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

Senior night spotlight: Robinson scores two touchdowns, secures Big 12 Championship ticket

Kennedy Weatherby
Running back Keilan Robinson runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the game against Texas Tech on Nov. 24.

Senior running back Keilan Robinson kicked off the second half with a boom, and six points. 

On the ensuing kickoff of Texas’ final regular season game, the Texas Tech Red Raiders booted the ball to the Texas five-yard line. Looking to set the tone, Robinson stopped, caught and burst into a clump of orange and white, emerging out of the pile and racing down the field.

“It’s just a bunch of excitement,” Robinson said. “It’s a little overwhelming sometimes when you see a wide open hole and you can’t even believe it.”

Robinson evaded the final man, broke a tackle attempt at the Texas 35-yard line and drifted into the endzone. The peace sign he flashed as he strutted into the endzone was the cherry on top of a monumental kick return, Texas’ first since 2020.

“Keilan (Robinson) is really important to our program,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “For him to have that return it was, wow. Talk about a storybook ending for a guy on that front.”

Texas defeated Texas Tech 57-7, by far the largest margin of victory all season for the Longhorns as they clinched their first Big 12 Championship berth since 2018. Texas moved to 11-1, the best record for the Longhorns since 2009.

“It felt really good to see that the hard work of the offseason and camp (came) into fruition, ” Robinson said. “We finished the year 11-1, now we’re playing for the Big 12 championship. … We’re nowhere near done.”

Robinson wasn’t the tone-setter in just the second half, however. After a Texas Tech three-and-out to start the game, the Longhorns received the ball in prime field position. Six plays later, the ball was at the Texas Tech 10-yard line, with redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers throwing the ball to three separate targets. 

Enter Robinson.

Lined up in the pistol formation, Robinson bounced to the left of Ewers. After faking the hand-off to freshman running back Cedric Baxter, Ewers flipped a pass to Robinson. Turning on the jets, Robinson took the inside route, thanks to an impressive block by senior wide receiver Jordan Whittington, to the house, starting the scoring in an eventual onslaught by the Texas offense.

“It’s hard to come by a receiver that can block on the perimeter,” Robinson said. “It creates a lot of big plays, it’s very valuable in that aspect of our game.”

Robinson was the king of efficiency on Friday, having touched the ball just one other time in the entire game during Texas Tech’s sole first half kickoff. Robinson averaged 40 yards on his three plays, making the most of his limited chances on such a loaded offensive front. With the help of Robinson, Texas amassed 528 total yards with 14 different players getting touches on the offense.

“We have athletes all around that are capable of making game changing plays at any given moment,” Ewers said. “I think today it was a showcase of how many athletes we truly do have.”

The entire backfield of Texas showed out in Friday’s win, racking up over 300 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Jaydon Blue had a breakout game, rushing for 121 yards on just 10 carries, including a 69-yard explosion for Texas’ second touchdown of the game.

“Jaydon Blue has played really good the last three weeks,” Sarkisian said. “He ran hard, he ran physical, he caught the ball well, he’s a very versatile player. I’m so proud of him for the journey he’s been on.”

Blue’s career high leading up to Friday night was just 55 yards, and a game like this is exactly what Texas needs from their unit since they are missing sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks, who tore his ACL two weeks prior against TCU.

A final surprise to the rushing game, which featured seven different ball carriers, was true freshman quarterback Arch Manning. The young phenom and No. 1 recruit in the nation for his class, according to 247Sports, checked in for the first time in his Texas career and gave an exciting performance. Despite having just 30 passing yards, Manning ran for 17 yards in his first drive at the helm, showing off speed that no quarterback on the roster has apart from the freshman.

“He used his legs really well,” Sarkisian said. “(There are) definitely things for him to build upon moving forward but (I’m) happy he was able to get in the game.”

The Longhorns clinched their spot in the Big 12 Championship Game that will take place on Saturday, Dec. 2, with the potential opponent still up in the air. It will be the first time Texas has been in a Big 12 championship game since 2018 and the last chance for the Longhorns to win a Big 12 title.

“It feels great,” Sarkisian said. “It’s wonderful. But the work is not done.”

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About the Contributor
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.