No. 3 Football bows out of College Football Playoff against No. 2 Washington


NEW ORLEANS – The University of Texas football program had an opportunity to complete one of the greatest come-from-behind efforts in college football history, but a fourth-down pass into the end zone was deflected away as the third-ranked Longhorns fell to the second-ranked Washington Huskies, 37-31, in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs.

Trailing 37-28 following a 27-yard field goal from Washington’s Grady Gross, quarterback Quinn Ewers and the Longhorn offense setup shop at its 25-yard line with 2:34 remaining in the game’s final quarter. Ewers orchestrated four consecutive plays that resulted in a first down and moved Texas down into the red zone following an 8-yard scramble by the second-year signal caller combined with a 10-yard holding penalty against the Husky defense.  

Despite the drive stalling three plays later, junior place kicker Bert Auburn converted a 25-yard field goal attempt with 1:09 left on the clock for his 29th made field goal on the season, tying him with Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock (2011) for the second most in the Big 12 Conference’s single season. 

Even though the Longhorns (12-2) were unable to recover an onside kick opportunity, the Texas defense — a unit led by linebacker Jaylen Ford, who finished with a game-high 10 tackles, and Byron Murphy II, who became the first defensive lineman in the program’s bowl history to record a rushing touchdown when he scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter — bowed up to force Washington to punt for a third time on the evening after holding the Husky offense to just five yards on three plays. 

Jordan Whittington was back deep to haul in Jack McCallister’s 28-yard punt. On the play, Whittington was interfered with thus resulting in Texas’ ensuing starting field possession moving from the Texas 16-yard line to the Longhorn 31. 

With no timeouts and 71 yards standing between Texas and a date in its first national championship game appearance since 2009, the offense jogged back out onto the turf of the Caesars Superdome in front of a capacity crowd of 68,791 and went to work. 

After back-to-back incompletions intended for Ja’Tavion Sanders, who passed David Thomas (2002-05) for the most receptions by a tight end in program history throughout Monday night’s action, Ewers and Whittington connected on a 41-yard third down pass attempt to move the offense down to the Washington 28-yard line. 

With 20 seconds remaining, Ewers found Jaydon Blue, who scored Texas’ first touchdown on the night with a 5-yard scoring run midway through the first quarter, along the right sideline for a 16-yard completion. 

Following a Washington timeout with 15 ticks remaining, Blue hauled in another pass from Ewers for a 1-yard loss but was able to get out of bounds to stop the clock. On the next play, Ewers threw a pass towards Adonai Mitchell, who hauled in a 1-yard pass from Ewers seven minutes earlier in the quarter, in the back of the end zone. But it sailed harmlessly out of bounds. 

With five seconds remaining in the game, Ewers, who recorded his sixth 300-yard passing game (318) on the season, the most by a Texas quarterback since Colt McCoy in 2008, attempted a pass towards Blue on the right sideline. But defensive pressure from Washington’s Mishael Powell forced an early throw from the Southlake native. 

However, as a result of the early throw, one second remained in the game, giving Texas one last scoring opportunity.

Ewers looked towards Mitchell, again, as the 6-foot-4 receiver out of Missouri City, Texas was lined up to the right of the formation, across from Washington safety Makell Esteen. But, unlike earlier in the quarter, a jump-ball throw towards the back-right corner of the end zone intended for Mitchell was deflected away by Esteen, bringing an end to one of the best football seasons in Texas history. 

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