STILLWATER, Okla. -- The Texas Longhorns sought confirmation of their return to elite status in the Big
12 and nationally.
They may still have to wait for such a lofty claim, with warts still visible Saturday night, yet they'll
gladly take a wild 41-36 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium.
And wild it was.
The Longhorns passed -- yes, passed -- their way to the win.
The Cowboys ran -- yes, ran -- their way to a near-win.
And the role reversals were only part of it, with seven lead changes, a 100-yard kickoff return and a
controversial ending providing drama to the closing seconds.
Ultimately, the drama tilted the Longhorns' way.
Quarterback David Ash, much maligned as a freshman a year ago, led Texas on a game-winning drive late, completing a big day in which he filled the spotlight, rather than the Longhorns' vaunted running game and defense.
Facing a fourth-and-6 at his own 29, Ash hit D.J. Grant on a slant route for a 29-yard gain to keep the
game-winning drive alive. With 29 seconds remaining, Joe Bergeron completed the comeback, scoring on a 2-yard run over right tackle to send Texas back in front, although replays showed Bergeron may have fumbled before crossing the goal line.
"Give David credit," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "He will not be under any more pressure than this. He couldn't have done this at the same time last year. He has really grown up. He's the leader of this
"The throw to D.J. Grant was unbelievable. I thought David played great throughout the night."
Quinn Sharp had given the Cowboys a 36-34 lead with a field goal at the 2:34 mark. But the OSU defense couldn't lock down the win, giving up the big play on fourth down, then surrendering more big plays to Ash and the Longhorns on the winning march.
The No. 12 Longhorns improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12. OSU fell to 2-2 and 0-1.
OSU had won in Austin each of the past two seasons, due to a quirk in scheduling caused by conference realignment. The Cowboys haven't beaten Texas in Stillwater since 1997.
"The only thing that was important for us tonight was to win," said Brown. "We needed to go on the road. We needed to win against a team that had beaten us twice in a row. We needed to win against a team that had won more games than anybody else (in the Big 12) over the past two years. And we needed to win at a place where they haven't lost for the past two years."
For the Longhorns, the game opened a rugged three-game stretch of Big 12 games that next features West Virginia in Austin and Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
The Cowboys get a bye week, before a trip to Kansas in two weeks.
Ash, for all the grief he's absorbed as a passer, completed 30 of 37 passes for 304 yards and three
touchdowns. And engineered the winning drive.
"When you grow up learning to play the position, it's what you dream of, what you lay down at night
thinking about," Ash said. "Joe Montana. Joe Cool. Tom Brady. The guys that did it in the clutch. It's a
really cool thing."
Not so cool for the Cowboys, who had gone ahead on Sharp's field goal and were within a play of stopping Texas and clinching victory. But that was a familiar story throughout for OSU, as Texas converted 9-of-17 third downs and 3-of-3 fourth downs.
"At the end, we would have liked to have had a stop," said OSU coach Mike Gundy. "The biggest mistake that we made, in my opinion, is third downs in the first half. We all know that and we're aware of that."
For OSU, Joseph Randle ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Cowboys ran for 275 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, with Texas defenders repeatedly missing tackles. J.W. Walsh, making his first collegiate start at quarterback for the injured Wes Lunt, completed 18-of-27 throws for 301 yards and two touchdowns and added 57 rushing yards on eight attempts.
The game set up as a shootout from the start.
While Texas led 21-17 at the half, 35 of the total points were put up in the first quarter. Ash fired a
pair of touchdown strikes to Jaxon Shipley covering 44 and 20 yards. The Cowboys got a 69-yard run from Randle and a 44-yard scoring pass from Walsh to Josh Stewart.
Stewart's grab and dash tied the score at 14-14, before the Longhorns' D.J. Monroe romped 100 yards with the ensuing kickoff to push Texas back in front 21-14.
Then things quieted down, with a Sharp field goal for the Cowboys representing the only scoring in the
second quarter, before igniting again in the second half.
NOTES: Wes Lunt, OSU's starting quarterback who was injured against Louisiana-Lafayette, did not suit up after starting the first three games. Lunt is nursing a knee injury and is now targeting the Oct. 13
game at Kansas for a return, following the team's second open week. ... Texas started the game without two defensive starters -- linebacker Jordan Hicks (hip) and tackle Brandon Moore (virus) -- then lost another when cornerback Adrian Phillips went out after a major collision on the first-quarter touchdown play to Stewart. Malcom Brown, a replacement at defensive tackle, was also lost to an ankle injury. ... Ash saw a streak of 115 consecutive passes without an interception ended in the third quarter, when Cowboys defensive end Tyler Johnson picked him on a throw across the middle.