AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas had watched Iowa State rally to tie the game with 28 seconds left and the Longhorns, and everyone else, were getting ready to settle for overtime in what had already been another wild Big 12 shootout.
Then first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong had a thought: “Just throw one deep and we’ll see what happens.”
Not once, but twice.
Like a thunderbolt, Tyrone Swoopes connected with Jaxon Shipley and John Harris to set up the Longhorns on the Iowa State 4. Not waiting to take another snap, Strong sent Nick Rose on for a 21-yard field goal with 3 seconds left.
Rose drilled it, giving Texas a 48-45 victory Saturday night that could be just the shot in the arm the Longhorns need to turn around what has been struggle of a season.
“You get a shot of juice (with) the comeback,” Strong said of getting a critical win as Texas (3-4, 2-2 Big 12) tries to claw back from a 2-4 start to become bowl eligible.
The four losses were Texas’ worst start since 1956 the year before coach Darrell Royal took over the program and built the Longhorns into a perennial power. In 16 seasons under Strong’s predecessor Mack Brown, the Longhorns missed a bowl game only once, in 2010.
The victory also will likely be a huge lift for Swoopes, who made the big plays to push Texas to the win just two weeks after impatient fans were calling for him to be replaced.
“We watch him continue to develop right in front of us, to grow up,” Strong said.
Swoopes led Texas on what appeared to be the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, running and passing the Longhorns 75 yards in 10 plays to Malcolm Brown’s second touchdown run that put Texas up 45-38.
Iowa State responded with an impressive march right back down the field and had the game set to go into overtime when Richardson connected with Bibbs in the back of the end zone.
Texas unleashed Swoopes’ strong right arm to get the win. His first pass covered 39 yards to Shipley and he zipped another deep ball to Harris to the Iowa State 4. Texas had two wait to see if Harris’ sideline catch would hold up under review.
“Earlier I’d left a couple short. I figured what’s the worst that can happen if I let it fly,” Swoopes said.
Iowa State defensive back Nigel Tribune was beaten by Harris for the catch.
“We had the game won,” Tribune said. “I’ve got to make that play and force a difficult field goal instead of the easy field goal.”
Swoopes only became the starter after David Ash was injured and ultimately had to give up football because of recurring concussion problems. But after acknowledging he was nervous two weeks ago in a loss to Baylor, Swoopes has put up impressive games in back-to-back weeks.
And Rose, who was struggling two games ago, has made all four attempts in the last two games, including a 45-yarder in the third quarter against Iowa State.
What may be unsettling for Texas is that a defense that looked like the best in the Big 12 could be so picked apart by the Cyclones. Yet the unit still came up with two huge plays to help get the victory.
Dylan Haines, a former walk-on, returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. An interception by Duke Thomas set up another score early in the fourth quarter.
Richardson overcame the miscues and kept driving the Cyclones to responding touchdowns until the defense gave up the two long passes to set up Texas’ winning field goal.
Brown ran for 72 yards and two touchdowns for Texas. Aaron Wimberly ran for 110 yards and a touchdown for Iowa State.
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