After their 19-8 victory in the Corky Kell Classic, the Longhorns are sure glad he did.
Langley caught two first-half touchdown passes and ran a perfectly timed, 63-yard reverse to help secure the victory in the fourth quarter — all after finding out that he was cleared to play after a bout of mononucleosis.
“The doctors cleared him (Saturday) morning. We found out about 8 a.m.,” said Kell coach Derek Cook, whose team has now won two of three games it has played in the event that shares a title with the school’s namesake.
“I think (the doctor) made the right call.”
Langley, who committed to South Carolina earlier this summer, was the fastest player on the field, and it showed at the right time, on a play that started on the Kell 18 with just less than 9 minutes to play in the game.
The Longhorns (1-0) set up for a run to the right, but Langley came back around to the left and — after briefly bobbling the pitch — outran the defense to Chattahoochee’s 19-yard line. Though Kell didn’t score on the drive, the importance of the play came in flipping field position and stemming the Cougars’ momentum after they had cut the Longhorns’ lead to 16-8 earlier in the half.
“We did a lot of film study, and it showed where they bit hard against the run,” Langley said. “That’s why we decided to reverse it.”
Cook said the play was one the team had been working on in practice — but one he had forgotten about until that moment.
“Offensive coordinator Jonathan Gordon called down from the box and reminded me of it,” Cook said. “I said, ‘Let’s run it.’ We were either going to look like a genius or an idiot, but (Gordon) looked like a genius on that call.”
That call left Chattahoochee deep in its own end of the field when it got the ball back. That led to three plays, a punt and a return that the Longhorns will remember for a long time.
Julian Burris fielded the punt on his 27 and weaved his way through tacklers for 54 yards to the Cougars’ 20. A pile-up ensued as Burris was fighting for extra yards and, while in the scrum, Burris handed the ball to Taylor Henkle, who broke free long enough to get the ball to the 1-yard line
“I was thinking, ‘Protect the ball,’” said Henkle, who added an interception at the Kell 3-yard line with 59 seconds to play. “What (Burris) was thinking, I don’t know.”
Cook wasn’t surprised to see the play unfold.
“That was our ‘in-the-pile adjustment,’” he said. “That was just two kids that have been playing together for years making a play.”
A 15-yard sideline-warning penalty against Kell pushed the ball back to the 16, but Cameron Massung connected on a 34-yard field goal three plays later to put the game out of reach.
While the Kell defense held Chattahoochee to 213 yards of total offense, the Longhorns’ offense missed opportunities to extend the lead to more than 16-0 at the half.
In six of the Longhorns’ seven drives in the first half, they drove deep into Cougars’ territory. They had one drive end with an interception at the Chattahoochee 11, another result in a missed field goal and two more ended in punts.
Kell did find the end zone twice, both on passes from Matthew McGuigan to Langley.
The first came on a swing pass, in which Langley made one defender miss and then went 28 yards down the sideline. The second came when McGuigan, who finished 6-of-17 for 71 yards, connected with Langley where he used his speed to get behind the defense and score from 27 yards out.
Langley finished the day with three carries for 95 yards, including a 12-yard run on a fake punt to help set up the second touchdown. He also had four catches for 65 yards and the two scores.
“I thought (Langley) was just a great player,” Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder said. “When you look at the game, he was the difference. We couldn’t handle him (Saturday).”
Kell’s other first-half points came with 5 minutes left in the second quarter.
Chattahoochee started on its 20 after the Longhorns’ missed field goal. On the first play from scrimmage, Zach Cloer sacked quarterback Travis Marshall for a 7-yard loss, and on the next play, Michael Valero came untouched and slammed Marshall to the ground in the end zone for a safety.