Longhorns fall to Oklahoma but find their quarterback along the way

Drew Lieberman

On two occasions Saturday, the Longhorns looked poised to roll over during their 31-26 loss to the Sooners. The first came early in the second quarter, when sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ pass was intercepted by Oklahoma’s Zack Sanchez for a 43-yard touchdown.

“He made a good play,” Swoopes said. “And I guess he just jumped the ball and got the pick.“

At that point, Texas trailed 17-3 with all 17 points coming off of its own mistakes. On several occasions against Oklahoma under Mack Brown’s leadership, the Longhorns would seemingly concede defeat, but that didn’t happen this time.

The Longhorns answered with a seven-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a touchdown strike from Swoopes on third-and-long. Swoopes showed an ability to bounce back from adversity — something he didn’t show a week ago.

“Ty [Swoopes] took a major step today,” said Shawn Watson, assistant coach for the offense and quarterbacks.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Sooners delivered what seemed to be a knockout blow to go up 31-13, but Swoopes exhibited resilience once again.

“It was 31-13, and I just looked up to the scoreboard, and I was like, ‘Come on,’ and thought to myself, ‘We’ve just got to get something going,’” Swoopes said.

Swoopes steadily drove the Longhorns down the field for the touchdown, capping it with his second touchdown toss to senior wide receiver John Harris. After the defense forced a punt, Swoopes was back to work. This time he took it in himself from 12 yards out to cut the deficit to just five points at 31-26.

“Coach Strong and the coaching staff have always told that it’s not over until the clock hits triple zeros, so we just kept playing,” Swoopes said. “We knew we had time, and we knew the defense would give us the opportunity to get back on the field, so we just kept playing. We played well, and we were scoring.” 

Although the Longhorns eventually fell to the Sooners, Swoopes made his presence felt. He completed 27-of-44 attempts for a career-high 334 yards — the most yards ever thrown by a Texas quarterback against Oklahoma.

“The kid grew up a lot,” Harris said of Swoopes. “He had [334] yards passing in the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Rivalry. I think that’s pretty big-time for a kid just starting his first career out in the Cotton Bowl. I think he’ll grow from this game, and he’ll just get more and more confident as the season goes on.”

Swoopes also finished the game with a career-high 50 yards on the ground but nearly gained even more. In the first quarter, he had most of his 73-yard run negated by a holding penalty by Harris. With the additional yards, he would’ve been the first Texas quarterback to throw for 300 yards and run for another 100 since Colt McCoy in 2009.