AUSTIN (KXAN) — When in doubt, run the football. Texas did that, and it paid off.
Texas junior Bijan Robinson rushed for 179 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns and keyed a huge go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter to lift the No. 23 Longhorns to a 38-27 win over Baylor on Friday at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
It was another big-time performance when the Longhorns needed it by Robinson. With 8:25 left in the game, Robinson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run, capping off a 75-yard drive where Robinson ran for 65 of them. Roschon Johnson essentially iced the game with an 11-yard touchdown run, hurdling a defender in the process, with 3:48 left. Johnson ended the game with 77 yards on 13 carries and a pair of touchdowns.
“This was one game in particular that we showed resiliency in-game,” Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Nobody panicked. In all three phases, especially defense, we really settled in.”
It was a physical performance by the Longhorns who started a sluggish early. Baylor scored on the first Texas drive following an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone about six minutes into the game, and then the Bears scored on its first drive to take a 9-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Texas responded, however, and scored twice to take a 14-9 lead by the end of the frame.
The Longhorns outgained Baylor 402-280, and adjusted for sack yardage, Texas ran for 208 yards. Quinn Ewers got beat up a bit by a relentless Baylor pass rush. He was sacked five times for a loss of 51 yards but still completed 12-of-16 passes for 194 yards. He had a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
“What we’ve been able to do on the ground the last couple weeks has been impressive,” Sarkisian said. “We were challenged and we put forth the effort to run the football. The leadership of our team really showed.”
It looked as if Baylor was going to take a page out of Texas Tech’s book and play keep-away with the Longhorns, and they did that for the first half. The Bears ran 44 plays to Texas’ 25 in the first half and had a huge advantage in time of possession, 21:01 to 8:59. At the time, Texas had rushed for just 25 yards as a team.
Baylor also converted on four of their five plays on fourth down, except for the last one. Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen dropped back to pass and Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown leveled him in the backfield to cause an incomplete pass and turnover on downs with 2:58 left in the game.
Texas averaged 6.3 yards per play to Baylor’s 3.7, the Bears averaged just 2.6 yards per rush. Baylor running back Richard Reese rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries. Qualan Jones had 45 yards on 14 carries. Baylor rushed for 101 yards on 39 carries as a team.
Longhorns linebacker Jaylan Ford made his fourth interception of the season and ended the game with 13 tackles, two for loss. Overshown led the way with 14 tackles, 7 solo with a sack, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups.
The Longhorns (8-4, 6-3 Big 12 Conference) are now in a position to tie the Kansas State Wildcats for the No. 2 spot in the Big 12 standings, but the Kansas Jayhawks have to beat the Wildcats on Saturday. By virtue of their 34-27 win over the Wildcats earlier in the season, the Longhorns own the tiebreaker and would advance to the Big 12 Conference championship game over the Wildcats to take on TCU. If the Wildcats beat Kansas, then they will face the Horned Frogs for the conference title.
Bowl projections have been out for a few weeks now, but with regular seasons coming to a close and the postseason picture coming into focus, ESPN thinks the Longhorns won’t have to go far for their bowl game.
Both ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura think Texas will end up in San Antonio at the Alamo Bowl, but they don’t have their opponent pegged quite yet. It’s a Big 12 and Pac 12 tie-in, and Bonagura thinks the Oregon Ducks will make the trip while Schlabach predicts Washington to make it. The Alamo Bowl is at 8 p.m., Dec. 29 at the Alamodome.
Nothing is certain with bowl games as of yet, but invitations should start to go out once the regular season ends and a full complement of bowl-eligible teams are available. Regardless of the result Saturday against Baylor, Texas is eligible for a bowl game.
FINAL: Longhorns 38, Bears 27. Texas does its part and moves to 6-3 in the Big 12, 8-4 overall. Kansas has to beat Kansas State for the Longhorns to make it to the Big 12 title game now.
2:58 4Q: DeMarvion Overshown hammers Shapen on the 4th down play and creates an incomplete pass for a turnover on downs. Texas can ice it with a score here, taking over on the Baylor 21.
All 5 Texas touchdowns have been on the ground. 2 for Bijan, 2 for Roschon, 1 for Ewers. Bijan has 162 yards on 24 carries so far. Another outstanding game for him.
3:48 4Q: TOUCHDOWN TEXAS – Roschon Johnson hurdles a defender and he’s in for an 11-yard TD. 6 plays, 42 yards, 2:40. PAT good. Longhorns 38, Bears 27
6:28 4Q: Get yourself a linebacker with some receiver-like hands. UT’s Jaylan Ford makes his 4th INT of the season and returns it to the Baylor 42.
8:25 4Q: TOUCHDOWN TEXAS – Robinson punches it in from a yard out after carrying the Longhorns on the drive. 11 plays, 75 yards, 5:05. Robinson with 65 rush yards on the drive. PAT good. Longhorns 31, Bears 27
13:30 4Q: TOUCHDOWN BAYLOR – Baylor’s Al Walcott makes a huge play on the strip-sack of Ewers, and Gabe Hall scoops it up for a 16-yard TD. 2-pt play good. Bears 27, Longhorns 24
14:41 4Q: Texas forces a Baylor punt and the Horns take over on their own 16.
End 3Q: Longhorns 24, Bears 19. Baylor will start the 4Q with 1st-and-10 on their own 37. Texas has to hang on and win if it even wants a chance at the Big 12 title game.
2:21 3Q: TOUCHDOWN TEXAS – Johnson finishes it off with a big stretch over the goal line for a 1-yard TD. 10 plays, 78 yards, 3:19. PAT good. Longhorns 24, Bears 19
3:03 3Q: Whittington catches a short pass and then weaves his way through the Baylor defense to get it to the Baylor 5
5:40 4Q: Mayers’ kick from 40 yards is wide left. Texas’ defense gets another big stand and they’ll take over at their own 22
6:53 3Q: Baylor now 3-for-3 on 4th down plays with that sneak by Shapen on 4th-and-short. 1st and 10 Bears on the UT23
11:13 3Q: UT’s Jordan Whittington hauls in a pass but then fumbles it after a hit. Baylor recovers on its own 44.
11:25 3Q: Longhorn defense does its job and gets a quick punt out of Baylor and Texas takes over on its own 37 after the punt
13:11 3Q: On 4th-and-1, JT Sanders gets called for a false start. Texas lined up to go for it, but instead has to punt after the penalty. Brutal.
Halftime: Baylor 19, Texas 17. Ewers was sacked on the final play for the 1st half. Longhorns to receive second-half kick.
0:40 2Q: TOUCHDOWN BAYLOR – Ben Sims hauls in a 14-yard TD pass from Shapen. 5 plays, 45 yards, 0:32. PAT good. Bears 19, Longhorns 17
1:16 2Q: Ewers gets sacked for the 2nd time on the drive and the Longhorns have to punt out of their own end zone. Bears take over at the Longhorns 45
1:23 2Q: Cole Hutson injured on the 2nd down run by Bijan Robinson. Looks like he got rolled up on a bit. He’ll be carted off the field. Significant loss for the Longhorns if he’s unable to return. Can’t put any weight on his right leg
2:17 2Q: Texas’ defense makes a nice stand to force a 4th-and-12 and Baylor will punt. Texas gets the ball to start the 2nd half so a score here would be nice for the Longhorns
5:50 2Q: FIELD GOAL TEXAS – Auburn drills a 38-yard field goal, but what could have been had it not been for a pass going through the hands of JT Sanders on 3rd down. Longhorns 17, Bears 12.
7:54 2Q: FIELD GOAL BAYLOR – Baylor K John Mayers boots a 30-yard field goal, but the Bears have to be disappointed with that result. Miscommunication and a fumbled handoff killed the drive just outside the UT 10. Baylor converted 2 4th down plays on the drive. Longhorns 14, Bears 12
12:04 2Q: Baylor converts another 4th down on the drive, this one 4th-and-6, on another pass play. Shapen hits Monaray Baldwin for a 16-yard gain down to the UT 21
14:07 2Q: On 4th-and-2, Baylor easily converts on a playaction pass to Josh Cameron for a 15-yard gain
End 1Q: Longhorns 14, Bears 9. After a dreadful first drive, the Longhorns respond with a pair of touchdowns and have the lead. Baylor has the ball 3rd-and-2 on their own 33 to start 2Q
1:35 1Q: After a short field from a bad Baylor punt, Bijan Robinson runs it in from 2 yards out. PAT good. Longhorns 14, Bears 9
2:55 1Q: Baylor punter Isaac Power didn’t get all of that one. The shank wobbles out of bounds at the Baylor 29 for an 11-yard punt. Texas takes over there.
3:54 1Q: TOUCHDOWN TEXAS – Not something we’ve seen a lot of this year, but Quinn Ewers takes it in himself from 3 yards. 7 plays, 75 yards, 3:00. Bears 9, Longhorns 7
Two big pass plays from Ewers, one to Xavier Worthy for 18 yards and another to JT Sanders for 37, get the Longhorns in the red zone
6:54 1Q: TOUCHDOWN BAYLOR – Baylor QB Blake Shapen airs it out on playaction and hits a wide-open Jaylen Ellis for a 47-yard TD. PAT good. 5 plays, 62 yards, 2:43. Bears 9, Longhorns 0
9:44 1Q: SAFETY BAYLOR – Not a good first drive for the Longhorns. Two minimal runs and then Quinn Ewers throws it to no one in particular and is called for grounding in the end zone. Bears 2, Longhorns 0 and the Bears get it back
10:44 1Q: Baylor’s drive stalls at midfield after a run on 3rd and long didn’t go anywhere. After the punt, Texas takes over on its own 8.
13:33 1Q: And we have our first review of the game, this one for the spot of the ball. It looked like the Baylor receiver caught the ball just short of the line to gain on 3rd down, but the call on the field gave Baylor a 1st down. We shall see what the replay official has to say.
The call stands.
Coin toss: Baylor calls tails, and it’s heads. Texas will differ its option to the second half and Baylor will get the ball first.
11 a.m.: Seniors were honored in a pregame ceremony. Roschon Johnson’s announcement drew a huge cheer from the Longhorn faithful. And now Hells Bells plays over the PA as the Longhorns run out onto the field.
10:30 a.m.: Both teams are getting pregame warmups in on a cloudy day here in Austin.