Texas proud of fight to the end in CFP loss to Washington

NEW ORLEANS, La. , Texas never led during its 37-31 losses to washington on monday night at the Allstate Sugar Bowl — but in a dramatic finish, had four chances to pull off what would have been a comeback for the ages.

That was until the very last second, when Quinn Ewers‘throw to Adonai Mitchell Fell to the turf in the end zone as time expired.

After Jordan Whittington Caught a 41-yard pass on third-and-10 with 20 seconds remaining, Texas suddenly had a real chance for a storybook finish.

“We felt magical, the whole time that we felt like it was already written,” Whittington said. “No matter what happened, I didn’t know it was going to come down to the last, like, 10 seconds … but we didn’t waver one time.”

The Longhorns struggled all night to contain Washington QB Michael Penix Jr.who shredded Texas for 430 yards and 2 passing touchdowns, completing 76% of his throws while adding 31 yards on three runs.

“He had a good day,” defensive back Jahdae Barron said. “When our D-line got him out of the box, even ran a little bit. That was a plus for him. … Hats off to Penix.”

Texas trailed 34–21 with 14:51 remaining in the game, which looked in danger of slipping away. The Longhorns had 10 penalties, tied for a season high, and said they believed many of their setbacks were self-inflicted.

“We all went out there as a team and we fought our butt off,” said Mitchell, who had a soaring touchdown catch on a 1-yard fade to begin the comeback with 7:23 left. “We just played a great team. We didn’t capitalize the way we wanted to. We had a lot of mistakes on the field.”

The Huskies were able to contain Mitchell and Xavier Worthy, the Longhorns’ two star receivers, with Worthy catching two passes for 45 yards and Mitchell finishing with 32 yards on four catches. Ewers completed just 43.5% of his attempts to his wide receivers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, compared to Penix, who completed 90.5%, including a combined 247 yards on 11 catches for Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk,

The Huskies completed nine passes of 15 or more yards, including a 77-yarder to Polk, and 52- and 32-yarders to Odunze.

Even when the pass rush and coverage was good, the Huskies were unflappable, such as Penix’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Polk just before halftime. Penix stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike just past the outstretched arms of Malik Muhammad as Polk tipped the ball up and retrieved it as Muhammad could only watch from the turf.

“Give credit to Washington, they played a very good game,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Penix got hot. They made some big plays down the field. And when they extended the lead, we got a little bit out of game plan to try to fight our way back into it. But we found a way to get a couple stops. and force some field goals that gave us a chance to get back into the game.”

Ewers still finished with 318 yards, his sixth 300-yard game of the season and the most by a Texas quarterback since Colt McCoy in 2008.

Whittington, the senior who had a snakebitten career at Texas with three season-ending injuries, still came up big one last time with the 41-yard catch. It looked like Texas might have a shot for one last victory on its revenge tour, after beating every team that defeated the Longhorns last year. The Huskies’ win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl last year was the final level.

“I was just so sure we’re going to win it,” Whittington said. “But you know, sometimes stuff doesn’t go your way.”

But Ewers’ throw to Mitchell fell incomplete, batted away by Huskies cornerback. Elijah Jackson to end the Longhorns’ final Big 12 season in which they celebrated their first conference championship since 2009 and finished 12–2 with their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

“I loved every minute of it,” offensive lineman Jake Majors said. “Except that last second.”

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