HOUSTON — In a messy game, decided by a punter, Texas overcame their many absences to win the Texas Bowl 33-16 against Missouri. Missouri (7-6) saw their six-game win streak end while Texas (7-6) caps off the season with a win after a tough regular season ending loss to Texas Tech.
Punter Michael Dickson won MVP honors in an outstanding performance. It’s rare to see a punter win an MVP award, but Dickson deserved it, 10 of his 11 punts landed inside the 20-yard line, while seven of those landing inside the 10.
The first half was a tale of offensive woes on both sides. Sophomore Shane Buechele, got the first reps at quarterback for the Longhorns and opened with a quick touchdown drive, finished off with a 22-yard pass to Daniel Young. Penalties killed Missouri early as two pass interferences were instrumental to the Longhorns’ early success.
After Buechele went three and out on his next drive, freshman Sam Ehlinger took over. The former Austin Westlake star couldn’t get much going on his first drive, before leading his own touchdown drive, highlighted by a 42-yard catch by Daniel Young and finished off with a seven-yard touchdown to John Burt.
On the offensive side, the electric Tigers offense struggled, due to both bad field position and penalties.Missouri got their first first down with 1:15 left in the first quarter, a 23-yard strike from Lock to Kendal Blanton. The Tigers finally had life, but the Texas defense stood their ground, and the Tigers punted yet again. After another Texas punt, the Tigers were able to get on the board.
Drew Lock found top target, J’Mon Moore for a 19-yard pass on the way to a 50-yard touchdown drive. Ish Witter punched it in from four yards out to bring Missouri within seven points. The Texas defense took over in the second quarter as P.J Locke stripped Witter and was picked up by Anthony Wheeler who rumbled for a 38-yard score to put Texas up 21-7.
The ensuing Missouri drive was another turnover as Davante Davis forced a fumble that was recovered by Breckyn Hager, wearing number 60 in honor of the late Tommy Nobis, to set up the Longhorns in Missouri territory.
The offense wasn’t on the same level, they couldn’t capitalize off the turnover, but a deep punt pinned Missouri way back inside their 20-yard line. Dickson set the Tigers back in their own territory with two punts late in the half as the Longhorns took a 21-7 into halftime. A
Missouri started the second half with a bang as Drew Lock found Johnathon Johnson for a 79-yard strike on the first play from scrimmage. The Tigers would miss the extra point. Missouri would add a field goal later in the quarter to bring the Tigers within five. But, that’s when Dickson left his mark.
After another Texas three and out, Missouri got the ball again inside their own 5-yard line. Drew Lock couldn’t handle a snap which flew over his head and out of the end zone for a safety, putting Texas back up by seven heading into the final quarter.
Texas opened the final quarter with their first offensive score since the first quarter, a 41-yard field goal, to go up 26-16. Buechele did not play in the second half due to a groin injury. That left the game up to Sam Ehlinger, who just needed to run the clock down.
With Missouri driving late in the game, the Texas defense made the biggest stop of the season as Devante Davis intercepted Lock to ice the game with 3:15 left. In his final game of his Texas career, Armanti Foreman scored a 18-yard touchdown with a minute left off of a jet sweep to cap off the scoring. The defense forced four turnovers on the night.
“We’ve had to play lights-out defense, we cant beat Missouri 45-42, our offense isn’t good enough for that,” said Head Coach Tom Herman after the game. “We’ve seen some great quarterbacks this year, and it was a lot like Oklahoma State ‘just stop the run.”
Herman also appreciated the effort to send his senior class on top.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the senior class, they were the glue that held this up and down season together,” Herman said “They knew what is ahead and they wanted to leave their mark on this next chapter of Texas Football. This senior class deserves a lot of credit for this win, it’s really important to call themselves a winner, it’s really important to these guys to walk around their hometown being able to call themselves Texas Bowl Champions, and it’s a big step forward.”
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