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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
High Plains Drama: Crabtree's grab stuns No. 1 Texas
Date: Nov. 1, 2008
Place: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
Score: Texas Tech 39, Texas 33
|AP Photo/LM Otero|
|Michael Crabtree's game-winning 28-yard catch against Texas was arguably the play of year last season in college football.|
It was one of the wildest plays in Big 12 history, the kind of play that still resonates after thousands have watched on You Tube.
Michael Crabtree's game-winning 28-yard catch from Graham Harrell did more than merely wrap up the biggest victory in Texas Tech history. It was also a national coming-out party for the Tech program, pushing them to the highest ranking in school history.
To get there, they needed a miraculous play by Crabtree and a strong throw from quarterback Harrell. The Red Raiders got both on the game's last play from scrimmage.
Crabtree admitted he was guilty of daydreaming after Vondrell McGee's 4-yard touchdown run had given Texas a 33-32 lead with 1:29 left. Tech then took over after Jamar Wall returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tech 38.
The Red Raiders dodged a bullet on the play immediately before Crabtree's touchdown. Texas freshman safety Blake Gideon dropped a potential game-clinching interception on a ball that was tipped by Tech's Edward Britton.
On the next play, Crabtree snagged the long pass from Harrell deep along the right sideline before breaking the tackle of Curtis Brown. Crabtree then kept his balance, stayed in bounds and streaked into the end zone for the dramatic score.
Matt Williams added the extra point, but the game wasn't over. Because thousands of Tech fans had streamed onto the field after Crabtree's touchdown, the Red Raiders were forced to kick from their own 7½ yard line.
But Texas couldn't match miracles with the Red Raiders. D.J. Monroe's fumbled return was recovered by Daniel Charbonnet to put away the upset over the No. 1 Longhorns.
Tech had outplayed Texas for most of the game, setting the tone by scoring their first points defensively when Colby Whitlock tackled Chris Ogbonnaya for a safety. They pushed the lead to 19-0 midway through the second quarter when Harrell hooked up with Eric Morris on an 18-yard scoring toss.
But Texas charged back, trimming to Tech's halftime lead to 22-6 on Hunter Lawrence's 25-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
Jordan Shipley provided a big play early in the third quarter when he returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown to trim Tech's lead to 22-13. But Charbonnet returned an interception from McCoy 18 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes later to boost Tech back into a 29-13 advantage.
That's when McCoy went to work. Despite battling the effects of a bloody lip, he provided two huge touchdown passes to Malcolm Williams in a span of barely four minutes to pull Texas back into the game.
The first scoring toss covered 37 yards, trimming Tech's lead to 29-19. And on the second one, Williams got behind the Tech secondary on a 91-yard scoring toss to pull the Longhorns within 29-26.
Tech kicker Donnie Carona, who had been relegated to the bench earlier in the season after a persistent slump, tacked on a 42-yard field goal with 5:45 left to cap a 13-play, 55-yard scoring drive.
But Tech's 32-26 lead didn't appear to be enough. And it wasn't as McCoy coolly led the Longhorns on an 80-yard drive capped by McGee's touchdown run.
Crabtree had been hobbled earlier in the game with a gimpy ankle and twice was removed from action in the first quarter. But he was ready on his only catch of the final drive.
Before then, Harrell completed his first four passes to start the game-winning drive.
And after Gideon's drop, the Red Raiders still might have had a chance to win the game on a field goal.
But Crabtree didn't want to leave anything to chance, setting the stage for 2008's most memorable play by charging to the end zone.
They said it, part I: "On the sideline, I kind of dreamed that I would catch a pass and go in the end zone for a game-winning score. I do that in every game, but this time it happened. It kind of shocked me," Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, on his game-winning reception.
They said it, part II: "It was definitely a good win. But, I coached a 13-year-old all star team and we beat Cheyenne one time and I thought that was a bigger win," Tech coach Mike Leach on the Red Raiders' improbable victory.
They said it, part III: "Play 60 minutes. You may have a second to spare," Leach, on his team's resiliency.
They said it, part IV: "All we needed was a field goal, but a touchdown was even sweeter. If you're a quarterback and don't want to be in that situation, you should probably change positions," Tech quarterback Graham Harrell on the comeback victory.
They said it, part V: "They played harder than us. They never quit. They kept fighting," Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who was gunning for his 10th come-from-behind victory before Crabtree's heroics.
They said it, part VI: "We had a lot of problems. But to their credit they kept fighting back. All we did was score too quickly at the end. We should have taken more time off the clock," Texas coach Mack Brown, on his team's comeback from an early 19-point deficit.
Factoids: After punting after their first drive, Tech took control by scoring on their next three possessions and four of their first six in the first half. But Texas climbed back in by scoring touchdowns on three straight drives before their game-ending fumble ... Harrell completed 36-of-53 passes for 474 yards, including completions to nine different receivers. Crabtree produced a game-high 10 grabs for 127 yards, while Edward Britton added seven catches for 139 yards ... Texas wide receiver Malcolm Williams, forced into the game because of an early injury to starting wide receiver Quan Cosby, produced four catches for a game-high 182 yards ... It was Tech's first victory in school history against a No. 1 team ... The late loss kept Texas from navigating a difficult four-game gauntlet after earlier beating No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 11 Missouri and No. 7 Oklahoma State in the previous three weeks. Tech was ranked No. 6 coming into the game ... Tech kicker Matt Williams, who was plucked from the student section earlier in the season, converted field goals of 29 and 31 yards, but was pulled in favor of Donnie Carona after he had a kick blocked in the second half ... Harrell finished by passing for 167 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
The upshot: Crabtree's heroics set up the wildest Big 12 South Division race in history. In the end, Texas, Oklahoma and Tech all finished with 7-1 conference records. The Sooners advanced to the championship game by winning out on the fifth tiebreaker, despite losing to the Longhorns earlier during the regular season.
Oklahoma finished a single point ahead of Texas in the USA Today coaches' poll and six points behind them in the Harris poll. That left it to the computer ratings, where the Sooners came out ahead in four of the six elements of the poll.
Tech's South Division hopes were quashed three weeks later when they were blown out in a 65-21 loss at Oklahoma as the Sooners erupted for 625 yards of total offense.
That loss dropped them to the Cotton Bowl where they squandered an early 14-0 lead in a 47-34 loss to Mississippi. That defeat dropped them to 11-2 and 12th in the final Associated Press poll -- their highest end-of-season finish in 35 years.
Texas went on to win their final four games of the season, capping it with a dramatic 24-21 triumph over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Longhorns finished 12-1 and No. 4 in the final AP poll, and arguably only one second from a perfect record. It was their highest end-of-season finish since winning the national championship in 2005.
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