Note: This post has been updated from its original version to include the Big 12's denial that an official has apologized for the call in question.
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Texas and Oklahoma State combined for 147 plays from scrimmage Saturday night in the Longhorns' 41-36 win in Stillwater, but the game ultimately came down to one: UT tailback Joe Bergeron's game-winning touchdown run with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
What do you see there? If you're a Texas fan, it's a chaotic mélange that defies any definitive conclusion, and therefore there's not nearly enough evidence to overturn the initial ruling of a touchdown. If you're an Oklahoma State fan, not only did Bergeron clearly not cross the goal line, but he fumbled, too, which should have effectively sealed the win for the Cowboys.
On Saturday night, replay confirmed the call on the field -- touchdown Longhorns -- all but handing the victory to Texas. After the game, however, according to The Oklahoman, the Big 12's head of officials called Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy to formally apologize for getting the decisive call wrong on both key points:
Walt Anderson "apologized profusely" while telling Gundy that UT running back Joe Bergeron did indeed fumble before crossing the goal line and the touchdown call on the field was incorrect, one source said.
The source said Anderson told Gundy the call was botched by head linesman Brad Edwards, who signaled touchdown too soon without proper view of the ball, which was fumbled before it broke the plane of the end zone. Edwards was originally positioned on the goal line on the UT sideline, then sprinted toward the pile and put his arms in the air.
After the Oklahoman report made the rounds Wednesday afternoon, the Big 12 felt compelled to issue a strong denial via its official Twitter feed:
OFFICIAL: Reports that the Big 12 acknowledged a blown call and issued an apology to Oklahoma State are inaccurate.— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) October 3, 2012
At any rate, Oklahoma State had many opportunities to slam the door on the Longhorns prior to the play in question. Bergeron's touchdown came at the end of a 75-yard, do-or-die drive by Texas, which took over at its own 25 with 2:34 to play in the fourth quarter, trailing by two points, 36-34. The march made a folk hero out of UT's sophomore quarterback, David Ash, who connected on two key completions en route to the victory: the first, a fourth-and-6 strike to tight end D.J. Grant that extended the drive, followed by a 32-yard bomb to wide receiver Mike Davis that set up Bergeron's phantom plunge.
For the night, Ash was 30-for-37 passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns -- all to fellow sophomore Jaxon Shipley -- but it was in the fourth quarter that he really came of age. Texas closed the game by stringing together three extended touchdown drives on its final four offensive possessions, on which Ash completed 12 of 13 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. All three drives came in response to Oklahoma State scores.
Statistically, the Cowboys dominated the game, outgaining Texas by more than 130 yards overall, 576 to 440, and by more than three yards per play. The Longhorns were able to close the gaps on the stat sheet, however, with the help of several equalizers. One was a first quarter interception by safety Kenny Vaccaro in OSU territory, setting up a quick touchdown on the second of Ash's three scoring strikes to Shipley. Later in the first, D.J. Monroe answered an Oklahoma State touchdown with a 100-yard kickoff return that pushed Texas' early lead to 21-14.
From there, the OSU offense left points all over the field, settling for field goals on three separate occasions inside the UT 20-yard line, and missing on a fourth. Meanwhile, Texas amassed a 13-minute advantage in time of possession, turned three fourth-down conversions into points and finished all but one opportunity in Cowboy territory with a touchdown.