though, and quickly moved the ball back down the field, then sweeping from the left sideline to the right corner of the end-goal for the try.  It was fine, though.  Tech's kicker had already missed a conversion from an easier angle, not to mention an almost automatic penalty kick earlier in the game, and Texas expected to stay on top by two, hold on for 5 more minutes, and walk off the field with another victory.

Some players, though, have that extra little something that kicks in when the game is on the line, hones your senses, and puts the ball through the posts, in the hoop, over the line, etc.  Players like Ryan Bailey, Acie Law IV, and Texas Tech's place kicker on Saturday.  If you're going to make one kick on the day, you'd better make it that one.  From absolutely the toughest spot on the field, he hooked it through the uprights and, for one fleeting moment, Texas Tech had just beaten Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Then the cheers softened a bit, and it was just Texas vs. Texas Tech tied 12-12 in inch-deep hay on a hot day in Lubbock.  The ball stalled around midfield and the game was over before either team had time to mount a serious attack.  No overtime, no shootout, just a draw.

While Texas had hoped for a win and come very close, they can't be disappointed with taking part in such a well-played game.  Texas scored a try in the left corner of the end-goal early on in the first half and looked to be in control, but Tech's defense stiffened after that, and stopped Texas just short on their only other major penetration of the half, kicking the ball about two-thirds the length of the field to set up their own opportunity.  After a very long and physical goal-line stand, Texas finally conceded the tying try, which would also be the last score of the half.

The second half began with a series of missed opportunities for both sides, struggling to win that last yard or so, but unable to convert due to great defensive effort and Tech's missed penalty kick.  Then Texas scored and Tech answered, and when the ball sailed through the uprights, a tie seemed almost inevitable for these two evenly matched teams.

While it was a great game, the result puts more pressure on Texas to win their remaining three contests if they want to see the playoffs.  SHSU could have helped the Longhorns out tremendously by beating or tying LSU, but time ran out for them six inches short of the tying try, and LSU now sits alone on top of the conference at 2-0-0.

The second side match went much the same as the game against Rice, with each side scoring one try in the first half.  Texas' try came on a pounding drive deep in Tech territory, and the conversion failed, but Tech's try came on a dropped ball that a Tech winger kicked downfield off the ground, then outran Texas' scrum half while he dribbled the ball three times soccer-style, recovering it just before falling down for the try under the posts.  The second half went all Texas' way, as they scored 26 unanswered points behind great play from the back line to go out on top, 31-7.

Next week will be Texas' toughest test:  A road trip to College Station to take on the #8 Aggies.  Texas will need to put together its best game of the year to win this one, and can't afford to give anything but one-hundred percent for the full eighty minutes.  Focusing on defense and eliminating mistakes will be key, and Texas will surely hold some epic practices this week as they prepare for the biggest game of the year.

Even though A&M went down to LSU to open league play, one LSU misstep could have A&M right back in the mix for the conference, and a win for Texas Saturday would keep the Longhorns in control of their own destiny.  Don't expect any stops to be pulled on Saturday as both teams are in a must-win situation.  The Aggies need to win this to keep their shot at the conference title alive, and Texas wants put itself back on the map as the annual Texas conference representative.  Hopefully some of you 'Horns in hiding will turn up for the game, as Texas will need all the help they can get.  Until Friday's preview,

Ruck 'em,
Maul 'em,
Hook 'em, 'Horns!

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