There was a point near the midway mark of the second quarter in which the the game swung dramatically for the Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Then came a resilient bunch of ‘Horns to set the theme for what became the first Texas road victory of the season.
With over eight minutes to play before intermission, the ‘Horns were trailing 16-14 after driving nearly the length of the field from the Texas 1-yard line to Texas Tech’s 9-yard line.
At last, the offensive wrinkle many hoped to see from the 18-Wheeler package came during a fake run to leave tight end Caleb Bluiett wide open for the go-ahead touchdown reception, had it not been for a chop block penalty on Kent Perkins. Three plays later, faced with a 3rd and goal from the 24-yard line, D’Onta Foreman nearly carried the entire Red Raider defense into the end zone before this happened:
What. Just. Happened.— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 5, 2016
Unbelievable. Touchdown @TexasTechFB! https://t.co/DqQbJ4UlKt
What could have been ruled a Foreman touchdown was instead deemed a strip inside the end zone, which was then returned 100 yards by Douglas Coleman for a Texas Tech score — a potential 21-16 Texas lead became a 23-14 Red Raider edge in a matter of moments.
To make matters worse, the Texas offense went three and out on the following series and a Patrick Mahomes-led offense trotted back out with an opportunity to push the lead to 30-14 with 6:31 to play before the half.
At this point, it seemed the Texas road woes wouldn’t end in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon. But in surprising fashion, pitted against a prolific offense that entered the game averaging 603 yards per game, the ‘Horns defense led the charge for what became yet another turning point.
Down 23-14 with Mahomes and Texas Tech’s offense back on the field, the Texas defense, too, forced a three and out, in which the ‘Horns offense responded by getting back on the scoreboard following a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. In what would become the Red Raiders final full offensive series of the half, the Texas defense stood tough; again getting off the field after only three plays.
Shane Buechele and the offense would then march down the field and set up the go-ahead field goal just before halftime to give Texas the narrow 24-23 advantage—a significant feat considering the ‘Horns are 1-15 when trailing at the half under Charlie Strong.
When it was all said and done, by way of five forced punts, two turnovers on downs and two turnovers, Texas had stopped Texas Tech of nine of its 14 offensive drives.
The ‘Horns offense, took care of business, as well. Headlined by Foreman’s 341-yard, three-touchdown performance, Texas answered four of Texas Tech’s six offensive scores with points of their own, with one missed opportunity being the aforementioned Foreman fumble at the goal line that could have arguably been ruled a Longhorns touchdown.
To help make up for the two missed opportunities to immediately answer a Red Raider offensive score, Texas sparked a 17-0 run that saw Texas Tech’s offense go scoreless for 23:50 of game time between the first and third quarters. Texas also had a 14-0 run to extend a 31-30 lead to 45-30 in the second half.
Considering Texas fell short in more than its share of one-possession games — one or two plays ultimately determined the outcome — the resiliency the ‘Horns displayed to secure their first road win of the season should come as a breath of fresh air to Strong.
At a point where Texas Tech had a chance to take control, the Texas defense showed up in convincing fashion and the offense followed with points in bunches — a requirement to escape Lubbock victorious. The resiliency Texas boasted throughout remained evident, even up until Texas Tech’s final heave towards the end zone in hopes of forcing overtime — a dream that fell short courtesy of a Kris Boyd interception.
The two-way resiliency served as an apparent sign of a group of young Longhorns growing up at a key point in the season.
Another week. Another win. Another step forward.