The Texas Longhorns are back on the national stage in a huge way after a dive by senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes into the end zone on yet another tough run from six yards out to cap an incredible game between the 'Horns and Notre Dame Fighting Irish that went into two overtimes at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Runs by Foreman, Buechele, and Swoopes picked up another set of downs on the crucial drive after a thrilling regulation and start of overtime.
In the first extra period, Texas scored on another short Swoopes run after a 20-yard pass from Buechele to senior wide receiver Jacorey Warrick put the 'Horns near the goal line. A screen call from Notre Dame on the first play of the Fighting Irish possession forced a second overtime before Texas held strong in allowing only three yards before forcing a field goal.
The late fireworks from the 'Horns closed out a game that looked set to turn in favor of Texas early in the third quarter, but then went strongly in favor of Notre Dame for some time.
To open the second half, it took only two plays for freshman quarterback Buechele to hit Burt with a 72-yard touchdown pass. This time, Burt didn't drop the ball after doing so earlier in the game:
For a moment, it looked like the 'Horns might run away with the game after three defensive penalties by the Fighting Irish helped Texas enter the Notre Dame red zone. However, two stuffed runs and an incomplete pass when it appeared that Buechele might have a running lane into the end zone from eight yards out ultimately resulted in a field goal.
Notre Dame took advantage, needing only four plays to score with a DeShone Kizer touchdown run and then further consolidating momentum when inside pressure forced Buechele into a high throw on third down that was intercepted by Shaun Crawford, which was returned to the Texas 6-yard line. On third down, Kizer scrambled and threw a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Torii Hunter, Jr. in the corner of the end zone.
On the ensuing possession, Texas was unable to get anything going and more strong play from Kizer helped Notre Dame get in to the red zone once again. A trick play misfired when Hunter, Jr. took a handoff on a sweep and tried a throwback pass to an open Kizer that was off to mark. On 3rd and 12, Kizer targeted Hunter, Jr. in the end zone, but a big hit from sophomore safety DeShon Elliott knocked the football loose and left Hunter, Jr. down for several minutes.
The officials never reviewed the play and junior defensive end Naashon Hughes deflected the field goal attempt, which went wide right to help the Longhorns maintain the lead.
After a third straight three and out by Texas without the services of D'Onta Foreman, who didn't receive a single carry in the for three drives in the second half, Notre Dame scored once again on a drive extended by a holding penalty on cornerback Antwuan Davis. The play initially appeared to be a drive-ending sack of Kizer.
On another third down, Kizer was able to hit running back Josh Adams with a point-perfect pass to Josh Adams to beat a Longhorns blitz when linebacker Anthony Wheeler wasn't able to knock the ball away at the last second.
Texas finally picked up another first down, then destroyed the drive with an illegal formation penalty and a poor snap that forced Buechele to fall on the football and take a 16-yard loss.
Another third-down conversion by the Irish kept the ensuing drive going for an extra set of downs, but the 'Horns were able to stop a called draw by Kizer to force a punt on 4th and 1 near midfield, a decision by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly that the Texas defense certainly appreciated.
With Buechele in the spotlight in his first big moment at Texas, he answered the call, picking up a first down with a 10-yard run and completing three passes before Foreman broke a tackle and raced 19 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
The lead lasted only seconds -- some confusion on the part of the extra-point unit resulted in a low kick that was blocked and return to tie the game.
By the end of the regulation, the game stats were remarkable:
ND-Texas: We've had 883 yards, 74 points, 14 qb changes, 19 total penalties, a defensive two-pointer, a blocked FG. What a game! #horns— Steve Habel (@stevehabel) September 5, 2016
The first half was a big success for Texas in not letting the game slip away after an early score from Notre Dame -- ultimately, it was the first game that the 'Horns won under Strong without scoring first.
A 54-yard run by Notre Dame’s Tarean Folston sparked the first drive of the game due to a missed tackle by junior Fox end Naashon Hughes. Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown then finished it with a 13-yard touchdown pass on a fade route when cornerback Davante Davis was unable to get his head around in pass coverage.
And then Texas responded.
With freshman quarterback Shane Buechele taking the first snap for Texas, strong running by D’Onta Foreman and several completions to wide receiver John Burt set up a gorgeous 19-yard touchdown reception by Armanti Foreman on a perfect touch pass and catch:
The next five drives all resulted in punts for the two teams before the 18-Wheeler package with Tyrone Swoopes led an 11-play, 88-yard drive that took 5:13 off the clock. Two big third-down conversions by wide receiver Jake Oliver helped keep the drive alive — the second and third career catches for the fourth-year player.
Notre Dame responded by using a 3rd-and-13 conversion following a holding penalty to capitalize with a 30-yard touchdown pass from DeShone Kizer to St. Brown. By that point, it was clear that Kizer was the better option for the Fighting Irish, so look for him to play most of the second half.
With one more opportunity looming before halftime, Buechele threw another impressive touch pass, this time to former quarterback Jerrod Heard for a 68-yard gain that took the ball right down to the goal line:
It took three plays for the LOnghorns to score from the one-yard line, but an outside run by Swoopes helped provide the final margin before halftime.
During the first half, Buechele lived up to the substantial offseason hype with the two big passes and another throw by Burt that was dropped early in the game. All told, the freshman went 9-of-13 for 145 yards and a touchdown in his debut half while aided by 31 yards and a touchdown on seven carries from Swoopes.
This is your second-half open thread.