After UH scored to tie the game at the start of the second half, the Cougars had all the momentum. But UH’s mistakes over the next three drives cost them a chance at a win. Donovan Smith made two crucial errors with turnovers in the second half – the third-quarter fumble and the fourth-quarter INT. And Matthew Golden took a critical dead-ball personal foul that derailed the next drive drive.
the daily #83 | 10/22/2023 | Archives
There are two spots that you can point to as being game-deciding against Texas. Obviously, the end-of-game scenario will get most people’s attention (and it should). But UH’s three series that stretched over the 3rd/4th are every bit as crucial.
Donovan Smith took a sack near midfield on a 3rd and-seven play. UT came on a delayed blitz, and Jaylan Ford popped Smith and knocked the ball out. Smith was looking right in Ford’s direction but couldn’t do anything. Turnover.
UT then went on an 11-play drive but stalled inside the 10. The UH defense bent but did not give up a TD. UT kicks a FG, and it’s 24-21. That was a massive win for the defense.
On the next drive, UH begins to put something together. Starting from their own 25, they push the ball up UT’s 28 before an incompletion on a first. On second down, Smith thinks he has Samuel Brown one-on-one, but the safety Taaffe wasn’t matched up. He spied Brown quickly and was there for the errant throw. It was Taaffe’s first-ever INT—turnover #2.
From afar, that’s just a 3-0 chunk of the game. But a promising drive and another that began near midfield end in turnovers. Add to it that those drives came directly after the TD to end the half and the opening drive (TD) of the second quarter.
The UH defense forced a three-and-out, but the punt forced the offense to start from their own nine. Thanks to a Sam Brown 51-yard reception and an iffy late hit penalty on Texas, UH made it all the way to UT’s 13, where they’d have faced a 3rd and 1. But Matthew Golden lost his cool and was hit with a dead-ball face mask penalty. From 3rd and 1 at the 13 (where UH would have run two offensive plays) to 3rd and 16 at the 28. Egregious mistake. Jack Martin kicked a 40-yard field goal to tie the game.
Here’s the drive chart before those three mistake-killing offensive drives:
|TO on downs
If momentum is real, UH had it starting with the first TD through the time Texas turned it over on downs when it was 21-21.
But the two turnovers and the face mask destroyed Houston’s momentum and chances to win. From the time UH started their first TD drive until the time they tied it up, 10:04 had come off the game clock. But from 21-21 to 24-24, UH squandered three good chances and helped kill 19:46 off the clock.
There’s an excellent case to be made that UH might have lost the game on two bad spots at the end, but they would be irrelevant if the Cougars had finished one of those three second-half drives.