Trailing by a point with just over two minutes remaining the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears, the Texas Longhorns had some momentum after two runs by D’Onta Foreman gained 16 yards.
His twin brother, Armanti, had been working towards such a moment, motivated by D’Onta’s success and a lack of attention after he caught only 11 passes in 2015.
On a go route, Foreman adjusted to quarterback Shane Buechele’s throw down the sideline to come back for the football and finish the 38-yard reception to put the ‘Horns on the edge of field goal range for the game-winning kick.
The catch capped a career game for the junior — fourth receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown.
By contrast, Foreman only had 182 yards receiving in the entire 2015 season, leaving him with some soul-searching to do over the offseason amidst a large group of wide receivers.
“Well after last season, I kind of beat myself up a whole lot,” Foreman said on Tuesday. “After the season, in the summer, in the spring, I just worked my butt off. I came back and I told myself I have to play better, I have to do a lot more if I want to be in the conversation of getting playing time or things like that. That motivated me. Me not being talked about, that motivated me.”
So did his brother’s success in a breakout season that Armanti was left well behind in production as questions lingered about his work ethic. D’Onta had used his lack of offers and attention in high school to fuel his practice and study habits, but things had also come much more easily for Armanti, who had more offers and received much more attention in his prep days.
So he took a page out of his brother’s handbook.
“I kind of just fed off my brother. He was getting a lot of hype coming into the season and I wanted to be up there with him. I've always been neck and neck with him when it comes to things like that and I didn't want to be left behind,” he said.
“I thought some people gave up on me and counted me out but I knew what my capabilities were and I knew I had to come out and prove people wrong. I feel like I'm still trying to prove people wrong and just play great football.”
Without a great deal of fanfare, Foreman leads the team in receptions (27) and receiving yards (349). Since Buechele likes the spread the ball around, six other wide outs have 197 yards or more and seven have 10 or more catches.
For most of the season, Foreman has been an underneath threat — he had a 34-yard catch against Cal, but otherwise had not surpassed 30 yards in any other games.
Just seven days before Baylor came to Austin, the 5’11, 205-pounder had a big opportunity to change that when Buechele targeted him on 4th and 16 from the Kansas State 42-yard line trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter.
Foreman beat his man, but had the likely touchdown pass go through his hands. Texas lost by three.
Throughout Baylor game week, Foreman saw the play on loop in his mind, over and over. His teammates also cite his competitiveness as one of his greatest assets, so he focused on using the mistake as even more motivation.
“I just told myself that when I get that opportunity to make that big play again, I’ve got to make it,” he said after the Baylor win.
And so he did.
There was the 40-yard reception for a touchdown in the first half that helped halt Baylor momentum after the opening scoring drive.
From the field: Shane Buechele hits Armanti Foreman deep for the touchdown! #HookEm #40AcresFilms pic.twitter.com/OvaWHxo1lV— UT Sports Video (@40AcresFilms) October 30, 2016
There was the 51-yard catch and run on a skinny post/inside zone run-pass option that was his longest reception since he tantalized fans with his speed on a 71-yard score against TCU in 2014. Against Baylor, the play resulted in a fumble, but it did help set up a safety and another opportunity for redemption.
“Forget about it,” D’Onta told him. “I fumbled the ball too. Just go out there and make up for it.”
And so he did.
There was the game’s biggest catch.
Even though Foreman had fumbled earlier, Buechele continued to put trust in his junior receiver, who came through for what offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert described as a “big-time catch” after the game.
During the untold hours when the Foreman brothers sit together in D’Onta’s room and talk about football and their dreams in the sport and their desire to make an impact, that was the type of moment they discuss.
Despite the mistakes and the slow arrival on the Texas scene as a true playmaker, Armanti finally made some of those dreams a reality, much like his twin brother has been doing for over a year now.
After the game, D’Onta struggled to put into words the pride that he felt in Armanti’s success.
“We talk about these moments all the time so to go out there and do it in a big game like this, it’s a game that we really needed to win and I’m so proud of him.”