Longhorns learn to win against Oklahoma

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Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard attempts to stretch into the end zone before diving out-of-bounds. Texas upset rival Oklahoma 24-17 on Saturday, marking head coach Charlie Strong’s first signature win with the program.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard joked this week about “partying” in the end zone after scoring against No. 10 Oklahoma — but not even Heard foresaw the Longhorns’ post-upset celebration.

“It was a crazy feeling,” Heard said. “Just seeing those fans going wild, and you going wild. It was one of those feelings you’ll never forget.”

Texas has reason to celebrate. After a 1-4 start, the Longhorns fell under the nation’s microscope with many questioning head coach Charlie Strong’s job security. However, after beating the Sooners on Saturday, the Longhorns made a statement: This team is not done.

“This is the spark that lights the fire,” freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “This was not the team you saw last week. Some people just didn’t buy in enough. Some people put their heads down when we went down 9-0 against TCU, but today everybody was ready to buy in, and it’s going to be that way the rest of the year.”

The victory marked the first time the Longhorns beat a top-10 opponent during Strong’s tenure. It’s also the team’s first win against Oklahoma under Strong. The Sooners fell to No. 19 after the loss. However, the win marks more than just a “W” on the team’s record or a golden hat trophy. It’s a major step in the right direction — a win that generates confidence.

“We fought as a team today, and that’s all we’ve been trying to get them to do,” play-caller Jay Norvell said. “I think we have some confidence now from the way we played today that we could build on. We’re going to go to work doing that.”

The Longhorns struggled with late-game mistakes through their first five games. Yet, against Oklahoma, Texas finally made plays when they mattered.

Texas sent out its defense to hold a 24-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. Momentum was on the Sooners’ side after they forced a Texas three-and-out, but the Longhorns’ defense came up with two sacks and forced the Sooners to punt. On the ensuing drive, Texas’ offense picked up three crucial first downs to run the clock out. For the first time this season, the Longhorns found a way to finish. 

“We needed that win,” Strong said. “We have just been so close before last week, before we were blown out. But just to see that win and just get a jump-start — and now we have six more to go play.”

The victory gives a young Longhorn team some much-needed winning experience and momentum. But the team can’t afford to be complacent. Texas needs to turn the victory from a signature win into a season-altering moment. With their bowl hopes still alive, the Longhorns must build on their success as they head into the second half of their season.

“You can’t slow down. You can’t look back,” Jefferson said. “We won this game, yes, but we have to get ready for [Kansas] State and the next one
after that.”