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 football is finally a fourth-quarter team

Lorianne Willett
Texas tight end Gunnar Helm runs to make a touchdown during the Longhorns’ game against the Wyoming Cowboys on September 26, 2023.

In his third year as Texas football’s head coach, Steve Sarkisian has finally figured out how to stop his team’s kryptonite of finishing close games.

Last season, Texas had five losses, all by one score or less. In two of three games this season, Texas has gone into the fourth quarter without a lead. Texas is starting Big 12 play 3–0. 

“We’ve just been working on (finishing games),” Sarkisian said. “We’ve been really working on the fourth quarter aspect in practice and throughout training camp, and how vital the fourth quarter is.”

Sarkisian’s heavy emphasis on finishing games has paid off, with the Longhorns coming to life in the fourth quarter in its last two games. Texas was held scoreless in the third quarter against both Alabama and Wyoming, but responded with two explosive 21-point fourth quarters.

Against Alabama, the Crimson Tide took a three-point lead at the very end of the third quarter. After the light show and a packed Bryant-Denny stadium singing the iconic “Dixieland Delight,” sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers just needed three plays to go 75 yards and find junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell in the end zone to jump back in front. 

Ewers had a near-perfect fourth quarter thanks to the long ball he had struggled with for so long, throwing six passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, both to Mitchell. Sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks also added a touchdown that was set up by a senior defensive back Jerrin Thompson interception. 

“Last year and the year before in the fourth quarter we would always just seem to slow down and back off,” Brooks said. “We just emphasize (finishing) a lot knowing that the fourth quarter is really the important quarter and we need to finish games.”

Brooks finished the game for Texas against Wyoming when the passing game was not working at all, running for 87 of his 167 yards in the fourth quarter. 61 of his 87 yards came on an explosive run where he was eventually tackled at Wyoming’s five-yard line, setting up an Ewers rushing touchdown.

Sarkisian said that his team’s fourth-quarter offensive success comes from its ability to adapt and stretch the playbook and belief in itself to make big plays.

“Our psyche right now is there’s a real level of belief that if we can just stay the course and keep trying to execute our style of football, good things will happen,” Sarkisian said. “In turn, it’s been two weeks in a row where we’ve played our best football in the fourth quarter.”

Finishing games is not just on the offense, but the defense has also played its part to make key stops. Thompson has made several big fourth-quarter plays, including a pick-six against Wyoming. Thompson was not the only one making big defensive plays; in both games, many members of the secondary stepped up.

Against Alabama, multiple members of the defense stepped up to hold the Tide to just one fourth-quarter touchdown. Jahdae Barron, a senior defensive back and leader, knows why Texas’ defense is so hard to beat, especially at the end of games.

“We’re just playing for one another,” Barron said. “We always look to the left and look to the right. And we’re just playing for one another. We love each other and we know how much we put in during the summer.” 

This week, Texas will travel to Baylor for its first game in the Big 12 farewell tour. To stay undefeated, Texas will need to continue its strong play throughout all four quarters, not just the last. 

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Double Coverage Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Double Coverage Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.