AUSTIN (KXAN) — No. 7 Texas forced three turnovers and took advantage of great field position all game long in a 35-6 win over BYU on Saturday at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Longhorns’ average starting field position was their own 45-yard line, thanks in part to two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Michael Taffee’s interception plus a return in the fourth quarter put the Longhorns on BYU’s 8-yard line, leading to a touchdown pass from Maalik Murphy to Adonai Mitchell. Jaray Bledsoe gobbled up a fumble so Texas could start a drive from the BYU 39-yard line, and then Jaydon Blue scored from 34 yards out to make it a blowout late in the fourth.
“There were a lot of positives, but we haven’t played our best yet,” Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “To me, that’s a bit exciting, to know our best is still out there. I think it goes without saying that we need to play better, but I’m proud of the guys with this one.
Terrance Brooks had the other interception for the Longhorns. He picked off BYU’s Kedon Slovis on a tipped ball by Jahdae Barron in the first quarter. Most importantly, Texas converted all three turnovers into touchdowns to make up for a Murphy interception and lost fumble.
Linebacker Jaylan Ford ended the game with a game-high 11 tackles and two quarterback hurries. The Texas defense made a big stand to force BYU into a short field goal. BYU manufactured a 16-play drive that took 9:57 off the clock in the second quarter, but once the Cougars got near the goal line, the Longhorns stood up. Barryn Sorrell sacked Sloves for a 4-yard loss on first down, and then Slovis took a 7-yard scramble down to the 2-yard on third down before a critical delay of game penalty on fourth down forced BYU’s offense off the field.
Texas had 12 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries.
Offensively, it was a nice debut for Murphy but the team was far from perfect. BYU stopped Texas inside the 2-yard line on two occasions to force turnovers on down, and the Longhorns’ red zone offense woes continued. Texas tried to throw from the 2-yard line on third and fourth downs, but Ja’Tavion Sanders was chopped down before the goal line with 2:04 left in the third quarter.
The second time they were stopped, they could have received a fresh set of downs had they reached the 1-yard line, but Jonathon Brooks was stacked up at the line of scrimmage for no gain with 13:10 left in the fourth.
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Xavier Worthy returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was the first punt return score for the Longhorns since 2018 and the 10th-longest return in program history.
Murphy finished the game 16 of 25 passing for 170 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Brooks rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries and Mitchell had 59 receiving yards on three receptions. Murphy threw a terrific pass to Mitchell for a 30-yard touchdown with 0:58 left in the second quarter.
“It was another really good versatile win,” Sarkisian said. “I felt really good about the punt return team, and sure enough we got the big play from Xavier. Defensively, it was physical and hard-fought. We played sound and affected the quarterback. I was really proud of Maalik making his first start. To come out and play the way he did was good.”
For BYU, Slovis finished 24-of-39 for 197 yards with two interceptions. Aiden Robbins had 56 rushing yards on 17 carries and Darius Lassiter had 75 receiving yards on five catches. Lassiter had a highlight-reel grab in the third quarter for a 47-yard gain, leaping over the top of defensive back Derek Williams to make the grab.
Texas (7-1, 4-1 Big 12 Conference) hosts Kansas State at 11 a.m. Saturday. BYU (5-3, 2-3) goes to West Virginia on Saturday.