Joshua Moore is an overtime hero for the second time this season.
Tied with Oklahoma State at 34 on the first possession of overtime, the redshirt sophomore receiver lined up in the slot right of senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Moore, who caught the game-winning touchdown against Texas Tech in Week 4, broke in on his route before darting vertically as Ehlinger dropped back on second-and-goal from the 15. Then, as Ehlinger scanned the field from left to right, Moore broke back inside on a post that split Oklahoma State’s two high safeties.
Ehlinger fired a rocket into Moore’s chest as soon as he saw him. Moore snagged his first catch of the game to give Texas a 41–34 lead it wouldn’t lose over the Cowboys.
“I felt a lot of emotion, but I also knew that the game wasn’t over yet so I couldn’t let myself get too high in the moment,” Moore said. “I knew the game wasn’t over. I knew we had more football to play. And if I got too high in that moment, then maybe I wouldn’t have performed the way I wanted to if (the game) went into double overtime.”
The pressure Texas had felt playing from behind was now on Oklahoma State for just the third time Saturday afternoon. The No. 6 Cowboys controlled most of the game, although the Longhorns’ opportunistic defense and excellent special teams play kept Texas in the game. Offensively, the Longhorns only managed 13 points on three drives that started in the red zone and didn’t find a rhythm for most of the afternoon.
But Ehlinger and the offense found their stride when it mattered most.
Trailing 31–26 and facing a fourth-and-seven from Oklahoma State’s 12 yard line with 4:34 remaining, Texas’ quarterback rolled to his right and just evaded the Cowboy linebacker swiping at his legs. As he scanned the field, he found sophomore receiver Jake Smith breaking into his line of vision on a crossing route. Ehlinger didn’t have time to set his feet, so he squared his shoulders as best he could and fired a rocket to the open receiver in the end zone.
“We knew that they like to bring the house and play cover zero behind it in those situations. I knew that pre-snap, but I had a good feeling Jake was going to win on that route,” Ehlinger said. “I had a good feeling that he was going to win, and I could buy some time to find him, and that’s exactly what he did.”
For the first time in the afternoon, Texas’ offense had a rhythm. After Oklahoma State redshirt sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders led a two-minute drill to put the Cowboys in field goal range and send the game to overtime, Ehlinger and Moore connected on the final score to permanently put the Longhorns ahead.
Texas’ defense would have to make another play to seal the victory on a fourth-and-eight on the next possession. And defensive coordinator Chris Ash wanted to blitz.
“Chris (Ash) said, ‘Hey Herm, I’m going to zero-blitz. You good with that?’” Herman said. Mindful of LSU’s miraculous third-down conversion last year, Herman wittily replied, “At least we’ve got the lead, and it's not third-and-17.”
Junior jack Joseph Ossai, rushing off the edge, knew he could beat the offensive tackle as soon as he got the corner.. Ossai tackled Sanders as he tried to escape the pocket and triumphantly sauntered to the Texas sideline.
“We feel like we're never out of a game. We haven’t been out of a game,” Herman said. (The players) understand that it's not going to happen overnight, but as long as we continue this trajectory of improvement, we're going to have a chance in every ball game that we're in.”