Okafor and defense help Texas rally in Alamo Bowl

Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- Just when it looked like Oregon State was going to storm into Texas and thump the mighty Longhorns, Texas swallowed up the Beavers.
Texas defensive end Alex Okafor led the charge as the Longhorns' defensive front flipped the script of the Valero Alamo Bowl. Okafor and company continually sacked Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz, keeping the Beavers from pulling away and giving the Texas offense the chance it needed to find its rhythm.
Texas quarterback David Ash hit Marquise Goodwin for a 36-yard touchdown with 2:24 left, pushing the Longhorns over the top in a 31-27 victory Saturday at The Alamodome.
"It was set up all game," Goodwin said. "They bit on the double moves. I escaped that and Ash threw a great ball and touchdown."
Ash struggled through the first three quarters, completing 12 of 22 for 95 yards and giving up an interception. But he led Texas (9-4) as it came back from 10 down in the fourth quarter.
Ash avoided pressure from Oregon State safety Anthony Watkins and tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Gray to ignite the Texas offense in the fourth quarter. Ash finished with 241 passing yards.
"Those are plays that are in the balance," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "If our player does it, it's a great play. It was a really, really good play by Ash."
But it was Okafor and the Texas defensive front that really sparked Texas. Okafor finished with an Alamo Bowl-record 4.5 sacks.
"For the last month we've been breaking down film," Okafor said. "(Defensive coordinator Manny) Diaz saw a weakness in their pass protection and put me in a great position to go make plays."
When the Beavers took possession with 2:24 remaining and a chance to tie it or take the lead, Okafor squashed the chance by sacking Vaz for a 6-yard loss, forcing Oregon State into fourth-and-14 from its 21.
Of course, the Texas defense got one more sack in before it was over. This time Kendall Thompson dropped Vaz behind the line, the Longhorns' 10th sack to seal the Alamo Bowl.
"The pass rush was just unbelievable," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "The defense just completely took over the game at the end. Relentless, just kept coming."
All Ash and the offense had left to do was kneel three times and claim a bowl-game win for Texas in its home state.
Oregon State controlled the first half, outgaining Texas by more than 100 yards and moving the chains for 16 first downs to Texas' four.
The Beavers scored the final 10 points of the half to establish a 20-10 advantage. Oregon State running back Terron Ward ran nine yards for a touchdown and kicker Trevor Romaine hit a 37-yard field goal to cap the scoring drives.
But Storm Woods was the one who made the wheels turn for the Beavers. Woods carried 15 times for 98 yards in the first half. Quarterback Cody Vaz, 8 of 16 for 117 yards in the first half, sprinkled in timely first-down passes to complement Woods' work.
Texas' only production of the first half came on a long double-reverse run by wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
After the Longhorns gained their initial first down early in the second quarter on a fourth-down offside penalty, Goodwin made his contribution. Texas running back Johnathan Gray took a handoff from Ash going right and flipped the ball to Goodwin going left. Goodwin made the corner and outran the Beavers for a 64-yard touchdown.
But that was the Longhorns' only drive of the first half that gained more the 14 yards. Ash completed 7 of 13 passes for 53 yards in the first half and Texas running backs combined for just 22 yards.
NOTES: Ash split time this season with backup Case McCoy, who was suspended for the Alamo Bowl. Ash and McCoy were the only two quarterbacks to throw a pass for Texas this season, and the three other quarterbacks are all freshmen. Before the game, Ash warmed up throwing passes with Jalen Overstreet and Connor Brewer. ... Vaz started his fourth game of the season as coach Mike Riley picked him over Sean Mannion, who began the season as the starter. Mannion entered the game midway through the second quarter and led a five-play, 47-yard scoring drive on which he handed off on every play.

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