AUSTIN — In the stadium bearing his name, and using his famed wishbone formation on the opening play as tribute, the Texas Longhorns honored the memory of the late Darrell Royal throughout the day Saturday.
But beginning from that opening play — a 47-yard double-pass — it was David Ash’s day as the former Belton standout connected on his first 11 passes and finished with 364 passing yards to lead No. 17 Texas over Iowa State 33-7 on Saturday at the famed Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium.
“The only way I could justify the double-pass, because Coach (Royal) said when you throw a pass only three things can happen and two of them are bad, so I thought if we throw it twice, two good things could happen,” said Texas coach Mack Brown. “That was the only way I could think to make it work. … I thought it was a fitting way to honor him.”
Backed up inside the 6-yard line after deferring the opening kickoff, Ash started in the run-based wishbone formation and pitched it to sophomore receiver Jaxon Shipley in the backfield. Drifting to the left, Ash was all alone when Shipley lateralled it back to him and he uncorked a deep pass to tight end Greg Daniels streaking across the middle of the field for a 47-yard completion.
“You could see the play develop, and as (Ash) snapped the ball and pitched it to me, I didn’t really have any idea at that point if it was going to work because I didn’t know if David was going to be open,” said Shipley, who led with 8 catches for 137 yards through the air. “So when I saw him open, I knew from there he could either run it — because he had a ton of room — or he could throw it downfield.”
Immediately following the play, during a Texas (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) timeout, players and coaches alike looked to the sky in tribute to Royal, the legendary coach credited with the program’s first three national championships. Royal died Wednesday after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s.
“I lost a huge part of my life, and whether I realized it or not at the time, Coach Royal filled a void in my life when lost my dad and my granddad four months before I came here,” Brown said.
Royal’s impact on the Texas program was evident Saturday as flags around the stadium flew at half-staff, the burnt-orange Longhorn logo at midfield and on players’ helmets were adorned with his “DKR” initials and a wreath was laid at the feet of his statue inside the stadium.
Ash was near-perfect much of the game, finishing 25-of-31 for 364 passing yards and two touchdowns — including a quick-strike 61-yard bomb to Mike Davis on the first play of Texas’ third offensive series.
“I’m just trying to do my job the best that I can and hold guys on the team accountable for their jobs,” Ash said. “All of us are getting better at that and whenever someone else gets better at their job it helps me do my job.”
Ash’s other touchdown, a 3-yard pass to rarely used tight end Barrett Matthews with 2:53 left in the second half, plated the Longhorns a 20-0 advantage before Iowa State even sniffed the red zone.
Texas freshman tailback Johnathan Gray rushed 14 times for 75 yards and touchdowns of 5 and 13 yards. Sophomore Joe Bergeron led Texas’ ground game with 86 of their 222 rushing yards.
Iowa State (5-5, 2-5) responded after Ash’s second touchdown pass with a scoring drive of their own, capping a 7-play, 64-yard series with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Steele Jantz to Quenton Bundrage with 41 seconds left before halftime.
“I was mad at the defense for the score before the half — I just hate that — (giving away) momentum right before the half makes me want to throw up,” Brown said. “That’s why we had to get points to start the third quarter … but really proud of the defense in the second half.”