Against Ole Miss, David Ash was good. On Saturday night, David Ash proved that he is ready to lead this offense into Big 12 play.
Down by two points with 2:34 left to play, David Ash needed to have the drive of his life. He did just that and led the Longhorns to a 41-36 win over Oklahoma State.
On fourth and six on the Texas 29-yard line, he kept Texas alive and sent a quick pass to D.J. Grant for a 29-yard gain.
Two plays later, he gave Mike Davis a second chance. Earlier in the game, Davis dropped a pass in the end zone. This time around, Davis caught Ash’s pass and gave the Longhorns a first down at the 5-yard line.
“He’d came to me after he barely missed that deep throw early in the first half,” Ash said. “He said ‘just give me another chance and I said ‘alright, I’ll give you another chance’ and he wasn’t lying. He was ready to make the play.”
Those late game heroics led to Joe Bergeron’s game-winning 2-yard run and the Longhorns’ win in their Big 12 opener.
While the offense thrived, the defense struggled. Some of the issues were due to injuries and illness, but the defense allowed the Cowboys 576 yards. Jordan Hicks, who was out with a hip injury, was sorely missed and the Longhorns’ problems with missed tackling weren’t solved over the bye week.
The defense’s woes began on the second play of the game. Missed tackles by safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Adrian Phillips allowed running back Joseph Randle to score a 69-yard touchdown. Randle ran all over the defense and accumulated 152-yards during the game.
“We figured they would try to pound it on the ground and that’s exactly what they did,” said senior defensive end Alex Okafor. “At some points we looked bad, at some points we looked great at it.”-
The offense came to the defense’s rescue and evened the score on its first drive. On third and 14, David Ash passed to Jeremy Hills for a 15-yard gain to continue the drive. The next play, he threw a 44-yard pass into the corner of the end zone to Jaxon Shipley.
“This last week and this week just showing that our receiver core can make plays,” Shipley said. “You can see that from today and so we’re just so excited to go out there and for the offense to depend on us receivers and for us to just be able to come through for the team.“
The Ash to Shipley combination aided the offense all night and Shipley had three touchdown receptions of 44, 20 and seven-yards. Against Oklahoma State last season, Ash went 0-for-8 on passes over 10-yards.
But this isn’t the same Ash.
The Cowboys evened it up at 14 with J.W. Walsh’s 44-yard pass to Josh Stewart. Phillips was looking for the big tackle on the play, but instead, was injured. He returned later in the game.
Saturday night was filled with quick responses by both teams.
D.J. Monroe answered the Cowboys score with a 100-yard punt return for a touchdown, giving the Longhorns a 7-point lead heading into the second quarter. This was Monroe’s third punt return for a touchdown in his career.
Malcolm Brown sprained his ankle on his first touch of the night and the Longhorns only had 59 rushing yards in the game.
But Shipley and the wide receivers took control of the offense.
Ash threw his first interception of the season when Tyler Johnson picked him off during the third quarter. While he responded well to the turnover, the defense did not.
During the Cowboy’s drive following the interception, Walsh passed to Tracy Moore three times for gains of 27, 23 and 19-yards. Quandre Diggs had two pass breakups on the drive and one prevented a touchdown by Moore. The Cowboys ended the drive with a 38-yard field goal.
After not being able to score in the second quarter, Ash finally broke down the Cowboy defense with his third touchdown pass to Shipley, giving the Longhorns a 28-20 lead.
But, once again, with the help of a 36-yard punt return, the Cowboys responded with a quick touchdown drive. The Cowboys only needed to plays to score. Walsh sent a 20-yard pass to John Goodlett in the end zone. They failed to score on the two-point conversion.
Randle continued to pick apart the Texas defense and he scored a two-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 33-28 lead.
Joe Bergeron’s one-yard touchdown run put the Longhorns ahead 34-33 after they couldn’t score on the two-point conversion. Things got tight with 3:14 left when the Cowboys kicked a 24-yard field goal to take a 36-34 lead.
But, head coach Mack Brown was fine with that.
“We told that defense that if you hold them to a field goal, we’ll win the game,” Brown said. “We told the offense the same thing. They’re going to hold them to a field goal and you’re going to win the game.”
Ash and the offense did just that with last minute heroics. Ash’s first start last season was against Oklahoma State. He went 22-for-40 with 139 yards.
On Saturday, he went 30-for-38 with 304 yards and proved he can be clutch. But, more importantly, he proved that he that he is ready to command this offense.