SAN ANTONIO — In the third quarter, Texas dropped the ball without even carrying it.
Despite a relatively unimpressive first-half performance, the Longhorns found themselves within striking distance of No. 10 Oregon in Monday’s Alamo Bowl, trailing 20-7 to begin the third quarter.
Even after the Ducks recorded a field goal on their opening possession of the second half, Oregon remained within reach In the final game of his sterling career at Texas, however, longtime head coach Mack Brown literally refused to run down his opponent.
Running back Malcolm Brown was Texas’ lone offensive threat early, rushing for 113 yards on 18 carries to account for all but 43 of his team’s total yards in the first half.
Then, he vanished.
The Longhorns completely abandoned their run game after halftime, producing just 12 rushing yards on six attempts during the third quarter before finishing with 180 yards in a 30-7 loss.
After the game, Brown, who is stepping down after 16 years as Texas head coach, defended his decision to run the ball less in the second half.
“We were trying to win,” he said, “not get yards.”
The attempt to engineer a comeback through the air failed miserably.
The Longhorns (8-5) went three-and-out on each of their three series in the third quarter as Brown carried the ball twice for four yards after averaging 6.3 yards per carry in the first half. The junior, who accounted for 52 yards on Texas’ 79-yard scoring drive, finished with 130 yards.
Meanwhile, quarterbacks Case McCoy and Tyrone Swoopes combined to complete just 9 of 23 passes with McCoy throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Oregon defenders.
Nevertheless, Brown stood by his coach.
“We needed to try to score points,” he said. “We needed to pass the ball more to the receivers. You can’t keep running and try to get yards. You got to put points on the board.”
Brown finishes the season as the Longhorns’ leading rusher with 904 yards and nine touchdowns after sophomore Johnathan Gray was lost to an Achilles injury in early November.
In the weeks since, Brown took control of the position, producing consecutive 130-yard games to conclude the season, earning a spot on the All-Big 12 Football Team as a second-team selection.
Brown believed his standout would not be able to continue delivering against Oregon (11-2) in the second half, though.
“Obviously, they put them all on the line of scrimmage to start the second half,” he said of the Ducks’ defense. “They did a good job of that. We had to be more balanced.”