AUSTIN — Texas’ offense has been on display throughout the season. Against Iowa State, it was the defense’s turn to show off.
After allowing a combined 144 points during three consecutive losses, the Longhorns ended the skid Saturday evening, giving up just 280 total yards en route to a 27-6 victory.
Following the win, Texas junior Naashon Hughes said the defense wanted to prove a point.
“They beat us 24-0 last year,” the former Harker Heights standout said, “so we just had to return the favor.
“As a defense, we’ve been kind of bad these past couple of games. We wanted to go out there and prove we can still play football and still play Texas defense.”
Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong agreed with the approach.
“I told them to just challenge themselves,” he said. “If we want to say we’re a good football team, then we have to go perform like it.
“This should just be our standard week in and week out, so I’m just really pleased with our defense.”
The Cyclones were unsuccessful on 12 of 18 third-down conversion attempts and only reached the red zone on three occasions.
Hughes, a defensive end/outside linebacker, posted his best game of the season, finishing with four tackles highlighted by a career-high 2½ sacks after entering the contest with eight tackles and a sack.
While teammate Breckyn Hager recorded six tackles and a sack of his own, the sophomore was more excited about Hughes’ outing.
“I’m just so happy for the defense,” he said. “Seeing Naashon get those sacks made me happier than anything.
“Now, to keep this going, we’ve got to continue to execute the game plan.”
Hughes delivered his first sack in the second quarter, dropping Iowa State quarterback Jack Park for a 12-yard loss on second down. Then, on third-and-5 from Texas’ 33-yard line, Hughes sacked Joel Lanning for an 8-yard loss, forcing a punt on the following snap.
And the Longhorns (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) capitalized on the opportunity.
Thirteen plays later, D’Onta Foreman scored on an 18-yard run as Texas reached the end zone for the final time of the night, opening a 24-6 advantage with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Texas also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble as it held an opponent without a touchdown for the first time since beating Kansas State 23-9 last season.
Following a stagnant first half, which ended with Iowa State (1-6, 0-4) holding a 6-3 lead, things turned around offensively for the Longhorns in the third quarter. Texas scored 21 unanswered points in the period, finishing with 243 yards of offense after garnering just 161 yards in the entire first half.
Longhorns freshman quarterback Shane Buechele went on to complete 26 of 38 passes for 296 yards, including a season-long 75-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay, while Foreman added 139 rushing yards.
Although the offense was executing, averaging 9.4 yards per play, Buechele gave the defense credit following the win.
“They did an unbelievable job tonight,” he said, “allowing them to just score six points. That is awesome, and I’m really happy for them.”