Tradition Tuesday – Phil Dawson Into the Wind to Top Virginia

Last night, as the nation watched the clutch field goal performances of Georgia Tech and the Beamer crew it occurred to me: the next Tradition Tuesday has got to be about one of the most underrated clutch kicks in Longhorns’ History.  That kick would be none other than Phil Dawson’s 50-yarder into 20 mph wind at the gun to beat Virginia in 1995.

A Little Background

After blowing a 21-point lead, and settling for a 24-24 tie the week before against archrival OU, Texas was looking to rebound against No. 14 Virginia in Austin.  With help from a 139-yard rushing game from freshman Ricky Williams, Texas found themselves ahead with five minutes to go, 14-13.

However, after a miraculous 56-yard bomb booted by Virginia kicker Rafael Garcia, it looked like Texas was going to choke for a second consecutive week, but there’s a reason that I don’t write these articles from a dorm in Charlottesville.

After a methodical drive by James Brown and the ‘Horns stalled at the Cavs’ 33, Texas put the game on sophomore Phil Dawson’s shoulders. He would attempt a nearly impossible 50-yard kick against blistering wind that would make Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz cringe.

The Kick

As the offense came off the field and Dawson and Co. trotted on, Longhorn fans were a little uneasy.  Not only was this kick nearly impossible, but Phil’s first two attempts in the game were nothing short of horrendous.  After the first was shanked off to the side, the second was believed to have landed somewhere near Pflugerville, Texas.

Still, never doubt a Longhorn who just has one job, as Dawson’s boot went through the uprights as time expired, and No. 16 Texas overcame the No. 14 Cavaliers 17-16.

The Aftermath 

Texas would go on to win its last five games of the regular season, as well as the last SWC title ever and go on to play in the Sugar Bowl.  Of those five games, one victory stood out in particular. In the final contest of the season, Texas travelled to College Station and knocked off Texas A&M in the final game between the two in the conference (if that is not foreshadowing, I don’t what is).

Phil Dawson would finish his Texas career ranked 16th on the NCAA all-time scoring list, and have a very fruitful career in professional football. Currently in his fourteenth season with the Cleveland Browns, he is the only player that has been on the roster since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.

Still kicking game-winners today, Dawson and Longhorn fans everywhere will never forget where his roots began.  Here’s to you, Phil! 

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