Senior wide receiver Jordan Whittington scored his first touchdown of the season deep into the third quarter of the team’s tight matchup against Iowa State on Saturday. The touchdown was Texas’ first of the night and gave Texas the positive shift in momentum it needed to beat Iowa State on the road.
The touchdown ended a nine-play, 91-yard drive that started from an Iowa State punt.
On his first drive of the second half, sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers led his team storming down the field to take control of the game. Ewers used the success of freshman running back CJ Baxter, who accounted for 34 of the 91 yards on four carries to take time off the clock while moving the ball down the field.
Ewers only threw one incomplete pass on the drive and used his selection of wide receivers to cruise to a touchdown.
Junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell missed a first down by less than a yard, but it set up the touchdown play to Whittington. Ewers found a wide-open Whittington, who caught the ball in the middle of the field with a clear path to the end zone.
His first touchdown of the season came at an opportune time.
Texas struggled in the first half with penalties and went into halftime with just a 6-3 lead. Mitchell had an impressive one-handed touchdown catch, but it was called back for holding and Texas had to settle for a field goal.
Later in the second quarter, junior wide receiver Xavier Worthy returned a punt worth 85 yards for a touchdown. Once again, the score was called back for a penalty, as there was an illegal block in the back where Worthy started his return.
Texas ended the first half having committed six penalties for 49 yards. Texas cleaned up its game and had one penalty in the second half.
The rest of the team responded to the momentum the offense created. On its next drive, Iowa State scored a touchdown, but senior defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat rose above everyone to block the extra point attempt.
Sophomore defensive back Austin Jordan scooped up the ball and took it 82 yards to the end zone for the safety.
On its next defensive possession, senior defensive back Jerrin Thompson picked off Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht for his second interception of the season.
After the interception, Ewers and the Texas offense kept the energy rolling. After several players, including Worthy, left the game with injuries, Ewers utilized Texas’s depth. Junior tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders missed some time in the game due to injury, allowing junior tight end Gunnar Helm to step up.
To start the fourth quarter, head coach Steve Sarkisian took a gamble with his fourth-down play calling. The gamble paid off as Ewers connected with Helm who found his way into the end zone to increase Texas’ lead to two scores.
Whittington has only scored one touchdown for Texas this season, but his impact has still been significant. Against TCU, he missed the first tackle on Ewers’ interception but ran down the field to force a fumble and give Texas the ball back.
The senior returned to Texas for his fifth year and now has the chance to lead the team to a Big 12 Championship. With the win, Texas moves to 10-1, 7-1 in conference play and stands alone in first place in the Big 12.
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