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Crabtree's dreams of late heroics are realized

11/2/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Before taking the field for the final time Saturday night, Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree paused for a few seconds to visualize a few pleasant thoughts before the biggest possession of his college career.

"On the sidelines, I kind of dreamed I would catch a pass and go into the end zone for the winning touchdown," Crabtree said, still a little awe-inspired by the reality of what transpired. "I do that in every game, but tonight it happened. It kind of shocked me."

His game-winning 28-yard touchdown grab from Graham Harrell with only one second remaining punctuated a wild 39-33 victory over Texas. Many are already calling it the greatest game in the history of the Big 12.

It enabled Tech to claim its first victory over a No. 1 team and also boosted the Red Raiders into legitimate contention for a BCS bowl berth. It may have boosted an even bigger dream for Crabtree -- the Red Raiders' first national championship.

But after the touchdown, as Tech fans charged onto the field, Crabtree was more concerned about his personal safety than anything else.

"After the celebration, I fell to the ground and I couldn't breathe," Crabtree said. "I was telling everybody to get off of me. But it was great."

It was fitting that even with the development of many new weapons in the Red Raiders' offensive arsenal, their most potent one stepped up when his team most needed him.

His 10 receptions and 127 yards came despite an ankle injury that still had him hobbling after the game.

But that pain was forgotten as he thought back to his game-winning play, when he outmaneuvered Texas sophomore cornerback Curtis Brown and then outran redshirt freshman safety Earl Thomas to the end zone.

"My eyes were on the sidelines the whole time," Crabtree said. "I was trying to not step out of bounds because the safety had fallen down. It worked."

Texas coach Mack Brown was raving about Crabtree's effort on his game-winning touchdown.

"It was a great play by a great player that was double teamed," Brown said.

Crabtree claimed he was at 100 percent when he was on the field, but it was clear at times that he was struggling with a gimpy ankle that was sprained when he returned a kickoff against Texas A&M two weeks ago.

"My ankle kept tweaking and it was getting sore," Crabtree said. "But I finally just went out and played through the game. I was 100 percent, because when I'm on the field, I give my all."

That was clear with the relish he attacked other phases of his game. On several screen passes, Crabtree tied up two defenders with punishing blocking.

"Basically, I do my job and what I can control," Crabtree said. "If I have to block, I'm going to block. If I'm open, I just control what I do."

His receiving performance was more like last season, when he produced eight double-figure reception games on his way to national freshman records with 134 receptions and 1,962 receiving yards.

It hasn't come as easily this season, but Crabtree has kept playing -- and dreaming for his shot at late-game heroics.

"This was the biggest catch I've ever made and the greatest win I've ever been a part of," Crabtree said. "It's all fun out there."