McCoy, Longhorns get best of Johnson, Aggies in Texas shootout
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Colt McCoy and Jerrod Johnson embraced at midfield after their Texas shootout Thursday night.
McCoy still has his eyes on a national title and the Heisman Trophy. And if Johnson's dazzling display was any sign of things to come, the Texas A&M quarterback could be a leading contender next year for college football's most prestigious award.
McCoy threw four touchdown passes and dashed 65 yards for another score, and No. 3 Texas overcame a huge game by Johnson to wrap up an undefeated regular season with a wild 49-39 win over the Aggies.
"What a treat to watch two quarterbacks like that," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Fans around the country on Thanksgiving got a treat to see two quarterbacks play that well, two offenses play that well."
The Longhorns (12-0, 8-0 Big 12) have only next week's conference championship game against Nebraska standing between them and the BCS title game.
For a while, it seemed as though Johnson just might rally the Aggies (6-6, 3-5) to a gigantic upset, opening the door for TCU and Cincinnati to vault into the national championship picture.
"I can't say enough about Jerrod Johnson," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "He's probably under the radar for what he has been able to do. He managed the game very well."
Jeff Fuller caught three of Johnson's four touchdown passes, the last with 7:10 left to cut Texas' lead to 42-39. But Marquise Goodwin returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Longhorns could finally breathe easy when Randy Bullock missed a 23-yard field goal with 3:05 left.
"We were fortunate to come out on top. I'm so thankful to get a win," McCoy said. "You have to give A&M credit. I thought Jerrod Johnson played tremendous. A&M hung in and fought, and that's what you're going to get in a rivalry game."
McCoy completed 24 of 40 passes for 304 yards and ran for a career-high 175 yards, a splendid all-around performance that could boost his Heisman chances.
He went 18 for 26 for 222 yards with three TD passes in the first half, and his career-best 65-yard run up the middle early in the second quarter was the third-longest rush by a Texas quarterback. McCoy had 111 yards rushing by that point, already a career high.
The Longhorns piled up 398 yards by halftime against the nation's 100th-ranked defense, but only led 28-21.
The Aggies took a surprising 7-0 lead on the third offensive play, a 70-yard pass from Johnson down the sideline to Fuller. It was the second-longest play from scrimmage against the Longhorns this season.
Early on, though, the Aggies' defense couldn't get close to McCoy even when they blitzed, and he tied it with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
The Longhorns' defense, meanwhile, had just as much trouble controlling the quick-footed Johnson, ranked 10th in the nation in total offense (293.9 yards per game) coming into the game.
Johnson's 14-yard TD pass to Howard Morrow with 1:11 left in the half tied it 21-all. The Longhorns hadn't given up 21 points in a game since a 34-24 win over Texas Tech on Sept. 19.
"We feel we can match up with anyone in the country," Johnson said.
The Aggies left just enough time for McCoy to answer. He threw two passes to Shipley for big gains, then found James Kirkendoll for a TD with 5 seconds left before the break.
Tre Newton had a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for Texas before a scary collision hushed the crowd of 84,671 at Kyle Field.
Aggies defensive back Anthony Lewis and Texas defensive back Deon Beasley collided on the ensuing kickoff, and both players initially lay motionless. Lewis was helped off the field, but Beasley was put on a stretcher. He rejoined his teammates after the win and was given the game ball.
Johnson broke a 43-yard run but then was picked off in the end zone by Texas safety Earl Thomas, his school-record eighth interception this season.
Bullock's 31-yard field goal cut the deficit to 35-24, and the Aggies took over again at midfield after McCoy started to misfire. Michael spun off a Texas defender for a 16-yard touchdown, and Johnson completed a pass to Tannehill for the 2-point conversion to make it 35-32.
"Our production on offense was almost perfect," Johnson said.
McCoy had missed on seven straight passes before hitting Kirkendoll on a short route. Freshman defensive back Steven Terrell couldn't make the tackle and Kirkendoll raced the final 40 yards for a touchdown with 12:04 left.
Just when it seemed as though the Longhorns had put A&M away, Johnson marched the Aggies down the field again. He found freshman Ryan Swope for a 27-yard gain, then lofted a 20-yard TD pass to Fuller with 7:10 to go.
But Goodwin returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, and Texas escaped.
The Longhorns were upset by Texas A&M in 2006 and '07, but they've won twice since Sherman replaced Dennis Franchione as Aggies coach. Texas has eight of the last 10 meetings against its archrival.
This one, however, will go down as one of the most exciting in the 116-game series.
McCoy, Longhorns get best of Johnson, Aggies in Texas shootout - NCAA College Football Recap - ESPN
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