Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Texas takes over in Tuscaloosa: The Longhorns start their season with a statement

Lorianne Willett
Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers during the Longhorns’ game against Alabama on September 9, 2023.

Seventy seconds.

The difference between “Dixieland Delight” and “Texas Fight.” The difference between defeat and a 34-24 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

At the end of the third quarter, the Texas Longhorns were demoralized.

Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” echoed over the stadium, Bryant-Denny Stadium was booming with noise, and No. 3 Alabama had its first lead of the contest. 

After leading by seven at the half, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns were down three with no momentum, no life.

Seventy seconds later: elation.

In steps redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers, with an entire country watching him. 

Ewers started the fourth quarter perfectly, finding junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders for a 50-yard gain inside the Alabama 10-yard line. In the very next play, junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell converted for six. 

Fifty-five seconds.

With the Alabama crowd still as rowdy as ever and awaiting the next big play, senior safety Jerrin Thompson delivered the game-winning blow. Alabama’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe, though extremely athletic with a big arm, struggled to throw in the pocket all game. 

With pressure mounting, Milroe threw a spiral hitting Thompson on the letters. Quickly, the Alabama fans fell silent as the senior returned the ball inside the Alabama 10-yard line. Four seconds of game time later, sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks ran in for a 5-yard score.

Texas 27, Alabama 16.

Seventy seconds.

“Jerrin Thompson gave us confidence right there,” said senior defensive back Jahdae Barron, who started the game with an interception of his own on Alabama’s first drive.

The 11-point lead held tight, and the Longhorns had emphatically defeated future Hall of Fame head coach Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. 

Sarkisian knew this one meant more. The Texas head coach spent two different stints as a part of the Alabama coaching staff under Saban, a man he’s described as a mentor to him.

“The University of Alabama, Nick Saban, Tuscaloosa changed my life,” Sarkisian said. “In a moment of my life when things were not going great, he extended me an olive branch.”

The players could tell this game meant more to Sarkisian.

“It means everything,” Barron said about winning for his head coach. ”Today he told us to enjoy the win.”

Texas snapped one of the most impressive streaks in college football with Saturday’s win. Alabama had not lost a game in Tuscaloosa in 21 straight games, dating back to now highest-paid NFL player Joe Burrow’s 2019 upset as an LSU Tiger. Alabama was 52-1 at home in its last 53 games heading into the matchup.

“52-1, walking into this stadium here shows a lot about what we’re capable of,” Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian wasn’t the only person to make a statement in the win. Ewers, who had seen criticism about his deep passing and his ability to win games, delivered when it mattered most. The player from Southlake threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns, amassing a quarterback rating of 166.4 and, most importantly, hitting the deep balls.

“It’s awesome hitting on those deep balls,” Ewers said. “(I) just (gave) my guys an opportunity, and tonight they made those plays.”

And make plays they did.

Sanders finished the night with 114 receiving yards, his first time eclipsing the 100-yard mark in his career. Junior Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell each amassed over 70 receiving yards and a touchdown, with Mitchell reeling in two.

On the defensive side of the ball, veterans weren’t the only players making impact plays. Though Barron and Thompson recorded the two interceptions, the Longhorns sacked Milroe five times, three of which were from underclassmen. Freshman linebacker Anthony Hill junior sacked Milroe twice as well as finding two tackles for loss, a breakout game for the young five-star recruit. Sophomore edge rusher Ethan Burke added two TFLs and a sack as well.

“We should be an opponent,” senior linebacker Jaylan Ford said. “That is respect.” 

Although they’re celebrating tonight, the Longhorns still have 10 regular season games left. They’ll face the Wyoming Cowboys at home next Saturday. 

Sarkisian exited the press room with one last message for Texas fans:

“Hook ‘Em.”

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About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.