Mike Davis and David Ash had a connection on Saturday that was nothing short of Davis’ middle name – magic.
The pair teamed up for a 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only four catches, including the game-winning score in the fourth quarter, leading the Longhorns to a 31-22 victory over Texas Tech.
“He was telling me before the plays ‘throw it to me and it’s a touchdown.’ So I threw it to him and it was a touchdown,” Ash said with a grin.
The biggest of these connections came with 9:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns were driving and offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin decided to take a shot. Ash dropped back looked right, but them came back to his left and let the ball fly towards the left corner of the end zone. The ball looked like it would come up short, but that’s when Davis made a play.
With his long strides Davis pulled away from the Red Raider corner and snagged the ball in the air, just inches out of the reach of the defender.
“Whenever the ball is in the air I always feel like I’m going to get it,” Davis said. “I was just like ‘it’s coming, time to make a play.’”
Davis’ play was the final effort on the scoreboard for Texas, but it was special teams play that sealed the contest.
Immediately after the Davis grab the Red Raiders drove the ball down the field with a purpose. Quarterback Seth Doege commanded the huddle and delivered a steady diet of perfectly thrown crossing routes, which were complemented with the occasional run.
Texas Tech drover all the way to Texas’ two-yard line, but that’s when the defense buckled down. On first down, they were able to bat away a fade in the corner of the end zone. On second, the defense was aided by a holding penalty that took away a touchdown, and then Adrian Phillips made an open field tackle on the six to force third down. Then on third, Texas was able to put Doege under enough pressure to garner a poor throw.
The miss forced a field goal attempt, which would’ve made it a one score game. But, it was at that moment that Carrington Byndom, after a pair of close calls earlier in the game, made a play. He burst around the edge and dived with fingers outstretched towards the ball, right in front of the descending leg of the kicker.
Both connected, and the ball bounded into the back of the end zone for a block.
“It was a game saver,” head coach Mack Brown said. “It really put the game out of reach, if we could make a couple of first downs at the end.”
And securing first downs is exactly what Texas did. The Longhorns wasted the final five minutes away with a steady diet of Johnathan Gray. The freshman was unstoppable on the last drive gashing the Texas Tech defense on rushes on the outside and pounding them up the middle in between the tackles.
It was a drive indicative of Gray’s huge day, as the young back rushed for 106 yards and contributed in the passing attack for 41. It was a spectacular all-around performance for a young back who was playing in his dad’s shadow – his dad James is the second all-time leading rusher at Tech.
“He’s fast, he’s tough and he’s a real competitor,” Brown said. He’s so mature for a freshman. I’m sure the whole family is proud of him today.
Davis’ catch was the game winner, Byndom’s block was the momentum swinger and Gray’s performance sealed it. But, it was the play of the defense that kept the game reach.
The displayed a bend-but-not-break attitude at its finest. The Red Raiders were in Texas territory all day, but the Longhorns held the nations’ 12th highest scoring offense to only two touchdowns and a 4-of-14 mark on third downs.
The defense was especially effective in the third quarter when they had to hold Tech back, as the Longhorn offense sputtered, failing to score in the frame. But, they knew if they did their job, the offense would come up huge.
“We just never gave up we knew we just needed to stop them and hold them to field goals,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “The offense was eventually get going and we were going to win.”