EditorsNote: Minor fix in last graph
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger rushed for 64 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 169 yards as the 15th-ranked Longhorns outpunched fifth-ranked Georgia 28-21 on Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans.
Ehlinger’s gritty ground game produced touchdowns on runs of 2, 9 and 1 yards, with two of the scores coming at the end of lengthy, time-consuming drives.
The underdog Longhorns went toe-to-toe with physical Georgia, eschewing the flashy downfield passing attack prevalent in the Big 12 Conference and beating the Bulldogs at their own smash-mouth Southeastern Conference-style game, on both sides of the ball.
Texas (10-4) won 10 games in a season for the first time since it captured 13 victories in 2009 before losing to Alabama in the national championship game. The Longhorns had at least 10 wins for nine straight years from 2001-09.
Georgia (11-3) started slowly and could never find a way to solve Ehlinger and the Longhorns. Quarterback Jake Fromm passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted once, sacked twice and was under constant duress from the Texas pass rush.
Tre Watson added 91 yards on 18 carries for the Longhorns, who outgained Georgia 355-284 and enjoyed a 178-72 advantage on the ground.
Texas rolled down the field on the game’s opening drive, marching 75 yards in 10 plays to Ehlinger’s 2-yard touchdown run.
The Longhorns then got a huge break when Georgia punter Jake Camarda’s knee touched the turf as he received a low snap from center, giving Texas the ball as the Bulldogs 27. That set up a 37-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker and a 10-0 Texas lead with 6:05 to play in the first quarter.
Texas made its own break late in the first quarter when Ta’Quon Graham stripped the ball from Georgia running back D’Andre Swift, and Longhorns defensive lineman Gerald Wilbon fell on the fumble at the Bulldogs 12. Ehlinger juked his way up the middle for a 9-yard TD run three plays later to give the Longhorns a 17-0 lead just seven seconds into the second quarter.
Georgia finally found its offense, with Fromm throwing to Brian Herrien for a 17-yard TD that cut the Longhorns’ advantage to 17-7 with 9:03 to play in the second quarter.
Texas answered with a 30-yard Dicker field goal with 4:37 to play in the half after a 62-yard, 11-play drive that expanded its lead to 20-7.
Ehlinger bulled over from the Georgia 1 on fourth down for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Ehlinger then passed to Collin Johnson for a two-point conversion that granted Texas a 28-7 lead with 11:49 to play.
Georgia cut the deficit to 28-14 as Fromm hit Mecole Hardman on a 3-yard TD toss one play after a 31-yard hookup with Jeremiah Holloman put the Bulldogs in scoring position.
Fromm connected with Swift for a window-dressing 5-yard TD pass with 14 seconds to play, but it was far too little, too late for the Bulldogs.
—Field Level Media