AUSTIN, Texas — It was a game that went back and forth throughout, ending with last season's Heisman Trophy winner leading Alabama to a 20-19 win over the Texas Longhorns in Austin Saturday.
Down 16-10, Tide quarterback Bryce Young led Alabama on two straight scoring drives in the final minutes, with the last drive leading to a Will Reichard 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds left.
Texas lost starting quarterback Quinn Ewers to an injury in the first half when he was taken down hard by Alabama defender Dallas Turner; a play that would draw a roughing the passer penalty. Ewers was replaced by Hudson Card, who was limping through the second half, but kept UT in it.
After the game, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian talked about Ewers' injury, saying it was his clavicle and that he'd be getting an MRI.
As for the team's performance...
“I thought our team played hard, played tough," he said. "In the end, that’s the best team in the country and weirdly, we can feel pretty good about that.”
Quinn Ewers' injury
Texas has been here before: a quarterback with a hot hand knocked out of the game early against Alabama.
Longhorns will never forget Colt McCoy getting injured in the 2009 season national championship game. Alabama went on to win the first of six national titles under Nick Saban while Texas fans spent the next 13 seasons asking “what if?”
On Saturday, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers had already passed for 134 yards and had Texas near the Crimson Tide goal line when a hard hit by Alabama's Dallas Turner knocked him out of the game with a sprained clavicle.
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said after the game that Ewers would get further tests to determine how serious the injury is.
Turner drew a personal foul for the hit when he drove the quarterback into the ground after the ball was thrown away. Ewers laid on the field for several minutes. He was able to walk off the field but went straight to the medical tent before heading to the Texas locker room with a towel over his head. He returned to the Texas bench in the second half in street clothes.
Ewers was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school and initially signed with Ohio State. He transferred to Texas after last season and beat out Hudson Card for the starting job.
Card played the final three quarters against Alabama and passed for 158 yards, but he also was hobbled by a hard hit and spent much of the second half with a visible limp.
“You lose your starting quarterback, that's never fun,” Sarkisian said. “Then your backup gets in the game and he's halfway injured.”
Sarkisian said Card “handled it great," adding, “he had a couple of big completions, a couple of big scrambles. You come in those type of situations, they are never easy.”
Alabama got on the board first with a Will Reichard 52-yard field goal after Texas stopped the Crimson Tide drive.
Texas answered with three of their own after driving to inside the Alabama 10 yard line. Bert Auburn put it through the uprights to even the score at 3-3.
But the tie didn't last long. On Bama's first play after receiving the ensuing kickoff, Tide RB Jase McClellan took the handoff 81 for the score. 10-3 Alabama.
Texas would answer, with this Quinn Ewers to Xavier Worthy bomb.
But with time winding down in the first quarter and Texas inside the 10, Ewers was drilled to the turf on a roughing the passer call and left the game. Hudson Card took over. No word on the extent of Ewers' injury.
UT started the second quarter by tying up the game. Bijan Robinson took it in from one yard out. PAT was good and it's 10-10.
Both Texas and Alabama went three and out on their first drives of the third quarter.
Key stat so far -- Alabama had more penalties than points in the first half.
Texas took their first lead of the game in the third when Bert Auburn drilled a 33-yard field goal. 13-10 Texas.
Burt Auburn drilled another field goal shortly after the fourth quarter started, extending Texas' lead to 16-10 over top-ranked Alabama.
Alabama took the lead back in the fourth quarter when Bryce Young found Jahmyr Gibbs in the end zone for a 7-yard scoring strike. Bama goes on top, 17-16.
After Texas went three-and-out, Alabama was driving, but were stopped on fourth down deep in Texas territory.
Texas drove into Alabama territory and Bert Auburn put UT ahead, 19-17 with just over a minute left.
But Bama took the ensuing kickoff and drove down to within the Texas 20. Reichard kicked the game-winner with 10 seconds left. Alabama wins, 20-19.
Before the game
Inside the stadium, players from the Longhorns' 2006 national championship team made an appearance to fire up the Texas faithful.
It's game day in Austin and the Longhorn faithful are ready. The game starts at 11 a.m. at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
In today's game, the top-ranked Tide are 20-point favorites over their host Horns, but former Longhorns and Houston Madison high school star QB Vince Young, who led Texas to the national title in 2006, says don't count Texas out.
"I really feel like we're going to win," he said Friday.
Young told Gotera he's impressed with the Longhorns so far this year and their second-year head coach, Steve Sarkisian.
"What I love about Sark, man, he's just down to earth," said Young. "What he says he means. I love that he's building a culture, a chemistry."
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is also standing firm behind Texas, quoting Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away Thursday, from when she was in Texas in 1991. The video below is from the pre-game party at the Governor's Mansion.
College Gameday is in Austin, too, for the big early-season matchup.
Stay with KHOU 11's Daniel Gotera for complete coverage for the game. We'll be posting his updates on this page, along with highlights.
ON THE EDGE
Kelvin Banks was one of Sarkisian's most critical recruits after the 5-7 finish in 2021 and the freshman left tackle hasn't disappointed. He's already in the starting lineup. But there's no time to grow into the role. Banks' job will be to protect freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers' blind side from Alabama edge rush linebacker Will Anderson, one of the most dominant players in college. Anderson had 17 1/2 sacks last season.
The game features one Heisman Trophy winner in Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and another player who wants to be in the conversation: Texas pre-season All-American running back Bijan Robinson. The fluid and deceptively fast Robinson ran for 1,127 yards last season before a dislocated elbow forced him to miss most of the last three games. But he'll be running behind a line that starts two freshmen.
Robinson totaled 111 yards and scored twice in Texas' season-opening win over Louisiana-Monroe.
“Bijan’s a great running back. Everybody knows that, everybody sees that. He’s quick, elusive, finds holes that not an average back can find,” Alabama linebacker Henry To’oTo’o said.
TEXAS GAME PLAN
Sarkisian was quite honest this week when he said the game plan for Alabama was done "about three months ago.” And this game is exactly why he would hire someone like former TCU head coach and defensive wizard Gary Patterson as a Longhorns special assistant last spring. There's no doubt Patterson has been zeroed in on this matchup with Young and the Alabama offense.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s description of the Tide’s running game against Utah State was simple: “Inconsistent.”
Alabama averaged a robust 8.2 yards on 32 carries in beating Utah State, but it was skewed by big plays. Young had a 63-yarder and Jahmyr Gibbs added a 58-yarder. Take away the 23-yarder and 20-yarder by freshman Jamarion Miller in the fourth quarter and Alabama gained a more modest 114 yards on 28 carries (a 4.1-yard average).
Texas has two former Alabama players who could make a difference Saturday. Running back Keilan Robinson is the third-team tailback but has proven to be a standout on special teams. He had a punt block last year and last week returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. Wide receiver Agiye Hall returns from suspension this week and could be a big-play target for Ewers.