Texas takes big step toward title game

Published 2:09 am Friday, November 27, 2009

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Colt McCoy threw four touchdown passes and No. 3 Texas overcame a huge game by Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson to wrap up an undefeated regular season with a 49-39 win over the Aggies on Thursday night.

The Longhorns (12-0, 8-0 Big 12) have only next week’s conference championship game against Nebraska standing between them and the BCS title game.

For a while, though, it seemed as though Johnson would rally the Aggies (6-6, 3-5) to a gigantic upset, shattering McCoy’s Heisman Trophy hopes and opening the door for TCU and Cincinnati to vault into the national championship picture.

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Jeff Fuller caught three touchdown passes from Johnson, the last with 7:10 left to cut Texas’ lead to 42-39. But Marquise Goodwin returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Longhorns could finally breathe easy after A&M’s Randy Bullock missed a 23-yard field goal try with 3:05 remaining.

McCoy completed 24 of 40 passes for 304 yards and ran for a career-high 175 yards on 18 carries. But Johnson was just as spectacular, completing 26 of 33 passes for 342 yards with four TD passes against the Longhorns’ third-ranked defense.

The two quarterbacks embraced at midfield after the game, and Johnson’s nationally televised showcase just might put him in the conversation for next year’s Heisman.

McCoy is a favorite to win it this year and he put together a monster first half, completing 18 of 26 passes for 222 yards with three TD passes. He also broke a 65-yard run up the middle early in the second quarter, the third longest rush by a Texas quarterback. McCoy had 111 yards rushing by that point, already a single-game career high.

The Longhorns piled up 398 yards by halftime against the nation’s 100th-ranked defense, but only led 28-21.

The Aggies took a surprising 7-0 lead on the third offensive play, a 70-yard pass from Johnson down the sideline to Fuller. It was the second-longest play from scrimmage against the Longhorns this season.

Early on, though, the Aggies’ defense couldn’t get close to McCoy even when they blitzed, and he tied it with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley with 3:42 left in the first quarter.

The Longhorns’ defense, meanwhile, had just as much trouble controlling the quick-footed Johnson, ranked 10th in the nation in total offense (293.9 yards per game) coming into the game.