By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
Love this quote from Texas Tech coach Mike Leach following the Red Raiders’ comeback 31-28 win against Virginia in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“Everybody continued to expect to win, and that’s a big part of it,” Leach said in the Dallas Morning News. “You fight to the finish and see where it takes you.”
That’s not all there is to it, but it’s a fine start. The game is going to end at some point. There’s simply no reason to give up on it. Fight or not, it will end in a couple hours, so keep playing. Maybe you win.
The Raiders played a sputtering game for most of four quarters against the Virginia Cavaliers, trailing, 28-14, with less than six minutes to play. Tech trailed, 21-7, at halftime after quarterback Graham Harrell took two safeties for intentional grounding in the end zone. The game was not going well.
But Tech is a football team you’ve got to love because the kids keep playing. That Insight Bowl last year, when Tech came from 31 points down to beat Minnesota, is a huge moment in the program’s recent history because it showed very concretely that Tech is never out of a game.
Down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Tech kept playing. A 14-yard pass from Harrell to Danny Amendola on fourth-and-four put the Raiders at the Virginia 20. Then, Harrell hit Michael Crabtree with a 20-yard touchdown pass that survived a replay showing the receiver brushed his left foot against the boundary chalk in a very close play, as they say.
Moments later, Tech defensive tackle Rajon Henley sacked Virginia quarterback Peter Lalich on a screen pass, forcing a fumble. Tech recovered at the Virginia four and Tech’s Aaron Crawford ran it in on the next play, tying the game at 28-28 with 3:10 left.
In the end, Tech drove to a game-winning, 41-yard field goal by Alex Trlica with two seconds remaining. Tech wins, 31-28, finishing the year 9-4.
Another Big 12 team, the Missouri Tigers, turned in quite an impressive effort Tuesday in the Cotton Bowl, smashing the Arkansas Razorbacks, 38-6. Wins for Tech and Missouri, along with earlier bowl wins by the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowboys, give the Big 12 a 4-1 record in bowls so far. The exception is the Texas A&M Aggies’ 24-17 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions, which, considering A&M ended frazzled season in Joe Paterno’s 500th game, is not a stunner.
The Big 12 can end its bowl season emphatically in the next couple days. The Oklahoma Sooners play the West Virginia Mountaineers tonight in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners, ranked fourth in the BCS, return a lot of talent and could position themselves for a high preseason ranking and a national title run next year with a win tonight. Also, the Kansas Jayhawks play the Virginia Tech Hokies Thursday night in the Orange Bowl with a chance to cap a breakthrough season.Email | Print