Texas may have lost to Oklahoma 53-45 on Saturday, but Sam Ehlinger’s late-game heroics etched him into the Red River Rivalry record books.
Down 31-17 with 4:38 remaining, the senior quarterback led an epic 14-point comeback to send the game to overtime and seal his place among Red River Rivalry legends. Still, Ehlinger’s six total touchdowns and 399 yards of total offense ultimately weren’t enough to push the Longhorns past their northern rivals in a four-overtime barn burner.
“It’s frustrating. We showed the team we are there at the end, when we stay out of our own way and we don’t have penalties and mistakes that are self-inflicted,” Ehlinger said. “It’s unfortunate, and we’ve got to be better.”
After the defense forced a stop, Texas’ offense got the ball back at midfield with just under five minutes remaining. Ehlinger wasted no time marching the Longhorns down the field, taking advantage of a pair of Sooner penalties before finding redshirt sophomore receiver Joshua Moore for a 9-yard score.
“We knew we were going to come back,” redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Whittington said. “We did against (Texas) Tech, and we never give up.”
Minutes later, following a Sooner three-and-out, Ehlinger connected with junior running back Keaontay Ingram for a 2-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 14 seconds left in regulation. Oklahoma knelt on the final play of the game to send the afternoon into overtime.
“The game is not over until it’s over,” Ehlinger said.” There’s always a chance, even when those chances are slim. You’ve got to be optimistic and approach it and attack it. My mentality is just (to) do what you can do.”
As poorly as the Longhorns had played until the final five minutes, the players said they showed what the team is capable of at the end of regulation and the overtime period.
Ehlinger drove the Longhorns to the 3-yard line in the first overtime before barreling into the end zone on a sprint out play to give Texas its first lead of the game, 38-31.
But Oklahoma wasn’t going away. The resilient Sooners stormed back with a five-play drive capped off by a touchdown pass to sophomore H-back Austin Stogner over the left pylon to retie the game at 38.
The overtime madness was just beginning.
On the second play of the second overtime, Ehlinger escaped a collapsing pocket, broke a pair of tackles and tiptoed down the sideline to tie the game at 45. The Sooners answered on the next series by blocking a kick from junior kicker Cameron Dicker.
Fortunately for Texas, Oklahoma’s special teams struggled too. Redshirt sophomore kicker Gabe Brkic hooked his kick to the left and sent the game into quadruple overtime.
But Ehlinger was finally out of mind-blowing, championship-hope-saving plays.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler connected with redshirt sophomore receiver Drake Stoops on the first play of the period for a 25-yard score to put the Sooners up 53-45. Ehlinger, facing a second and goal from the 19 on the next possession, overthrew graduate transfer receiver Tarik Black and was intercepted by an Oklahoma defender.
The loss drops Texas to 2–2 on the year, matching its worst start through four games since head coach Tom Herman arrived in Austin. But Herman and the Longhorns still think they have a chance to turn the season around even when it appears to be slipping away.
“We’ve got an opportunity to still have a really good season,” Herman said. “We’re four games into what’s hopefully an 11, 12-game season, and we’ve still got a lot to play for. Nobody knows how this year is going to end up.”