Texas was able to get a crucial first down in the third quarter of its 34-24 win against No. 3 Alabama because of a technicality within the NCAA rule book.
Leading 13-9, the No. 11 Longhorns attempted a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 with less than four minutes to go in the third quarter. But quarterback Quinn Ewers never got possession of the ball after it was snapped. Running back Jonathan Brooks then had the wherewithal to pick the ball up off the ground and run for a three-yard gain and a first down.
After some confusion, Texas recovers their own fumble and converts the 3rd down! pic.twitter.com/imwddnCUgc
— MR Sports Media ™ (@MRFootballElite) September 10, 2023
According to college football rules, a fumble can’t be advanced forward on fourth down by any other offensive player but the player who fumbled the football. But Texas was able to keep the first down because officials ruled after a replay review that Ewers never had possession of the ball after the snap.
The original call on the field was Alabama’s ball. But since Ewers didn’t actually hold onto the snap, it officially counted as a muffed snap and any Texas player was eligible to advance the ball.
The conversion ultimately didn’t mean anything, however. Texas didn’t get another first down on the drive and Brooks was stopped a half-yard short of the line to gain on Texas’ next fourth-down attempt. Alabama then connected on a TD pass from Jalen Milroe to Jermaine Burton to take the lead, but Texas came back to get its biggest win of Steve Sarkisian's tenure in Austin.