Sunday, December 6, 2009
Lawrence etches name in Longhorn lore
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When asked by a reporter this week if he was ready to win the Big 12 championship with a kick, Texas kicker Hunter Lawrence said he would have preferred his team to cruise to a 21-point victory.
Lawrence wasn't quite that fortunate Saturday night, but he still etched his name in Longhorn lore with one of the clutch plays in the history of the school.
Hunter Lawrence nailed a 46-yard field goal as time expired to give Texas a 13-12 victory over Nebraska.
His 46-yard field goal as time expired boosted Texas into the BCS national championship game with a 13-12 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game.
"I was just trying to stay focused and not get too nervous," Lawrence said. "It was a great feeling when it finally went through."
His teammates could joke after the game about Lawrence's excitement to make history.
"Hunter's always wanted to be on that stage," Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said. "He's been asking me all year to get there."
Lawrence's time at Texas has been star-crossed throughout his career. He was one of Mack Brown's first scholarship kickers, but lost his starting job to Ryan Bailey in 2006. In one of Bailey's first clutch kicks, he beat Nebraska in the snow on a late kick.
Despite losing his job, Lawrence never lost his faith. He rebounded to reclaim the starting job midway through last season and converted 21 of 24 kicks before his last-second attempt.
There was some doubt he would receive a chance Saturday night. Game officials originally ruled that the clock expired, before huddling and placing another second on the clock to give Lawrence his opportunity.
"When we saw Colt talking about it, we saw time left, but it's never good when you have something in somebody other than your team's hands," Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle said. "So hopefully, we were thinking the Lord saw the clock on one, and that the refs was going to stay true to his morals and give us our second."
To soothe Lawrence during two Nebraska timeouts that preceded his kick, holder Jordan Shipley calmed him with a Bible verse as a nod to routine.
"We've been kind of doing that before practice and every time we warm up," Shipley said. "So I gave him Jeremiah 17:7, that says that 'blessed is a man who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in him.'
"We all had faith in Hunter and his ability and I think everybody on our sideline was full of faith and confidence that he was going to make that kick. I just tried to ease his mind because I'm sure he was feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders at that time."
It was the fourth game-winning kick on the final play in Mack Brown's coaching tenure at Texas. Lawrence's first game-winning attempt enabled him to join Dusty Mangum (2005 Rose Bowl against Michigan) and Bailey (2006 against Nebraska and 2007 against Oklahoma State.)
With the rest of his team playing so hard in its bid for its first Big 12 title since 2005, Lawrence was determined to make the kick -- even if he had to battle through nerves.
"We went out there and knew we had to make it, because their defense had played so well and our offense did an amazing job in the last minute to give us a chance," Lawrence said. "I just had to make it for them."