Gilbert, a two-time all-district MVP at Huntsville High School, and Lavey, a high school All-American at Celina High School, were two of the playmakers on the Cowboys defense that shut down the Longhorns, who had scored 30 or more points during a six-game winning streak entering Saturday.
Gilbert, Lavey and the other OSU seniors now also have bragging rights for the rest of their lives after winning three games at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium during their playing careers. The Cowboys won in 2010, 2011 and 2013, and became the first team to win three consecutive games in Austin since Colorado did it in 1990, 1994 and 1997. OSU, Colorado and Texas A&M are the only schools to defeat Texas at home three consecutive games since 1940.
Gilbert, from his cornerback spot, intercepted Case McCoy twice and middle linebacker Lavey surprised the Longhorn quarterback on a short slant pattern and returned it 23 yards to set up a Cowboys touchdown.
But it was the Gilbert’s interception and 43-yard return for a touchdown late in the first half that gave the Cowboys a 28-10 lead, and all but sealed the win even through there were still 30 minutes left to play. He stepped in front of McCoy’s pass to Kendall Sanders and raced 43 yards into the end zone with just 18 seconds left on the clock.
““We take pride it playing one-on-one with the receivers outside, and bumping and running because it’s just us and them out there all by ourselves. The ball is thrown up it’s either me or him that’s going to catch it, and we want to make that play,” said Gilbert, whose two interceptions were the 10th and 11th of his career.
“When I got around the 20 I thought I was going to have to dive in when I saw the quarterback running at me, but I was able to run fast and get into the end zone,” Gilbert said of his touchdown.
Lavey had one interception during his first three years as a Cowboy but Saturday’s was the fourth of this season, and it couldn’t have come against any better team.
“Year in and year out Texas comes up with a great football team and good athletes, (and) it’s a tough environment to play in, so to come in here and win a few times feels great,” said Lavey, who had eight tackles against the Longhorns.
Mike Gundy team has now won 11 of the last 12 games the Cowboys have played in the state of Texas, including the last three over the Longhorns.
“We’re really proud of our players. We talked about coming down here, there are 70 of us, 120 total with everybody else involved and there are 102,000 of them … but you have to be strong as a group, you have to have a lot to you, a lot of substance to come down and get a win on the road,” said Gundy. “Defensively we were terrific.”
The Cowboys offense also did the job, specifically senior quarterback Clint Chelf, who had not played against the Longhorns during his career. But he was outstanding on Saturday in front of the nearly 100,000 Texas fans.
The fifty-year senior from Enid, Okla., accounted for 293 total yards. He was 16-of-22 passing for 197 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while also rushing for a career-high 95 yards and two more scores on 10 carries.
On the game’s second drive, Chelf drove the Cowboys 72 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Cowboys called designated quarterback runs on three plays for 54 yards, including the 22-yard quarterback draw for a touchdown.
The Longhorns pulled within 7-3 a few minutes later after the OSU defense forced a field goal from the 22-yard line. Texas had some momentum when Chelf made his only major mistake of the day on the next possession, throwing into double coverage for an interception.
Gilbert, Lavey, Shaun Lewis (a team-high 10 tackles) and the Cowboys defense forced back-to-back punts, and the offense took advantage of a short field to drive 42 yards for the second touchdown of the game. Chelf kept around the left end, following a big-time block from Kye Staley on a 4-yard scoring run to give the Cowboys a 14-3 lead.
The OSU defense then allowed Texas its only sustained drive of the day – 75 yards in 10 plays – as the Longhorns pulled within 14-10. Chelf completed passes of 24, 29 and 12 yards on the next drive as the Cowboys went 67 yards in six plays to go back up 21-10 with 1:15 remaining in the first half.
Chelf and the Cowboys got a little lucky on the touchdown play. The quarterback’s pass into the end zone should have been intercepted by Adrian Phillips of Texas but the ball bounced off of his hands into those of senior receiver Tracy Moore’s for a 12-yard score.
The Longhorns took over with 1:15 on the clock and wanted to put a few points on the scoreboard before halftime. But on a first-and-15 play from their own 37, McCoy’s pass to Sanders was intercepted by Gilbert, who raced 43 yards untouched for the touchdown.
Gilbert’s second interception of the game would occur in the second half when McCoy attempted to go deep to Sanders, but the OSU senior made the interception. He now has 11 career interceptions, which moves him into No. 10 in the record books.