Swoopes leads Longhorns to upset over Notre Dame

Michael Shapiro

Tyrone Swoopes didn’t start on Sunday, but he sure did finish.

The senior quarterback dove into the endzone to give Texas a 50-47 upset over No. 10 Notre Dame in double overtime, bulldozing past Irish defenders on his way to victory.

He arose from the turf mobbed by his teammates. Swoopes and head coach Charlie Strong celebrated with the Longhorns in the north endzone, reveling in the upset win.

“So much can be said about Swoopes and just for him to be the person he is,” Strong said. “[I told him], ‘You’re going to have your chance. You’re going to have the opportunity.’”

The game yielded eight lead changes, four ties and two overtimes in a back-and-forth battle. Texas blew a 17-point lead and had an extra-point attempt ran back for two points. And that was all before overtime.

But after four hours and nearly 100 points, Texas had its first victory of the year — one that Strong hopes will put Texas back on the map.

“We needed to get this program back in the spotlight,” Strong said. “This is big for us to get it back.”

Notre Dame quickly silenced a raucous crowd of 102,315 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on its first drive, taking just six plays to get on the board.

But the lead wouldn’t last. The Longhorns' offense was lightning fast under freshman quarterback Shane Buechele on their opening possession. They found the endzone in less than three minutes.

Buechele looked calm and collected in his first start while guiding the Longhorns’ frenetic attack. After an offseason filled with uncertainty at quarterback — Strong refused to name a starter until the team’s first drive — Texas looked to have its guy.

“I didn’t even see a true freshman out there tonight,” junior running back D’Onta Foreman said. “I see a veteran quarterback. [Buechele] stood in the pocket, had some really good runs tonight and I’m proud of him.”

Buechele and Swoopes both saw the field on Texas’ fourth drive, marching Texas to a 14-7 lead. Buechele completed two passes to senior Jake Oliver and snuck into the endzone from one yard out.

Texas had one more drive before halftime, where Buechele connected with wide receiver Jerrod Heard for 68 yards. Swoopes then punched it in from one yard out to give Texas a 21-14 lead.

Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert praised Heard for his transition to wide receiver after being third on the quarterback depth chart just one month ago.

“It’s real encouraging,” Gilbert said. “[Heard] is a guy who can spread the field and really run fast. He was able to go out and make a couple of catches in his first game as a receiver.”

The Longhorns looked to have all the momentum after scoring 10 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter. But a quick score and a costly pick changed the game in a flash. Buechele made his first mistake of the night upon taking the field with the Longhorns up 31-21, throwing an interception. Notre Dame quickly answered with a touchdown to cut Texas’ lead to three.

After a Texas three-and-out, the Fighting Irish regained the lead when quarterback DeShone Kizer tossed a 17-yard touchdown to sophomore running back Josh Adams in the fourth. Kizer was masterful throughout the evening as Notre Dame's signal caller, throwing for five touchdowns.

"[Kizer] is one of the better quarterbacks I've seen," sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson said. "It was really a challenge at times because the kid was very smart and he knew what was coming. It's hard to scheme against that."

Texas seemed to jump ahead on a 19-yard dash by Foreman with under 3:23 left. But up 37-35, the Longhorns’ special teams shot itself in the foot.

Senior kicker Trent Domingue had his extra-point attempt blocked, and the Irish scooped up the ball. Notre Dame dashed down into the opposite endzone, tying the game at 37.

After the two teams swapped touchdowns in the first overtime, Texas held Notre Dame to a field goal in the second. Swoopes ended the game one series later, giving Texas the biggest win of Strong’s tenure.

“I’m always ready,” Swoopes said. “I knew I was going to have my role. When I got my opportunity, I did it to the best of my ability.”