Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Tech players stormed the field on Friday night while one Red Raider ran across the turf carrying a bright red flag that pierced through Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Longhorn players watched on as the Texas Tech sideline celebrated after spoiling Texas’ senior night. Several Longhorn players were seen laying on their backs, some threw their helmets in frustration, but most had the same, stunned look on their face.

Head coach Tom Herman and his team left Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the last time this season and were forced to accept that they let yet another close game slip through their fingertips.

“I’m still stunned,” junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “I’m just trying to get over that hump. It’s just super frustrating. I know how hard we work and everything we’ve done this whole year to achieve something and create a foundation for the future … 6–6 is not what we wanted to be. We should've won a lot more games. It’s very frustrating.”

Texas’ 27-23 loss to Texas Tech marks the Longhorns’ fourth loss by five points or less this season. But as the burnt orange look forward to bowl season, the only numbers that will be seen is their record: 6–6.

Texas Tech’s win over Herman and the Longhorns caught the Longhorn faithful off guard. The Red Raiders’ victory comes less than a week after Texas’ 28-14 victory over then-No. 24 West Virginia.

Herman was emotional following the game and during his press conference with the media on Friday night. Even he couldn’t explain Texas’ inconsistency issues and how his team went from the highs of beating a ranked team on the road and earning bowl eligibility to losing to a previously 5–6 team at home.

“I don’t know,” Herman said. “They're kids … But I don’t have an answer for you.”

Amongst the last few players to leave the stadium was junior linebacker Malik Jefferson, who has yet to announce whether he will return for his senior season or opt to enter the 2018 Draft. But he made sure to do one thing before leaving the field.

With a handful of people remaining in the stadium, Jefferson stopped and kissed the white Longhorn logo on the burnt orange carpet of the tunnel. Then, Jefferson continued up the tunnel and left Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for what many believe was the last time.

“It's gonna be a hard decision because I look in the locker room, I look at those guys to the left and right of me and I just smile because I love the things that we’ve been through,” Jefferson said. “It’s been a tough past three years and guys understand the love that I have for them … I just didn't want to take any regrets or miss any opportunities that I have for this stadium and the love of these fans.”

Although Texas won’t play in Austin until next season, the Longhorns still have one game remaining. Herman admitted it was a bit tougher to reflect on the improvements within the program after the stunning loss.

But he did find a silver lining.

“The silver lining in all of this is that it’s not the last time these seniors will put on the burnt orange and white,” Herman said. “We have an opportunity to go play in a bowl game for the first time in three years here. We are dead set in making it our mission in life to make sure that these seniors go out with a positive experience, with a win in the bowl game, wherever that may be.”

Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

It was a collapse — a catastrophic, epic collapse.

Yet, in a way, it was typical of a program that’s spent years wandering in no man’s land.

Friday night was primarily supposed to be about the seniors, who played their final game under the lights of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. But above all else, it was supposed to be about continued progress.

The footprint on this game in the end was one of disaster, though. The Longhorns suffered a 27-23 defeat to Texas Tech after squandering a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

“There's no words for it,” junior linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “To come up short, it’s super frustrating. Guys understand what was at risk at the beginning of the game and throughout the whole game.”

Texas turned the ball over four times in the second half and never could put the Red Raiders away, despite many opportunities to do so.

The Longhorns led 23-13 early in the fourth quarter after junior kicker Joshua Rowland booted a 40-yard field goal.

And then it all went south.

Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek marched the Red Raiders down the field in six plays for a touchdown drive on the ensuing possession. Shimonek fired a 13-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Vasher, who then flashed the Horns sign down which drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Texas Tech closed the deficit to 23-20 and was firmly back in the game.

But with just over two minutes to play, Texas had a chance to put the game away for good.

Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger had led the Longhorns on a promising drive that was moving well into Texas Tech territory.

Ehlinger has been an unpredictable player all season long. He’ll make the head-turning impressive play one moment and then the head-scratching play at the next.

With the Longhorns ready to shut the door on Texas Tech, Ehlinger made Texas fans scratch their heads. On third-and-2 at Texas Tech’s 37-yard line, Texas elected to throw the ball, only for Ehlinger to make a catastrophic error. His pass was intercepted by Texas Tech defensive back Justus Parker, who returned it 55 yards all the way to Texas’ 14-yard line.

“You want to learn from your mistakes and never let them happen again, especially crucial ones like that,” Ehlinger said. “For it to happen again, and let down the team again, it's awful.”                           

Moments later, Shimonek lofted a touchdown pass to Cameron Batson to give the Red Raiders a 27-23 lead with 1:47 to play.

On the ensuing drive, Ehlinger once again marched Texas down the field and into Red Raider territory. Ehlinger had his chance to redeem himself and once again learn from his mistakes.

But with under a minute to play, he made another costly mistake. Ehlinger was intercepted a second time, this time by Texas Tech defensive back Douglass Coleman III, effectively ending the Longhorns’ hopes.

Texas players walked off the field with dejected looks on their faces. Senior wide receiver Armanti Foreman was one of the last players to leave the field. He headed up the tunnel with tears in his eyes, knowing this was his last game at home.

Head coach Tom Herman sat at the podium with a stunned look on his face.

“Losing that way hurts,” Herman said.

The talk from Herman and the Longhorns during the week had been of progress. The Longhorns entered their bout with Texas Tech as 7.5-point favorites riding a wave of momentum from a road victory last week over then-No. 24 West Virginia. Texas had already clinched bowl eligibility. It had a chance to clinch a winning season against Texas Tech, too.

The Longhorns now have plenty of time to reflect on how it all collapsed on Friday night.

“We certainly felt like we had a lot of momentum — and we still will once the sting of this wears off,” Herman said. “We kept fighting. We’ll keep fighting throughout the bowl preparation.”    

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Some players call him old man, others just call him ‘Twuan, but Saturday night, fifth-year senior Antwuan Davis was just the next man up.

Texas adopted the slogan “next man up” in response to players who are forced to step up when the team loses a player to injury. However, with the news of starting cornerback Holton Hill’s season-long suspension combined with the injury of junior nickelback and team captain P.J. Locke III, it begged the question, who is that next man?

That question found an answer when Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley released the ball from his own end zone. The ball left Stanley’s fingertips and right into fifth-year senior Antwuan Davis’ hands. Davis returned the interception all the way to the corner of the endzone to give Texas an early 14-0 lead.

And just like that, Texas found its next man up.

“Once I had the ball, all I could see is the end zone,” Davis said. “I saw the whole d-line blocking, I saw a cornerback come over and throw a block and I said ‘Man thank y’all. This means the most to me.’”

This wasn’t just any ordinary pick-six for Davis, though. This was his payoff for the hard work he put in not only on the field, but in the class.

The defensive back found himself in a predicament last season. After getting redshirted in his his first season at Texas, Davis technically had one fifth and final season of eligibility.

However, in order to play, he needed to graduate.

“This is a guy that needed to pass an ungodly amount of hours in the spring and summer to graduate, and he needed to graduate to be eligible to play this season,” Herman said. “(Safeties coach) Craig Naivar dove into his life and prodded him and taught him and mentored him.”

Davis said he was forced to take five classes during one session, followed by one during an off period and another four during the summer –– all for one more season of eligibility.

As the summer came to a close, Davis received his diploma.

“The day that my diploma came in at the end of the summer and I was cleared for the season, I hugged coach Naivar and I hugged coach Herman because these guys really helped me get all the way through to where I am,” Davis said. “It was such an appreciative moment.”

Several months have passed since Davis got his hands on his diploma, but he said the younger guys on team still ask him about his five-year journey at Texas.

“These guys hung in here with me from spring from two years ago,” Davis said. “Some of the freshman are like, ‘Man how do you do it?’ I’m like man you’ve just got to be patient. You've just gotta wait till your time comes.’

Davis’ time happens to be now. Between Locke’s injury and Hill’s suspension, Davis was asked to step up. And he did. The fifth-year senior recorded a second interception in the second quarter and even recovered a fumbled punt.

After the game, junior safety DeShon Elliott saw Davis walk by.

“What’s up, old man?” Elliot asked.

Despite the teasing, which Davis promises is out of love, Elliott wasn’t surprised by the performance from that “old man.”

“He balled. I knew he could ball,” Elliott said. “I’ve been sitting behind him for two years. I knew when he got in the game, he was gonna take advantage of the opportunity and was gonna do his job and that’s what he did.”

Now, Davis can see the end of his Longhorn career. After the game, the fifth-year senior reflected on his journey on the 40 Acres and expressed his gratitude to his teammates and coaching staff for the help and opportunities along the way. 

And for these last two games, the Longhorns are just asking Davis for one thing in return: be their next man up.

“I tell these guys all the time, I cherish them,” Davis said. “I cherish the guys that I’m in here with. Seeing these young guys develop, I’m like man I wonder what the older guys think of me now. Old man ‘Twuan out there with them young guys. It’s just a real appreciative moment. Having my last one in two weeks, it’s gonna be tough but I really feel like I’m ready for it.”

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Tom Herman doesn't care to look and see what the betting line is on his upcoming game.

The Longhorns were 33-point favorites heading into Saturday night’s meeting against Kansas, a bottom-feeder program that is now 1-9 after Texas’ 42-27 win at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“I didn’t know we were — I don’t ever know what favorite we are, no,” Herman said. “That’s a lot, though.”

Perhaps it was a lot for a Texas team entering Saturday with a 4-5 record, fresh off its worst offensive performance of the season last weekend against TCU in Fort Worth. Never mind the fact that the Longhorns shockingly lost to Kansas last November in Lawrence.

Kansas proved why it was a 33-point underdog from the opening kick, when it attempted to catch the Longhorns off guard in their own house.

After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Jayhawks boldly tried an onside kick. The plan didn’t work, however, as the Longhorns were ready for it and recovered the ball at Kansas’ 49-yard line.

“We’re always prepared for stuff like that,” senior wide receiver Lorenzo Joe said. “Going into this game, you never know what’s gonna happen.”

On Texas’ first play from scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele delivered a 49-yard touchdown pass to Joe, who got behind the Jayhawks’ secondary.

The Longhorns were up 7-0 just nine seconds into the game. But fans would’ve been remiss to not draw flashbacks to last year’s meeting in Lawrence. Texas scored on its first play from scrimmage in that game as well to take an early 7-0 lead over the Jayhawks. The Longhorns went on to lose 24-21 in overtime, one of the worst losses in program history.

This night would not prove haunting for the burnt orange, though. Texas received boosts from a host of players in the first half to grab control of the game, never letting Kansas get firmly within striking distance.

Fifth-year senior defensive back Antwuan Davis needed just one half to turn in the best performance of his Texas career. Davis intercepted the Jayhawks twice, including a pick-six to put Texas up 14-0, and recovered a Kansas fumble on a punt return.

“It’s a great feeling to be out there with this defense, with this team,” Davis said. “I don’t want to be a missing piece. I want to be a part of this puzzle.”

Freshman running back Toneil Carter and sophomore wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey each rushed for scores in the first half. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who didn’t start despite being cleared from a head injury, came in late in the first quarter and tossed an eight-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight end Cade Brewer.

Early in the second quarter, Texas tried its hand at a 44-yard field goal, but senior Mitchell Becker missed wide left, another chapter in the Longhorns’ kicking woes this season.

Texas scored more points in the opening quarter on Saturday night — 28 — than it has total in five of its games this season. The Longhorns led 35-17 heading into halftime.

But the second half saw mostly offensive ineptitude.

“I think with such an inexperienced (offense) that we have right now, we’ve got to do a better job of not worrying about what the score is and not worrying about how the defense is playing and not worrying about ‘Oh, dang it, they stopped us, we have to punt,’” Herman said.

The biggest story out of Saturday night was simple — the Longhorns (5-5, 4-3 Big 12) got one win closer to bowl eligibility. One more win can help salvage what has been an erratic first season under Herman.

“There’s no lack of confidence, or there’s no issue with perception,” Herman said. “Winning for us right now is going to be hard, and that’s OK. That’s OK. As long as we win.”

Photo Credit: Gabby Lanza | Daily Texan Staff

It was an all-too-familiar sight for the majority of the 92,506 spectators at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium: yet another heartbreaking loss.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns walked off the field in dejection, as they watched their opponent storm the field following another painful defeat.

This time, it was No. 10 Oklahoma State celebrating a 13-10 victory.

Stunned looks ran across DKR on Saturday afternoon –– except for a small, bright orange section on the visiting side of the stadium where the Oklahoma State fans celebrated the Cowboys’ win.

“I don’t know when we’re going to break through that barrier,” head coach Tom Herman said. “I thought it was going to be this week. We had an unbelievable week of preparation. The guys were focused and ready to go. But it wasn't.”

Texas took the Cowboys, a team boasting the top offense in the nation, into overtime with the score deadlocked, 10-10. Saturday marked Texas’ third overtime of the season, and the Longhorns appeared to be primed to polish off a major upset, until they didn’t.

Oklahoma State had the first possession of overtime, but the Longhorn defense did what it had done all game: prevented the potent Oklahoma State offense from entering the endzone. Texas forced Oklahoma State to kick a field goal, giving freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger the ball with an opportunity to win the game.

With Texas less than seven yards away from winning the game and pulling off Texas’ biggest win of the season, Ehlinger took the snap. The freshman quarterback rolled to his left but was quickly forced to backpedal after the Cowboy defense forced pressure.

Unable to plant his feet, Ehlinger lobbed the ball into the endzone, barely in the vicinity of junior receiver Jerrod Heard and sophomore Devin Duvernay. The ball floated several yards away from Heard and Duvernay and right into the hands of Oklahoma State senior cornerback and San Antonio-native Ramon Richards, who fell to the ground to end the game.

“It’s awful,” Ehlinger said. “Losing sucks. That’s every week that we lose … I just made a mistake. I thought that Jerrod [Heard] was going to circle back up to the back of the end zone for a jump ball. That’s why I put it up there for him and for a chance to win. It was a mistake.

Texas’ 13-10 loss marks the Longhorns’ fourth defeat of the season, and another close one at that. Overtime forced the Longhorns to do something they hadn’t done all game: depend on the offense to close things out. After a strong defensive effort, Texas’ offensive unit failed to ice the contest.

The Longhorn defense, however, kept the burnt orange in the game by holding the nation’s top offense, who came into the matchup averaging over 48 points per game, to 13 points –– the first time the Cowboys haven’t scored 20 points or more in 36 games.

But it wasn’t enough, not with the mere 10 points the offense put up.

“(The defense) played well enough to beat any team,” junior running back Chris Warren III said. “We’ve got to help them, point blank.”

Texas is now coming off of back-to-back one-possession losses to then-No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State.

The Longhorns’ loss to the Cowboys also marks their second overtime loss to a top-10 team. However, despite a 3–4 record (2–2 Big 12), Texas has been in every game this season.

Texas is close, and Herman knows it.

“I told our guys all week, after the loss to Oklahoma, that we were close and that close is a lot better than the alternative,” Herman said. “They’ve been a part of teams that were far away, and you know it when they are. This one’s not."

Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

In the northwest corner of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the only thing some Longhorn players could do was simply kneel down and process another agonizing loss.

The play that had dashed Texas’ hopes of a breakthrough victory over No. 10 Oklahoma State was just too excruciating to accept.

Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger stood bewildered and pointed in the direction of where everything came crashing down. He couldn’t believe what he had just done.

Ehlinger’s pass into the corner of the north end zone on third and four in overtime was nowhere close to a Longhorn receiver. Oklahoma State safety Ramon Richards had no trouble intercepting Ehlinger’s gift of a pass, the final play of Texas’ 13-10 overtime loss to the Cowboys.

“I feel like we're in every game,” junior safety DeShon Elliott said. “We don't know how to finish. We'll get to that point. We'll keep digging and eventually we'll get to diamonds.”

As Oklahoma State players began to storm the field, senior wide receiver Lorenzo Joe dropped straight to a knee.

Senior wide receiver Dorian Leonard crouched down in disgust, then was consoled by injured senior tight end Andrew Beck.

Junior linebacker Malik Jefferson also went down to the turf. Jefferson had said earlier in the week that the Longhorns just needed one more turn for Texas to break through. But on Saturday afternoon, Texas took a turn back into the wrong direction, dropping to 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in Big 12 play.

It was the third time this season the Longhorns went into overtime, and it was the second time they came up a play short.

“It’s tough — I have no words for it honestly,” Jefferson said.

Fellow junior linebacker Breckyn Hager was the first to console Jefferson.

Hager turned in one of the best performances of his career on Saturday. The Austin Westlake High School product set a career-high in sacks with two, tallied three tackles and had a quarterback hurry. Hager said after the game he wanted to bounce back after dropping a crucial red-zone interception in the third quarter of last week’s loss to Oklahoma in Dallas.

“I just knew there was a lot of opportunity out there for me, and I had to take it,” Hager said. “I felt real down on myself about dropping that OU (interception).”

On a day when the Longhorns held the No. 1 offense in the nation to just 10 points in regulation, Texas still couldn’t close out another game. After the loss, few words were used to describe the pain of yet another gut-wrenching result.

The one question seemingly hanging over the Longhorns’ minds after Saturday’s defeat was simple: when will things finally turn around?

And maybe that was the question so many Longhorn players on bended knee were trying to answer in the wake of another painful loss on Saturday afternoon. The upperclassmen in particular — Joe, Leonard, Elliott, Jefferson and Hager — have spent their entire Texas careers confronting that question and dealing with frustration.

And they know time is running thin.

“This upper class — it’s special,” Hager said. “We’re tired of talking about it to you guys and saying that. But we are special, and we are bringing positives out of these negative outcomes.”

But the only positives that haven’t followed are the ones that teams are ultimately judged by — wins.

“We’re very close. It’s still not over with,” Elliott said. “Because we believe in each other. The defense believes in the offense, the offense believes in the defense and we believe in our coaches. We’re a family. So eventually, we’ll rally together and get things right.”