Shipley's kick return and big game propel Texas
Oct. 11, 2008
Shipley would catch a kickoff and zigzag through defenders all the way to the end zone. Then he'd go deep or cut across the middle, practically waving his arms to say "I'm open!" before McCoy launched a scoring pass.
The duo did it again Saturday, only this time their playground was the Cotton Bowl and they were helping No. 5 Texas knock off No. 1 Oklahoma 45-35.
Shipley caught 11 passes, the most by anyone on either team in this 103-game series, and his 96-yard kickoff return was the third-longest by a Longhorn and the school's longest ever against the Sooners. McCoy finished with 277 yards and a TD on 28-of-35 passing.
"It's what you dream about as kids. ... We've come a million miles," Shipley said, thinking back to when he and McCoy played pickup games in the shadows of Division II Abilene Christian University, where their fathers had been roommates.
Although they drifted apart in high school, when their fathers - both high school football coaches - moved to different towns, the guys found themselves together again at Texas. Now they're roommates and best friends. McCoy became a star as a freshman two years ago, while Shipley is only now blossoming after dealing with serious knee and nagging hamstring injuries for three years.
"I'm kind of grateful some of that stuff happened," Shipley said. "I learned a lot of lessons."
McCoy looked for his old pal whenever he needed a clutch play. Or he turned to his other buddy, Quan Cosby, who caught nine balls, plus a 2-point conversion. That's 20 between them, proof the Longhorns might be able to get away without finding a reliable No. 3 receiver.
"We've been together so long," McCoy said. "I can always count on them to get open."
Shipley's kickoff return in the second quarter kept Oklahoma from breaking the game open. The Sooners had just gone up 14-3 on Sam Bradford's second touchdown throw and had found their rhythm with the no-huddle offense.
Shipley caught the ball deep on the left hashmark, sprinted straight upfield, hit a crease between several defenders and was off. He broke back to his right and with his burst of speed, no Sooner got close to him once he was in the open field. The touchdown was a huge lift for the 46,000 fans in the Longhorns half of the Cotton Bowl.
"That was an answer," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
It was just a start.
In the third quarter, Texas trailed 28-20 when Shipley started out on the left side of the formation, got to the end zone and drifted along the back line to the other side where McCoy fired a bullet for a TD. McCoy tracked Shipley all the way across the route before zipping the pass.
The pair connected again for another big play in the fourth quarter. Texas trailed 35-30 and Shipley's 37-yard catch-and-run put the Longhorns on the OU 2. Two plays later, Cody Johnson powered in for a TD to put Texas up for good.
Just like those old sandlot days, Shipley slipped into an open space for the catch.
"We had him covered, then we lost him," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.
"There were some plays today," Brown said, "that were made on instinct."
Instinct honed in those games years ago.