NEW ORLEANS — Michael Penix Jr. put on a Heisman-like performance on Monday night at the CFP National Semifinal at the 90th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl in a winning effort against 3rd Ranked Texas. He completed 29 of 38 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Penix Jr. also added 31 yards on three crucial carries throughout the game.
Here’s how it all went down at the Caesars Superdome!
Washington won the toss and elected to defer. Texas would receive the opening kickoff. They would start at the 34-yard line after a 31-yard kickoff return from Jaydon Blue.
As they started their drive, nerves got the best of the Longhorns, picking up an illegal snap penalty ahead of the first pay of the game. This made it 1st and 15 to start the game at their own 26. Runningback CJ Baxter would eat that up on the next snap with a 16-yard gain and a first down. However, that is where things stalled out for UT as they were forced to settle for a punt on their first-ever drive in the College Football Playoff.
The punt was a good one that pinned Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies back at their 11-yard line. This time the Longhorns defense opened a drive with a penalty, which was an offsides call, that made it 1st and five for the Dawgs. After back-to-back rushes to start the drive from Dillon Johnson, Penix dropped a dime down the right sideline into the waiting arms of Ja’Lynn Polk, who cracked back into the field with a spin move. He was finally dragged down at the two-yard line, where Dillon Johnson finished things off with a run up the gut, breaking the goal line for the first score of the game.
Quinn Ewers and the Longhorns offense started clicking on their 2nd drive of the game. He connected with CJ Baxter for 31 yards as Baxter broke a few tackles to get into Dawg’s territory. Ewers would scramble on the next two plays as they got into the red zone. Three plays later, it was Jaydon Blue taking it in from five yards out to tie things up at seven with 7:06 left to play in the 1st quarter.
Everyone would get a chance to catch their breath for a minute as the two offenses traded three-and-outs.
Penix Jr. would again get his offensive squad rolling with a drive that bled into the 2nd quarter. It would be a nine-play, eighty-yard drive, which would end in a second rushing TD from Johnson, this time coming on a one-yard rush.
With Washinton leading 14-7, Texas was hit with their second three-and-out of the game. However, on the punt, Germaine Bernard muffed the punt, and the Longhorns jumped on it at the Washington 22-yard line. Three plays later, Texas found the endzone three plays later as Byron Murphy II took it in for the score.
Penix Jr. would open the next drive with a 52-yard dime drop to Rome Odunze. After getting to the Texas 14-yard line, the Huskies would face a 4th and one. Electing to go for it, they came up short and turned the ball over.
The Longhorns wouldn’t take advantage of the slight momentum swing with the turnover and stalled into another three-and-out.
After an incompletion, Penix Jr. would complete six consecutive passes, including a drive-capping 29-yard tipped touchdown pass to Ja’Lynn Polk. This gave the Huskies a 21-14 lead.
Ewers got the ball with 1:20 left in the 1st half and wasted no time answering back. The sophomore quarterback would complete four passes on the drive for 36 yards. He then took a 21-yard scramble to the Huskies seven-yard line before getting knocked by UW’s Asa Turner, who came in after Ewers slid. That resulted in a personal foul and made it 1st and goal at the three-yard line.
On the next play, CJ Baxter would take it in for the score to tie things up at 21 just ahead of the half. A knee later from Penix Jr. the teams were in the locker room.
takes _ timeouts
The Huskies started the 2nd half with possession, and Penix Jr. went right to work. First, a nine-yard zipper to Jack Westover. He then found Polk again before taking it through midfield for a 12-yard gainer before sliding under two Longhorn defenders. After another two-yard gainer, Penix Jr. strung together four consecutive completions for 43 yards. the final completion was a 19-yard TD connection with McMillan over the middle to the right middle back-line pylon to make it 28-21.
A fumble of the Longhorn’s first play from scrimmage following would be recovered by the Huskies at the 33-yard line of Texas and put the Dawgs in a Prime position to attack and take a two-possession lead. To this point, we have only seen a seven-point lead from Washington answered three times.
They wouldn’t be able to punch it in for six, as they settled for a 26-yard field goal from Grady Gross. This still put the Longhorns in a position they have yet to be in, down two possessions.
As momentum’s pendulum started to lean more heavily toward Wahington’s way, the Longhorns had to punt after picking up a lone first down.
This gave Penix Jr. and the Huskies another opportunity to pull away. He would lead another scoring drive, however, it resulted in another field goal as things stalled out. This kept it a two-score game, and the Huskies pushed to a 34-21 lead.
Texas would turn over the football for a second time with their fourth overall fumble of the game. This gave the Huskies the ball with a chance to really do some damage. However, the drive would result in a three-and-out, exactly what the Longhorns needed. Could they do anything with it though, after being scoreless in the 2nd half?
Ewers would drive them into a goal-to-go situation. On 2nd and goal from the one. He threw a beautiful back fade that Adonai Mitchell had to maneuver around the defender to haul in for the touchdown. This would make it 34-28 with 7:23 left to play.
Penix Jr. would come back out and once again lead them across midfield into the red zone. However, the Texas defense once again, came up with a stop, holding Washington to a field goal.
Trailing 37-28 with 2:40 left to play, Texas would need to strike fast. Ewers would connect with Mitchell for 11 yards, scramble for 13, and then connect with Ja’Tavion Sanders for 20 yards to get into Washington territory. After a personal foul penalty put the Longhorns in the red zone, they would get stifled in a goal to go, forcing them to kick the field goal and go for an onsides kick. Bert Auburn would drill the 25-yard field goal.
However, the onside kick would be unsuccessful and the Huskies took over with 1:09 left to play. Texas used its two timeouts, and we were looking at a 3rd and 5, with 1:02 left to play. After a rush for no gain should have run the clock down to 25ish seconds. A Huskie was injured, and it forced the clock to stop, and it made the play start on the whistle. Since it was now fourth down, UW had to punt with 50 seconds left.
On the punt, Keith Reynolds was called for kick catch interference, which gave the Longhorns 15 extra yards. After all that, Texas was set up 1st and 10 at their own 31 with 45 seconds left to play.
Ewers’ first two passes were incompletions. Then he roped one to Jordan Washington, down to the Dawgs 28. He would continue to move closer, down to the 13-yard line. On 4th and 11 from the Washington 13-yard line, with one second left, Ewers threw to the back right pylon to Mitchell and Huskies defender Makell Esteen broke up the reception to seal the Huskies 37-31 victory over Texas, as they punched their ticket to the National Title game in Houston Texas.
They will face off against Michigan on Monday, January 8th.
Written by Adrian Beecher