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Texas stifles Iowa State for 24-10 victory on Senior Night

For the 26 Longhorns who played for a final time at home, it was a sweet night. For the Cyclones, it was not.

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Well now, that was right Purdy.

For the second straight season, Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando completely rattled an Iowa State Cyclones quarterback as the Horns won on Senior Night for only the second time in the last nine seasons with a 24-10 victory on Saturday evening at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

After Iowa State punted in the fourth quarter with Texas holding a 24-3 margin, fans lit up the night with their cell phone flashlights and sang along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

The swarming defense had just sacked Iowa State freshman quarterback Brock Purdy two times on the previous drive. Overall, Orlando was able to dial up pressures that produced six sacks and numerous other quarterback hurries, aided by a secondary that covered better than it has in weeks.

Purdy finished the game 10-of-23 passing for 130 yards and an interception, marking the first time that the breakout sensation has looked like a true freshman this season.

The Iowa State offense struggled so much that it didn’t even enter the red zone until a 47-yard punt return by Tarique Milton late in the fourth quarter when the game was no longer in doubt.

The lack of star running back David Montgomery in the first half helped Texas, as Orlando was able to achieve one of his major goals — making the opponent one dimensional. In the first half, 24 of the 53 Cyclones rushing yards came on a single run. When the Horns pushed the lead to 21 points late in the third quarter, the deficit rendered Montgomery’s presence irrelevant, even though he scored a touchdown with 1:33 remaining.

Fortunately for Texas, senior tight end Andrew Beck was able to recover the ensuing onside kick to ensure that there wouldn’t be any drama late in the game.

That was the initial impression, at least, until sophomore running back Daniel Young fumbled it on the next play, keeping Cyclones hopes alive, at least for a few moments.

And then freshman B-backer Joseph Ossai sacked Kyle Kempt on after two incomplete passes and forced a fumble recovered by senior defensive end Charles Omenihu. A fitting end to the game.

In the first half, Texas had a performance that was close to dominant, with the exception of two drives into the red zone that only produced three points. The second was shortened by the half, as the Horns might have gone for the 4th and 1 from the Iowa State 5-yard line with more time remaining. The first resulted in a missed 28-yard field goal by freshman kicker Cameron Dicker following an interception of Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy.

The second stop by the Cyclones also came with a cost for the Longhorns, as sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger took a big hit to his injured right shoulder on a third-down scramble, which forced him to leave the sideline and head into the locker room before his teammates.

The Horns ended the first half with a 17-3 because the offense controlled the football, possessing the ball for more than 18 minutes — when the Texas attack has been the most successful this season, it’s been a result of long, grinding drives.

Ehlinger was efficient through the air, completing 12-of-15 passes for 137 yards and hitting junior wide receivers Collin Johnson and Lil’Humphrey for important third-down conversions. Against an Iowa State defense that often dropped eight in coverage, Ehlinger also did an excellent job of checking down to his running backs, including a 19-yard touchdown to freshman Keaontay Ingram.

The offensive line was also able to open some big holes, including for Ehlinger, who ran for a touchdown. The running backs were the primary beneficiaries, as Ingram and graduate transfer Tre Watson combined for 107 yards on only 15 yards, with Watson finally breaking through for the longest run of the season when he gashed Iowa State for 39 yards up the middle.

With Ehlinger sidelined due to his re-injured shoulder — though he did apparently lobby head coach Tom Herman to return — junior Shane Buechele looked more sharp than he did against Baylor, his only other appearance of the season. Buechele finished 10-of-10 passing for 89 yards and a touchdown.

And so while the offense overall wasn’t as sharp in the second half, it did produce an eight-play, 69-yard drive late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Humphrey capped it with a sensational 27-yard catch and run.

By that point, Humphrey had gained 56 yards after the catch, while throwing in a bobbled catch near the sidelines earlier on that drive for good measure.

So, after Texas hung on by avoiding another blown lead in the fourth quarter, the victory became arguably the most complete victory of the season after playing eight games decided by seven points or fewer.

Now the Longhorns can continue believing in a Big 12 title appearance, as Oklahoma State’s victory over West Virginia just before Texas kicked off against Iowa State means that a victory in Lawrence against Kansas next week would punch a ticket to Jerry World in December.