Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium has been full of magical moments. Recent memory points to Texas’ game against the Iowa State Cyclones in 2018 when “Don’t Stop Believin’” blared through the speakers and screaming fans lit up the stadium with cell phone lights. The Longhorns won 24-10.
The stadium has attempted to repeat this magical moment all season, but none have compared until Saturday night. Texas was neck and neck against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the end of the third quarter. Minutes into the fourth quarter, the DJ queued “Don’t Stop Believin,’” and the Longhorns were hit with a wave of inspiration.
“I go to the guys, and you see all the people with the lights on and the whole stadium is full,” sophomore left tackle Samuel Cosmi said. “It kind of inspires us to (say), ‘Hey, we got to work harder, you know, for these people. (They’re) helping us in a way by giving us support.’”
What came next was a two-minute drive that ended with a touchdown and a two-point conversion that stretched Texas’ lead to 13. In the end, the Longhorns took down the Cowboys 36-30. The return of this magical moment coincided with an outstanding performance by sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram, who razzled and dazzled all of his talents in a career night.
“I think it’s huge and it’s great for him because we had seen that from him all of fall camp, all of spring ball,” junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “So for him to come out and play the way that he did, we all knew it was in him. For him to accomplish that and get that confidence, he’s still a young player and has a lot of football here in front of him. So for him to get that under his belt, it’s huge.”
Ingram was sidelined at the beginning of fall camp after “tweaking his knee,” but returned for the matchup against Louisiana Tech. His performances haven’t underwhelmed, but the sophomore running back was expected to be more explosive this season. Last season, Ingram rushed for 708 yards, averaging 54.5 yards per game. Against Rice and LA Tech, he averaged over 70 yards but fell below 30 against LSU when he only rushed for 29 yards on 10 attempts.
Ingram found his footing against Oklahoma State and dominated the run game from his first carry. The sophomore running back carried the ball 21 times for a career-high 114 yards, only losing one yard in the process. For Ingram, there are only a handful of nights like Saturday night.
“There are probably just a handful, just the rhythm and stuff like that,” Ingram said. “We need more explosives in the running back room for sure. You know, tonight (was about) just getting started (and) establish the running game. If you want to do special things right, it’s gonna take more than tonight.”
Ingram’s best play was moments after “Don’t Stop Believin’” electrified the stadium. Ehlinger completed a middle pass to Ingram, who ran for 26 yards while spinning and barreling his way through OSU’s defense.
“I was pretty impressed by the way he ran,” Cosmi said. “And, you know, he ran like he normally does (in practice) … the things he does in practice and during the game (correspond), so I was really excited to see him out there in the game. I mean, it just puts a smile on a big guy’s face.”
Following his monster performance against the Cowboys, the pressure is mounting on the workhorse’s back. Now back to the player his teammates know, Ingram hopes to continue his performance streak and leave the past behind.
“Just (getting) back to myself,” Ingram said. “I mean, I don’t know how else to put it. I’m not gonna make any excuses. (It’s) just (about) playing Keaontay football.”