When Texas Tech Red Raiders defender Douglas Coleman ripped the ball away from Texas Longhorns running back D’Onta Foreman at the goal line on Saturday, wide receiver Devin Duvernay was standing across the field at the 5-yard line.
The high school sprinter who once clocked ran a 10.27 100-meter dash took off after Coleman.
“Everybody on the team thought he would catch him,” said head coach Charlie Strong on Monday.
Duvernay is already renowned across the team for his speed — in a stretch of three games against Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Kansas State, the Sachse product recorded touchdowns of 63 yards, 75 yards, and 80 yards, all of which went for touchdowns.
Unquestionably, he’s the fastest Longhorns player, and although wide receiver Jerrod Heard claims he’s the fastest, there’s a reason why Heard’s never actually conceded to a race with Duvernay.
And, in fact, Duvernay did catch Coleman, eventually forcing him out of bounds at the Texas 2-yard line, though officials never watched the end of the play and ruled it a touchdown.
The 14-point swing held the potential to shift momentum firmly in favor of Texas Tech and crater a Texas team that has dealt with more than its fair share of bad luck over the last several years.
Strong believes that Duvernay’s effort helped keep the team in the game.
“I just think that was a turning point because all our players are standing there,” Strong said. “That swing could have been a swing where we could not have recovered from.”
But Duvernay’s full sprint across the field did more than just provide a positive example of the type of effort it was going to take to win the game — it inspired the rest of the team to give that type of effort.
“They watched his effort,” Strong said “Then everybody on the sideline kind of got juiced just looking at his effort, go and try to run the guy down to try to just get the defense back out on the field.”
The Texas offense wasn’t immediately able to respond, going three and out on the next drive. The defense, however, did respond, taking advantage of a false start by a Red Raiders wide receiver to force Texas Tech into 3rd and 15.
As he’s done so many times this season, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes tried to scramble for the first down, but only picked up eight yards.
Given another opportunity, the offense used runs of 19 yards and 30 yards by Kyle Porter to set up the second touchdown pass of the day from Shane Buechele to Collin Johnson.
Another three and out forced by the defense allowed the ‘Horns to mount a field goal drive just before halftime and take a 24-23 lead into the break.
“I told the team that was probably the turning point,” Strong said of Duvernay’s long run. “Everybody on the sidelines is looking at him. Everybody on the sidelines thought, ‘He's going to go catch him.’ To look at his effort, ‘Why don't we all play like that?’”
And so they did.
After the game, Strong had some words for his speedy freshman.
“That was the play right there that helped us win this football game.”