exas plodded along for three quarters today, falling behind, 10-0, before rousing itself in the final 12 minutes to pull out a 14-12 victory over Alabama before 73,243 in the Cotton Bowl.
"We still didn't play as well as we can and I don't think Alabama did, either," said Texas Coach Fred Akers. "But that doesn't matter now, does it?"
Almost all of what mattered today happened in the final period. Longhorn quarterback Robert Brewer, who was voted the game's most valuable offensive player, scored on a 30-yard quarterback draw with 10:22 left, then moved his team 80 yards for the winning score with 2:05 remaining. The touchdown came on an eight-yard run by Terry Orr after Brewer completed four of six passes on the drive for 72 yards.
But Alabama came back quickly, with Joey Jones returning the ensuing kickoff 61 yards to the Texas 38. However, on first down, Walter Lewis' pass to Tim Clark was intercepted by safety William Graham at the one.
The Longhorns ran three plays into the line, then took an intentional delay-of-game penalty. There were 59 seconds to play and Alabama was out of timeouts.
Akers decided to take a safety to get his team out of the hole. Punter John Goodson took the snap and then eluded tacklers in the end zone for 11 seconds before stepping over the back line.
"I wanted to get them as far away from our goal line as possible and use up as much time as possible doing it," said Akers.
As a result of the safety, Texas had a free kick at its 20. Alabama returned the ball to its 41 with 43 seconds to play, needing a field goal to win.
Lewis, who had played well for Alabama until the interception, was sacked for an eight-yard loss on first down. On the last play he scrambled for seven yards and was near the sideline, but he cut upfield and was tackled inbounds. Time expired before the Tide could run another play.
"The safety had to be a great call because it worked," said Alabama Coach Bear Bryant.
Alabama had its way against the predictable Longhorns for the first three quarters and part of the fourth. A six-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Jesse Bendross and a 24-yard field goal by Peter Kim gave the Crimson Tide a 10-0 lead.
Texas seemed content to hand the ball off and pass only when it was third and long. That approach to passing also helped Alabama sack Brewer eight times.
In the fourth quarter, however, Akers junked the grind-it-out game. Brewer began throwing to receivers Lawrence Sampleton, Donnie Little and Herkie Walls.
"We were using the clock then," said Akers. "We didn't have any choice except to throw the ball. It was too late to try and overpower them with our running then."
Brewer threw seven straight passes, completing two to Little for 18 yards and a 26-yarder to Walls. Two incompletions left the Longhorns with a third and 10 at the 30.
Akers signaled for a timeout and sent Brewer back in to run the quarterback draw.
Brewer spread his receivers in a wide formation, took three steps back and then ran up the middle. The play was so open that he didn't have to make a cut on his way to the end zone.
"We caught them in the ideal defense for the draw," Brewer said. "With the second step everything opened up. The only worry I had was if I could get my slow rear end into the end zone."
The Longhorns held Alabama on its next possession and got the ball back on a punt at their 20 with 5:59 to play.
This time, after incomplete passes on the first two downs, Brewer completed a 37-yard pass to tight end Sampleton. Four plays later, on second and 17, he threw to Sampleton for 19 more yards.
A 10-yard pass to Little set up Orr's eight-yard touchdown run on a counter play up the middle.
Jones' kickoff return gave the Tide good field position at the Texas 38, but Alabama was stopped on the next play by Graham's interception.
"We were in a three-deep zone and my instructions are to protect my third of the field, which was the middle," said Graham, the free safety. "When the ball is in the air I'm supposed to go to it. They were running a takeoff against the cornerback and I just reacted to the ball. I stumbled, but I got over there in time."
Clark, the intended receiver, had beaten Mike Hatchett and appeared open until Graham leaped in front of him for the interception.
"We were trying to win any way we could," Bryant said in defending the long pass on first down. "The pass was supposed to go to the short man, but he wasn't open. We threw long into double coverage and they got it."
The victory was Texas' eighth without a defeat against Alabama and gave the Longhorns a 10-1-1 record. Alabama finished at 9-2-1.
"They just whipped us in the fourth quarter," Bryant said. "They got stronger toward the end of the game than us."
Lewis, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore, didn't start, but replaced Alan Gray after the first series and played the rest of the game. He rushed for 119 yards, but also lost 40 yards attempting to pass. His net of 79 yards still made him the game's leading rusher.
Lewis also completed seven of 12 passes for 122 yards and the touchdown to Bendross.