Tyrone Swoopes burst his way into the open field and ran 46 yards for a touchdown to give the Longhorns a 38-34 lead over Texas Tech. But Texas would eventually fall short in a 48-45 shootout loss to the Red Raiders.
Rain fell on the Longhorns on Thursday night as the game played out as many have done this season. Shades of Texas’ misfortune this season at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium played on the field like a song stuck on repeat.
“It was just disappointing,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “It’s frustrating. Our guys played hard, and they competed. … It was just a matter of just going and making a play. In the first half, the thing that killed us was the penalties. We were never able to establish a drive and they were able to make plays and we didn’t make the plays.”
Texas struck first with a 32-yard field goal from senior kicker Nick Rose. But Texas Tech answered on a miracle play, when Longhorn cornerback Holton Hill couldn’t secure an interception and saw the ball fall into Red Raider wide receiver Jakeem Grant’s hands. Grant took the dropped ball for a 65-yard touchdown — another unfortunate turn of events for the Longhorns.
Then the injuries hit. Seven players left the game, including redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard and senior linebacker Peter Jinkens and freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson. The Longhorns played with a “next man up” attitude, but the missing key players proved difficult to overcome.
“Guys were hurt, and guys got some playing time who haven’t in the past, and they did a tremendous job,” senior center Taylor Doyle said. “We just can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. … Our offense came out and couldn’t execute. We couldn’t get past third down, and it hurt us.”
But there was also hope despite the struggles. The same kind of hope Texas received when it beat Oklahoma. The same feeling the Longhorns had when Heard galloped into the endzone in a one-point loss to California. The appearance that it could get over the proverbial hump that it has longed to climb past during Strong’s tenure at Texas. Thanksgiving’s hope came from a 276 yard and four touchdown performance from freshman running back Chris Warren. But even he couldn’t prevent Texas’s demise.
“I was just playing,” Warren said. “That’s what you got to do. Because if you focus on [it being your night], you get too greedy, and then you lose sight of what’s ahead of you. That’s how people end up with 300-400 yard games and then lose a game.”
The loss dropped Texas’ record to 4-7 and ended its chances of reaching a bowl game. The Longhorns’ played well enough to win against Texas Tech, but the mistakes and injuries piled up to become insurmountable, much like they have all season.
“It’s very frustrating because we’ve come so close in a lot of these games and just haven’t finished them the way we wanted to,” junior defensive end Bryce Cottrell said. “We just have to finish. It’s unacceptable. I didn’t come into the season thinking we would have seven losses.”