AUSTIN, TX — On a clear and mild night deep in the heart of Texas, junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger showed plenty of Texas fight for the No.15 Texas Longhorns in a thrilling 50-48 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.
Ehlinger, the 6’3, 230-pound native of Austin, engineered a last-minute drive that led to Cameron Dicker’s game-winning field goal as time expired to help the Longhorns stage off Kansas’ upset bid at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in front of 97,137 nervous and anxious Longhorn fans.
On a night in which the 1969 Longhorns championship team were honored during halftime, Texas didn’t look or play like one as they came out the gates slow and sluggish early and only led 21-17.
In the second half, the game opened up and looked like a traditional Big 12 conference game; All offense, playing defense strictly voluntary.
Both teams combined for 60 points, with Kansas outscoring Texas 31-29, but those last two point would come back to haunt the Jayhawks thanks to a blocked extra point that was returned for two points by D’Shawn Jamison to make the score 33-30 with 10:06 remaining following a 16-yard touchdown run by Jayhawks RB Pooka Williams Jr.
Both teams would then exchange points over the next ten minutes before Ehlinger’s game-winning drive, where he made three NFL-level throws of 16, 20 and 11 yards in going 5-8 for 65 yards and rushing for another eight on the ground while converting four first downs.
One of college football’s bright rising stars, Ehlinger saved his best for last, in going 31-44 for 399 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, Texas should not have had to struggle against a team that the Longhorns have historically owned, and were favored by 21 points.
Despite the last-second win, Texas needs to tighten up things on both sides of the ball.
While Texas was missing some key starters on offense and defense, there is no excuse in allowing 569 total yards to an unranked Kansas squad at home.
Oklahoma, LSU, Texas Tech one could make a legit argument for, but the Jayhawks?
While the Longhorns have Ehlinger, they are still growing as a team and–injuries aside–aren’t where they should be right now as a top program.
They will get there, they have the tools, talent and coach in Tom Herman to lead them, but 2019 may already be lost thanks to losses against LSU and the hated Sooners.
For now, the thrilling win over the Jayhawks is great and come Monday they will need to turn their focus to traveling up to Fort Worth to face TCU. Hopefully, the Longhorns will be able to string together a more consistent effort and get back to looking like a complete team again.