3:30 PM ET, September 30, 2006
Kyle Field, College Station, TX
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Graham Harrell waited impatiently for Texas Tech's offense to hit its stride in the second half against Texas A&M.
The Red Raiders found it with less than a minute to spare.
Harrell threw three touchdown passes to Robert Johnson, including the game-winner with 26 seconds left, and Texas Tech beat Texas A&M 31-27 on Saturday.
"That was what an offense wants, an opportunity to win the game," said Harrell. "The last few plays, we got on the ball, got set, made the plays and won."
Tech trailed 27-24 when Johnson outleaped A&M cornerback Jordan Peterson to make an acrobatic catch in the front corner of the end zone, stunning the crowd of 85,979, the eighth largest in Kyle Field history.
As the teams lined up for the decisive play, Harrell spotted the single coverage on Johnson and called an audible.
"I was like, 'Robert against that guy?" Harrell said. "I like our chances."
Before that, the Aggies held the Red Raiders to only 58 yards after halftime.
|GAME OF THE WEEK|
ESPN Classic will air Texas Tech at Texas A&M on Sunday at 9 a.m. ET as the ESPN College Football Game of the Week.
Johnson also had TD catches of 21 and 5 yards in the second quarter for the Red Raiders (4-1, 1-0 Big 12).
Harrell completed 32 of 45 for 392 yards, shredding A&M's sixth-ranked pass defense most of the game. The Aggies (4-1, 0-1) were allowing only 127.5 yards passing per game.
"It's always tough to lose in the last minute," said A&M coach Dennis Franchione. "I've coached 34 years. I've had a lot of good wins and a lot of tough losses. You keep doing this long enough, you're going to."
Joel Filani also caught a TD pass from Harrell. Filani had 10 catches for 156 yards.
The Aggies' final 15 plays from scrimmage were clock-eating runs and Layne Neumann's 32-yard field goal with 2:12 left gave A&M a 27-24 lead. The Aggies won time of possession by nearly 15 minutes.
"Their offense started running those forever drives and we got out of rhythm," Harrell said.
But two minutes turned out to be plenty of time for the Red Raiders to answer, though they needed help from the replay official.
On the third play of their final drive, receiver Danny Amendola bobbled a Harrell pass and officials on the field ruled that A&M linebacker Mark Dodge had made a diving interception.
But the play was reviewed and replays showed the ball hit the ground first. Replay official Terry Turlington overruled the field ruling, correctly calling the pass incomplete.
"I didn't think he caught it," Harrell said. "When they showed the replay, obviously, they didn't think he caught it, either."
Five plays later, Johnson made the winning catch.
Tech outgained A&M 433-353 and won at Kyle Field for just the third time in its last 11 visits.
"It was a tough one to lose," said A&M quarterback Stephen McGee, who went 9-for-20 for 103 yards. "They made the play when they needed to and we didn't."
Tech safety Darcel McBath picked off McGee's first pass at the A&M 32, the first interception thrown by McGee in 91 attempts this season. The Raiders drove to the A&M 18, but settled for Alex Trlica's 33-yard field goal.
Franks took the ensuing kickoff, sidestepped a Tech defender and kicker Keith Toogood and ran untouched to the end zone. It was A&M's first kickoff return for a TD since 2003 and the longest since Sirr Parker's 100-yarder against Texas in 1996.
The Raiders drove to the Aggies' 7 on their next drive, but as Filani reached for the goal line after a catch, nose tackle Marques Thornton swatted the ball away and linebacker Matt Featherston recovered.
Filani took a short pass on Tech's next possession, broke free of Peterson and sprinted for a 54-yard touchdown.
The Aggies chewed up more than seven minutes on their answering drive and Lane scored on a 2-yard run, his 11th TD of the season.
Johnson's first two TD catches came late in the second quarter, capping drives that were both aided by roughing the passer penalties.
The Aggies consumed six more minutes with a 14-play drive in the third quarter but came away with only Layne Neumann's 30-yard field goal.
On A&M's next possession, Lane shed three tackles on a 21-yard run that spurred a 99-yard drive. Chris Alexander ended it with a game-tying, 4-yard TD run with 8:44 left.
The suddenly struggling Red Raiders went three-and-out on their next possession and the patient Aggies ran eight consecutive running plays to set up Neumann's go-ahead kick.
"We didn't have our best game, but we hung in there, kept fighting and fighting," McGee said. "We didn't give in. We fought to the very end. They just made one more play than we did."