Friday, January 8, 2010

Tide holds off McCoy-less Texas for BCS title, 37-21


When star senior quarterback Colt McCoy left the game with a shoulder injury on Texas’ first possession of the BCS national championship game, all seemed lost for the Longhorns.

Texas came back to cut its 18-point halftime deficit to three in the fourth quarter. But then the Crimson Tide’s second-ranked defense seized Alabama’s eighth national title.

Alabama’s defense forced five turnovers, Heisman winner Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson each ran for two scores and the Tide defeated Texas 37-21 in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday night.

McCoy was hit on his right shoulder by Alabama’s Marcell Dareus on an option run and ran off the field with his arm hanging limp. ABC reported that McCoy’s X-rays were negative, but he did not play another snap, forcing true freshman Garrett Gilbert into action.

Texas (No. 2 ZSN/2 AP) was in control early after an Alabama fake punt deep in its own territory failed, as the Longhorns’ Blake Gideon intercepted punter P.J. Fitzgerald’s pass at the Crimson Tide 37. Cody Johnson ran for a first down on third-and-1, Tre’ Newton ran for 16 yards on a sweep and D.J. Monroe came in motion, took a handoff and ran 10 yards. Hunter Lawrence’s 18-yard field goal put Texas on top.

The Longhorns (13-1) then employed an intermediate kickoff instead of kicking it deep, and Curtis Brown came up with the ball to give Texas possession at the Alabama 30. Lawrence booted a 42-yard field goal to double the Horns’ lead.

Alabama (No. 1/1) finally put together a sustained drive and took the lead early in the second quarter. Quarterback Greg McElroy found Julio Jones for 23 yards before Ingram ran right up the middle for a 2-yard score. Leigh Tiffin hit the extra point for a 7-6 Crimson Tide lead.

The Crimson Tide (14-0) forced an overwhelmed Gilbert and Texas into a couple of three-and-outs before another touchdown. Richardson ran up the middle 49 yards to the end zone on the second play of the drive, and Tiffin extended the Alabama lead to 14-6.

Texas’ Justin Tucker’s next punt traveled just 35 yards, and Alabama All-American Javier Arenas returned it 12 yards to the Texas 29. Tiffin nailed a 26-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the half for what everyone assumed would be an 11-point halftime lead.

However, the Longhorns elected to try to grab a few more points before the half ended. That backfired horribly when Monroe bobbled Gilbert’s shovel pass into the line and defensive lineman Dareus picked the ball out of the air, stiff-armed Gilbert to the ground, spun away from another tackle and ran 28 yards for a score with 3 seconds to go. Tiffin’s kick gave the Crimson Tide a 24-6 advantage at the half.

Both teams’ first three possessions of the second half ended in punts before the Longhorns began to come back. Gilbert hit Marquise Goodwin for 13 yards on third-and-8 and then found Jordan Shipley running free down the middle for a 44-yard touchdown. Lawrence’s kick cut the Alabama lead to 24-13.

After Texas punted and Tiffin missed a field goal for Alabama, Gilbert settled in and directed the Longhorns offense to another score. The Tide’s Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody jumped offsides on third-and-1 and Shipley caught passes for 13 and 12 yards, the first to convert a third-and-9. Gilbert hit a wide-open Shipley for a 28-yard score and gunned a pass over the middle to Dan Buckner for the 2-point conversion to draw Texas to within 24-21 with 6:15 left in the game.

The Horns then forced an Alabama punt and took over at their own 7 with 3:14 to go. But Gilbert was hit from behind by the Crimson Tide’s Eryk Anders and fumbled, and Courtney Upshaw fell on it at the Texas 3.

Ingram powered his way to a 1-yard score with 2 minutes left. Arenas then picked Gilbert off for the second time, and Richardson punched in a 2-yard touchdown.

Fittingly, the Alabama defense intercepted Gilbert for the fourth time – Tyrone King snagged a deflection – to end it with 26 seconds left.

McElroy completed just 6 of 11 passes for 58 yards. But Ingram, named the game’s offensive MVP, and Richardson each surpassed 100 yards on the ground and ran for two scores against Texas’ top-ranked rushing defense – Ingram ran for 116 yards on 22 carries and Richardson ran 19 times for 109 yards.

Dareus was the defensive MVP.

Gilbert hit 15 of 40 for 186 yards, two scores and four interceptions in a debut as Texas’ offensive leader that was both challenging and promising. Shipley caught 10 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns and Goodwin made three receptions for 70 yards for Texas, which was seeking its second BCS title in five years.

Teams from the Southeastern Conference have now won four straight BCS titles. Florida beat Ohio State to cap the 2006 season, LSU took down the Buckeyes the next year and the Gators downed Oklahoma last season. … Alabama’s last national title was in 1992. … Texas won the last BCS championship played in Pasadena, defeating USC 41-36 in the 2006 Rose Bowl. … Ingram extended his school record for rushing yards in a season to 1,658 yards. … McElroy is 30-0 as a starter in high school at Carroll in Southlake, Texas, and college. He hasn’t lost a start since eighth grade. … Alabama coach Nick Saban became the first coach since the AP poll began to win national titles at two different schools. He directed LSU to a win in the 2004 Sugar Bowl. … Alabama has won 27 of its last 29 games. Texas lost for just the second time in its last 28 contests. … The Longhorns’ nation-long 17-game winning streak and seven-game postseason string came to an end.


Video credit – ESPN on ABC

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