Longhorns Continue Comeback

Turnaround Texas Longhorns could secure Big 12 coach of the year for Mack Brown

Turnaround Longhorns could secure Big 12 coach of the year for Mack

It was a gutsy, free-slugging prizefight, the kind of game that no team deserved to lose. But Texas wanted it a little more and came away with a 47-40 overtime win against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown.

The winning touchdown was a two-yard pass to fullback Alex De La Torre, but it took a defensive stop by linebacker Steve Edmond, who tipped away a sure touchdown on third down and intercepted the pass on fourth down, to seal the victory.

No play was bigger than fourth-and-6 from the WV 46-yard line, with under a minute to play, when the blessed tandem of Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley hooked up on an eight-yard completion. McCoy’s inability to convert on third downs — he was one for his first 10 tries — kept Texas behind for most of the game. But in the second half, he was Clutch City.

Case McCoy’s numbers were nothing special, because they don’t measure his heart. The kid just wins. He’s gone from loser to legend. 

They love John Denver’s “Country Roads” up there in WV, but the song of the night was this: “Case McCoy, take us home/To the place we belong/West Virginia, mountin’ drama/Case McCoy, take us home.”

His numbers on the night, 27-49 for 283 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, were nothing special, because they don’t measure his heart. The kid just wins. He’s gone from loser to legend.

It was exhausting, exhilarating, to watch these two foes go toe to toe. It seemed right when a 24-yard field goal by Anthony Fera, his fourth of the night, sent the game into overtime, at 40-40.

The number of folks watching the game who would’ve rather been at Fun Fun Fun Fest, seeing rapper M.I.A.? Zero.

Announcer Joey Harrington kept saying it over and over (and over) again, but it’s true: McCoy/Shipley II proved that the sequel can be just as good as the original.

The pair were money when there was everything to lose, converting a third-and-14 with a 36-yard pass play that was followed by a huge third-and-goal that found Shipley stretching for the ball in the end zone. No. 8’s first touchdown of the year make it 37-33 Texas, but the Mountaineers just kept coming, like Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manilla.”

Considering that Texas put up 47 points, it’s ironic that UT’s most lethal weapon, Daje Johnson, was not a positive factor. “Modern Ramonce” lost a fumble, muffed a couple of punts and never really got loose. But Texas was not lacking in heroes, on defense in the first half and on offense in the second. They both kicked ass in overtime.

Mike Davis scored on a 49-yard bomb in the third quarter to pull Texas to three down, at 26-23, but Magic Mike’s most crucial play was holding on to a third-and-long pass on the sidelines despite a savage hit a split second after he caught it. That catch moved Davis, a senior, up on NFL draft boards for the toughness under pressure it showed. But this was a gritty football team all night. 

 We all had Mack Brown fired after what looked to be a 7-5 season, at best. Instead, he could very well be named the Big 12 coach of the year.

Doghouse Joe Bergeron ran it in from the seven to put Texas up 30-26, their first lead since 10-9. Bergeron came off the bench when Johnathan Gray’s calf muscle puffed and fluttered like Dizzy Gillespie’s cheeks and he was sent to the locker room and didn’t return to the field.

Running back Malcolm Brown played hard all game, but was kept in check until he sprinted for 27 yards with under a minute in regulation to set up the game-tying field goal. Marcus Johnson, whose dreads had almost no camera time in four quarters, came through when it counted most, with a key third-down catch in overtime that turned what would’ve been a 36-yard field goal attempt into a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line. UT’s dual-use kicker proved to be the greatest Fera from UT since Ms. Fawcett.

While Tenacious D was wrapping up its set at Fun Fun Fun, a less funny form of tenacious defense kept Texas in the game early, when the offense was about as creative as the copywriters of those horrid Geico commercials. Led by DEs Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat, with Desmond Harrison and the other Malcolm Brown controlling the middle, the Tons of Anarchy had five sacks and forced two fumbles in the first half.

A West Virginia tradition is ringing a big bell when the opposing team has a third down. That sound was as if from a horror movie in the first half, when McCoy and his playmakers seemed clueless. But in the end, the bell tolled for the turnaround Texas Longhorns. It was an amazing, come-from-behind victory on the road from a team that Dolphins walk-off Jonathan Martin was calling soft at the beginning of the season.

We all had Mack Brown fired the morning after the Meineke Bowl, or whatever disappointing destination awaited what looked to be a 7-5 season, at best. But he could very well be named the Big 12 coach of the year. His product certainly gave Texas fans a reason to celebrate last night.

Case McCoy Texas West Virginia game
Stats don't measure Case McCoy's heart. Photo courtesy of UT Athletics
Jaxon Shipley West Virginia game
Jaxon Shipley, part of the blessed McCoy-Shipley tandem. Photo courtesy of UT Athletics
Mack Brown Jackson Jeffcoat West Virginia game
Jackson Jeffcoat hugs Mack Brown, who could just be coach of the year after all. Photo courtesy of UT Athletics