Daily Longhorn football history: The 1994 season

The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season. 

For the first time since 1990, Texas began a season with a win.

Texas had stumbled out of the block for three straight seasons entering 1994, but in a game at Pittsburgh to start the season redshirt freshman Phil Dawson hit a 50-yard field to give Texas a 30-22 lead and the Longhorns held on to beat the Panthers 30-28.

Dawson, of course, is one of the all-time greatest kickers in Longhorn history and he would go on to become a two-time All-Southwest Conference kicker. When Dawson retires from the NFL he will be the last former SWC player to have played in an NFL game. At 42-years-old, he is currently a member of the Arizona Cardinals, whom he signed a two-year contract with in March of 2017.

Texas opened the season with two more wins, knocking off Louisville and TCU before hosting Kordell Stewart and No. 4 Colorado on Oct. 1, 1994.

Trailing 21-10 at halftime, Texas used  67-yard pass from Shea Morenz to Eric Jackson and a 47-yard field goal from Dawson with 4:49 left to tie the game.

The week before Stewart and the Buffaloes pulled off a miracle finish against Michigan, and it would happen again in Austin, but not quite as flashy.

Instead of 64-yard hail mary with no time left,  Colorado had more than four minutes to drive nearly 80-yards and take the lead. Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam– who had 317 yards (317 yards!) rushing– paced the final drive, gaining 61 yards. But maybe the biggest play came, like the week before, on a pass from Stewart to receiver Michael Westbrook. Avoiding disaster, Salaam tipped a pass in the air, Westbrook caught it, and it was an 11 yard gain. The deflection happened with a pair of Longhorns.

Eventually, Colorado got the ball in place for Neil Voskeritchian to hit a game-winning kick.

This game also featured a bizarre play on the sideline when star lineman Tony Brackens accidentally hit coach Mackovic on the sideline. Mackovic later in the season admitted he had post-concussion syndrome due to the hit.

“I’m feeling fine. I have some stitches. I didn’t count how many. My health is not a subject,” Mackovic later told the Associated Press of the play.

The good thing was Texas didn’t have to see Colorado and Salaam again that season.

The next week, with Morenz nursing a knee injury, James Brown got his first start at quarterback for the Longhorns, coming against Oklahoma.

Trailing 7-0 at halftime, Brown scored on a 9-yard touchdown run and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Pat Fitzgerald to help Texas beat the No. 16-ranked Sooners 17-10.

Morenz returned to the field the next week as the starter.

Against Rice.

OK, so remember the 1965 season? Darrell Royal’s team went 6-4 and one of those loses was to Rice, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to win 20-17, great, you remember. Well, that was the last time Rice beat Texas. For 28 games– 28 years– Texas beat the Rice Owls. All the average seasons at the end of the Fred Akers era and the bad seasons under David McWilliams, Rice still couldn’t beat Texas.

But football is funny because in the best season since 1990, Texas lost to Rice 19-17 to snap the sixth-longest winning streak over one opponent in college football history (Notre Dame’s 43-game streak over Navy is the longest).

Trailing 12-10 at halftime, Rice increased its lead to 19-10 with 8:21 left to play. Texas scored with 1:27 to go, but they couldn’t complete the comeback in Houston. Texas was held to a Darrell-Royal-head-shaking 16 total rushing yards. Rice ran the ball 61 times to Texas’ 22 and the Longhorns attempted 39 passes.

Morenz was 18-for-39 with 163 yards and two touchdowns, but the offense wasn’t right.

The next week Morenz and Brown split quarterback duties against SMU. Brown was 5-of-7 with 83 yards with a touchdown, while Morenz was 13-18 for 122 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. The running game also bounced back  with Rodrick Walker going for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Texas won 42-20.

Texas would lose the next two games in blowout fashion, 33-9 to Texas Tech and 34-10 to Texas A&M. Against the Aggies, Morenz injured his shoulder and never took another snap for the Longhorns in his career.

This is because James Brown went 3-0 for the Longhorns after those disastrous games. Texas beat Houston 48-13 in Brown’s second start and the sophomore threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, completing 22-of-27 passes. Texas then beat Baylor in Waco 63-35 on Thanksgiving Day.

Texas tied for second in the Southwest Conference with a 4-3 record. They accepted a bowl invitation to the Sun Bowl against coach Mack Brown and the No. 19-ranked North Carolina Tarheels.

The Dec. 30, 1994 Sun Bowl is also known as the Priest Holmes game. Holmes scored four touchdowns and rushed for 161 yards. He also caught two passes for 44 yards.

Texas led 21-10 at one point, but UNC flipped the switch and led 31-21 in the fourth quarter. In the final seven minutes of the game, Holmes would score two touchdowns, including a 5-yard run with 1:17 remaining to give Texas a 35-31 lead that would stand.

The bowl win was the first since 1987, McWilliams’ first season, and Texas had its most wins since 1990, finishing with an 8-4 record. Texas finished the season ranked No. 25 in the final Associated Press poll.

However, the biggest win of the 1994 season probably came on the recruiting trail.  San Diego Patrick Henry High School product Ricky Williams committed to the Longhorns in 1994 and would be joining the team soon. He was slated to be a fullback, according to Statesman reports in early January of 1995.


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