No. 5 Texas 66, New Mexico State 7
AUSTIN, Texas -- The largest opening day crowd in school history (83,096) gathered at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and saw the Longhorns run away from New Mexico State, 66-7, Sunday night.
After a first quarter that only saw 35 yards of total offense combined between NMSU and Texas, the Longhorns took off, scoring on offense, defense and special teams as they amassed 31 points in a quarter for the third time in the Mack Brown era, this time doing so in the second quarter. The win was also Brown's 50th of his career at Texas, and he reached the plateau in his 65th game, faster than any other coach in school history.
"The game was a great opening win for our team," Brown said. " Our objective was to win the game and that is what we accomplished tonight. We had adversity in the first quarter, but we came back strong in the second quarter. We have lots to work on, and we will go back to work tomorrow, but overall, I am very pleased."
In the second quarter, New Mexico State struck first on its first possession of the quarter, as quarterback Paul Dombrowski kept the ball on an option to the left side and found the whole for an 18-yard touchdown run, capping an eight-play, 51-yard drive and giving the Aggies their only lead of the night at 7-0.
The Longhorns answered immediately as Selvin Young took the ensuing kickoff and raced up the left sideline for a 97-yard touchdown and the second-longest kickoff return in school history. The return was second only to a 100-yard return by Johnny "Lan" Jones in 1978.
After New Mexico State's following drive stalled with a 15-yard personal foul penalty, the Horns took over at mid-field and drove for a touchdown on the strength of a 23-yard screen from quarterback Chance Mock to wide receiver Roy Williams that set up the UT offense on the 12-yard line. Five plays later, Cedric Benson took the ball in from two yards out on a pitch to the right side and gave the Longhorns their first lead.
On the third play of the Aggies' next drive, Derrick Johnson moved into third place in Texas history for interceptions by a linebacker with his fifth, as he picked off quarterback Buck Pierce at the 47-yard line and returned it all the way down the right sideline for a 21-7 lead.
"I think it was a good interception," Johnson said. "I jumped in there really fast, so I wasn't sure whether or not he was going to throw it. I had never scored off of an interception before, but I got into the end zone tonight and I am looking to be in there more this season."
It was then Nathan Vasher's turn, as he intercepted a Dombrowski pass at the Texas 46-yard line. It was Vasher's 12th career interception, and following a 39-yard completion from Mock to tight end Bo Scaife, the Longhorns extended their lead to 24-7 on a 28-yard Dusty Mangum field goal four plays later.
The turnovers kept coming for the Aggies as Bryan Pickryl recovered a Dombrowski fumble at the New Mexico State 15. Texas wasted no time, as on the next play, Williams overcame a defensive pass interference call to pull in a Mock pass on the left side of the end zone for the 31-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Longhorns picked up where they left off with Mock hitting Williams for a 53-yard touchdown down the right sideline on the fourth play of the half. It was Williams' eighth career game with two or more touchdown receptions and also put him over the 100-yard plateau for the sixth consecutive game, a new school record.
"It is our mindset to try to score every time we have the ball, but it took us a while tonight," Williams said. "Once we started, it was really hard to stop us. We got points off our offense, defense, and special teams, which says a lot. Teams will be ready for us, but we will step up to the challenge."
Michael Huff then got in on the act with his third career interception, all of which have gone for touchdowns, tying the school record for career interceptions returned for touchdowns. He returned the ball 55 yards for the score, which came with 7:43 remaining in the third and pushed the score to 45-7.
Quarterback Vince Young entered the game for the first possession of the fourth quarter and rushed four times for 55 yards on his first possession, capping the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run. He then followed on his second possession with 60-yard connection down to the six-yard line to wide receiver Sloan Thomas, before running in for his second score of the night from there.
The final shot came from Selvin Young, who became the first player in UT history to return both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same game when he brought back a Brad Evans punt 39 yards for the final score of 66-7. The 66 points were the most scored by Texas since a 69-17 win over Stanford in 1999.
"Derrick Johnson's interception was good, and Selvin Young's kickoff return changed the intensity and sparked the defense," Brown said. "It also sent New Mexico State a message that they would not win the game. This was important because New Mexico State was building confidence, and when that happens it can be very dangerous. They scored too easily and quickly. It was good that our defense was ignited, but we would have liked to establish the intensity earlier in the game."
The defense was led by Derrick Johnson, who registered 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss and one sack. As a team, Texas spent extended time in New Mexico State's backfield, totaling 14 tackles for loss and five sacks. Mock led the Horns in passing, completing 7-of-15 for 156 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow quarterback Vince Young led in rushing with 61 yards on five carries with two touchdowns.