Longhorns overcome sluggish start to blow out New Mexico State

Posted Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Texas Longhorns did not begin their season the way they wanted to.

Twenty-eight minutes into the game, Texas was trailing a supposedly overmatched New Mexico State team and had already committed three turnovers. That all changed in a hurry.

David Ash threw two long touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the first half to give the Longhorns a seven-point halftime lead. They opened five consecutive touchdown drives for Texas, which totaled a school-record 715 yards and beat the Aggies 56-7 Saturday night in front of 99,623 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

“We’re not happy with the way we played in the first half, but that’s a sign of a mature team,” co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. “I don’t think we would have done that a year or two ago.”

John Harris hauled in a 54-yard touchdown pass from Ash with 1:48 remaining in the first half, followed by a 66-yard strike from Ash to Daje Johnson merely 40 seconds later.

Johnson was the catalyst of the quick turnaround, also scoring on the first drive of the second half on a 24-yard run. After saying earlier in the week he wanted to have an impact similar to what Tavon Austin had at West Virginia last year, Johnson caught three passes for 67 yards and ran for 62 yards on six carries.

“When he steps on the field, he believes he’s the very best player on the field,” Applewhite said. “He has phenomenal hands, return-game skills and open-field skills. He’s just a very talented player.”

Ash scrambled down the right sideline for a 55-yard score on the next drive. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns — one a 74-yard screen pass to Malcolm Brown and another a 25-yard fade to Mike Davis in the fourth quarter. Ash also ran for 91 yards and a touchdown.

“We were getting yards but we weren’t able to capitalize because of turnovers and penalties,” Ash said. “You feel that shift when the momentum starts building. We’re a good team when that happens.”

This all came following a dismal start to the game, which saw Davis lose a fumble and Ash throw a pair of interceptions. After Clint Barnard picked off an errant Ash throw in the second quarter, senior Andrew McDonald capped off a nine-play, 64-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown toss to Joshua Bowen to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead.

It was the only time New Mexico State scored.

“What we did today is eliminate the big play,” Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We were put in a lot of adverse situations early on and I was proud of the way we responded.”

Texas quickly erased that deficit, scoring 35 unanswered points and racking up 345 yards over an 8:37 span after being blanked for the first 28:12 of the game. The Longhorns scored four touchdowns of 50 yards or more Saturday after scoring six such touchdowns last season.

Jalen Overstreet added 92 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the last two drives.

“We were trying. It just wasn’t working,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We talked at halftime about offensively we were trying to force runs and there wasn’t anybody outside. We could’ve thrown it if we wanted to. We just decided to take it. This is going to be an offense where you have to take what’s there.”

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