By Steve, Habel, The Sports Xchange
AUSTIN, Texas — You could almost hear the wind whipping across the field inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium early Saturday evening as Texas kicker Trent Domingue began his pre-kick routine for what would end up being a game-winning 39-yard field goal.
The only sound in the massive stadium was the urgent, nearly primal, screams of the few thousand Baylor faithful among a throng of 97,822 fans, but those were quickly replaced by a thunderous, approving roar and a huge exhale of relief from the home crowd.
Domingue’s kick split the uprights and gave the Longhorns a come-from-behind, 35-34 victory over eighth-ranked Baylor that might be the turnaround win Texas and Charlie Strong, its beleaguered coach, have been searching for.
It was Domingue’s first-ever game winning kick at any level and he was certainly the most nervous person in the stadium.
“I was extremely, extremely nervous,” said Domingue, who missed a 35-yard field goal that proved the difference in a 24-21 loss to Kansas State on Oct. 22. “As a kicker you are not supposed to think you can miss so I tried to rely on my confidence and right when it hit my foot I knew it was good. It feels good to redeem myself.”
The Longhorns drove 58 yards in seven plays to set up Domingue’s winning kick, with most of the damage coming on a 38-yard pass from Shane Buechele to Armanti Foreman. Baylor had a final chance to counterpunch for the win but had no timeouts. Quarterback Seth Russell was stopped on two scrambles, using most of the clock and allowing the Longhorns to hold on.
“I’m just so proud of this football team tonight and what they’ve been able to overcome,” Strong said. “They’ve battled through all the noise within the system and everything just being so negative.
“I know this: I have a really good team, a special team, and I have a team I really care about and a team that really cares about me,” Strong added. “It’s not a program in disarray, which many of you think, and it’s not a program that’s going backwards. It’s a program that’s headed forward.”
Texas cut Baylor’s lead to 34-32 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Buechele to little-used tight end Andrew Beck with 7:08 to play, but backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, running the Longhorns’ power “18 Wheeler” formation, was denied on a two-point conversion run that would have tied the game.
Buechele passed for 291 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for Texas (4-4, 2-3 Big 12). Running back D’Onta Foreman rushed for a career-high 250 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, becoming the first Texas back to gain more than 1,000 yards in a season since Jamaal Charles in 2007.
“I went and hugged every one of the offensive linemen after the game because I couldn?t have done this without them,” D’Onta Foreman said. “We have to keep fighting – we have four games left and we have to go win on the road.”
D’Onta’s twin brother Armanti hauled in four passes for 142 yards and a touchdown as the Foremans accounted for 392 of Texas’ 548 total yards.
Russell passed for 226 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 138 yards and another score to lead Baylor (6-1, 3-1). Terrance Williams added 180 yards on 24 carries for the Bears, who rushed for 398 yards.
Baylor outgained Texas 624-548, had 31 first downs to the Longhorns’ 19 and ran 96 plays to Texas’ 72. The Bears had a more than six-minute advantage in time of possession.
“It’s a good learning experience for us, I think,” Baylor coach Jim Grobe said. “We’ve won a lot of games and played some of our best football in the fourth quarter, but when you have chances earlier in the game to make things happen and you don’t then sometimes that catches you. I give Texas a lot of credit -they played great late.”
The two teams combined for four touchdowns over the game’s first five and a half minutes. Baylor scored on Russell’s opening-possession, career-long 50 scoring run. The Longhorns answered with a picture-perfect 40-yard bomb for a touchdown from Buechele to Armanti Foreman to culminate an eight-play, 88-yard march to tie the game at 7-7 at the 11:19 mark of the first quarter.
Texas then took the lead on a 37-yard touchdown run by D’Onta Foreman, who scored on the first snap after an interception of Russell by the Longhorns’ P.J. Locke. It was the first time this year that Texas scored a touchdown off a turnover.
Baylor answered a minute-and-a-half later on a 20-yard TD pass from Russell to Ishmael Zamora as the two teams combined for four touchdowns in the first five and a half minutes of the game.
That lead held until midway through the second quarter when Baylor guard Blake Blackmar was flagged for holding Texas’ Paul Boyette, Jr. in the end zone on a passing play, handing Texas a safety and a 16-14 advantage. The Longhorns then pushed their lead to 23-14 on Foreman?s second TD run of the game, this one from nine yards out at the end of a six-play, 66-yard drive.
The Bears crept to within 23-21 on a nifty 9-yard, back-shoulder scoring pass from Russell to K.D. Cannon with :09 to play in the second quarter at the end of an 81-yard, 13-play march that took 4:09 off the clock.
Texas got a 25-yard field goal from Domingue on the opening possession of the second half but that left some room for Baylor to re-take the lead. The Bears responded with another long march, moving 78 yards in 10 plays to a Williams 2-yard touchdown run that put Baylor up 28-26 with 8:21 to play in the third quarter.
A Chris Callahan 25-yard field goal at the 2:16 mark of the third quarter boosted the Baylor lead to 31-26. Then he hit another one, this time from 24 yards out, with 8:54 to play to expand their Bears’ lead to 34-26, still within reach of a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
“We knew the quarterback run was going to hurt them, and it did, but it didn’t hurt them enough,” Russell said. “We were able to connect on a few balls downfield to put us in some good field positions, but for the most part we didn’t execute.”