CJ Baxter ran 16 yards for the winning touchdown with 5:37 remaining as No. 8 Texas made the plays it needed down the stretch to outlast host Houston 31-24 on Saturday in Big 12 Conference action.
The Longhorns (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) dominated the game’s first 17-plus minutes minutes when they roared to a 21-0 lead but sputtered thereafter, with Houston tying the contest at 24 on Jack Martin’s 40-yard field goal halfway through the fourth quarter.
That set the stage for Baxter and his deciding scoring run as Texas ground out a 53-yard touchdown march that featured five runs and just one pass, a strategy dictated by an injury to quarterback Quinn Ewers on a hard hit on a scramble late in the third quarter.
Houston (3-4, 1-3) drove to the Texas 10-yard line but Donovan Smith misfired on a fourth-down and 1 pass with 1:03 to play.
Ewers finished 23 of 29 passing for 211 yards and two TDs in the win. Jonathon Brooks led Texas with 99 yards on 20 carries and added eight catches for 51 yards.
Smith passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns but also had a fumble and an interception.
Texas marched 75 yards in 11 snaps on its opening possession to a 14-yard Ewers-to-Adonai Mitchell TD pass and a 7-0 lead. Ewers connected with Xavier Worthy on a 42-yard touchdown pass on the Longhorns’ ensuing drive to push their advantage to 14-0.
Savion Red’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 12:49 to play in the second quarter expanded the Texas lead to 21-0.
Houston answered on 32-yard TD pass from Smith to Matthew Golden to cut the Longhorns’ lead to 21-7 with 6:07 to play before halftime. The Cougars pulled within 21-14 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Joseph Manjack IV with 26 seconds to play until halftime.
The Cougars tied it at 21 on the first possession of the third quarter via a 2-yard TD pass from Smith to Golden that came two snaps after Manjack hauled in a 35-yard pass at the Texas 1.
Bert Auburn’ 25-yard field goal 24-21 at the 3:17 mark of the third quarter put Texas back in front. The Cougars tied the contest at 24 on Martin’s 40-yard field goal.
–Field Level Media