Unforced errors plague Longhorns in Big 12 Championship loss to Oklahoma

The Longhorns watched their chances of hoisting the Big 12 trophy dwindle as they trailed Oklahoma by 12 points with only two minutes remaining.

Wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey then nearly revived the spirits of many dejected Longhorn fans by returning an Oklahoma kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. But Humphrey didn’t celebrate once he reached the end zone. He was already aware the score would be negated by a holding penalty — one of Texas’ 13 total penalties during the game.

The abundance of unforced errors became one of the many driving forces behind Texas’ 39-27 loss to the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship on Saturday, eventually costing the Longhorns 128 total yards.

“Penalties always slow the game down,” linebacker Gary Johnson said after the game. “That’s not something that you want to see, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It’s something that could be avoided, but things happen and that’s kind of how this game took a swing with all the penalties we had on defense.”

The woes on Texas’ end began in the 1st quarter as cornerback Kris Boyd accounted for two facemask penalties that assisted the Sooners in putting points on the scoreboard for the first time.

Things didn’t improve for Texas in the second quarter as defensive end Breckyn Hager was flagged for the third facemask penalty and eighth overall in the opening half. The flag pushed the Kyler Murray-led Sooners seven yards closer to an eventual touchdown, which became their first lead of the game.

Despite some questionable calls from the officiating crew, many Longhorns didn’t look to point fingers at the referees for their loss.

“You can’t blame the refs, they have a job the same way we have a job out on the field so whatever they see, they have to call it. It is what it is,” safety Brandon Jones said.

The next step for the Longhorns after acknowledging those mistakes will be how they plan to adjust before their bowl game in a few weeks.  

“That makes it hard to win when you’re going backwards that many times, so I do think that had an impact,” offensive lineman Zach Shackelford said. “We’ll watch the film and see how we can improve. Usually when there are penalties, it’s technique issues, which thankfully are fixable.”

With Alabama’s win over Georgia in the SEC Championship on Saturday night, Texas is still in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl, where it will have a chance to redeem itself and end on a high note heading into next season.

“We really bought into what the coaches preached and we loved each other and we've learned that the only thing that can stop us is us,” quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “The games that we've lost we've hurt ourselves. I think that, while that's very frustrating, I think it's enlightening to know that we are going in the right direction. We can fix those things.”

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