for this game

Texas Tech stuns Virginia with late rally

Jan 2, 2008 - 2:32 AM JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Virginia learned what Minnesota discovered last season - with Graham Harrell at the controls, Texas Tech is never out of a game.

Alex Trlica kicked a 41-yard field goal with two seconds remaining Tuesday as the Red Raiders rallied for 17 points in the final 3 1/2 minutes to stun the 21st-ranked Cavaliers, 31-28, in the Gator Bowl.

A year ago, Texas Tech staged the biggest comeback in bowl history, rallying from a 31-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat Minnesota, 44-41, in the Insight Bowl.

"I think it gets easier with every time," Trlica told the Houston Chronicle of booting game-winning field goals. "Compared to the first time I had to do it, this time, I was a lot more calm. I even knew (Virginia) wase going to call timeout to try to freeze me."

Trlica, who became the first kicker in school history to score at least 100 points in a season, has kicked three game-winners in his four-year career.

The Red Raiders (9-4) did not face that big of a hole against Virginia. But they did trail, 28-14, when they got back the ball with just under six minutes remaining.

"We didn't play the game like the game was in hand," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "We knew coming in here that, for both teams, the game was never going to be over. Each team had proven their ability to come back at the end of a game. We were well aware of that circumstance."

Texas Tech appeared headed for defeat when it came up empty on a 13-play drive on its previous possession. Virginia maintained its two-touchdown lead after freshman Michael Crabtree was unable to make a leaping catch on Harrell's pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

"We had quite a few bad breaks, a lot of which we created ourselves," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach told the Chronicle.

But Harrell never stopped throwing, as the junior completed 44-of-69 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns.

After holding Harrell and company in check for three quarters, the Cavaliers (9-4) collapsed under the weight of Texas Tech's offensive assault.

Virginia also was hurt when starting quarterback Jameel Sewell left late in the third quarter with a left knee injury.

The Red Raiders overcame a 96-yard touchdown by Mikell Simpson, the longest run in Virginia history and the second-longest in bowl history.

Overall, Simpson rushed for a career-high 170 yards on 20 carries and also caught an 11-yard TD pass from freshman backup Peter Lalich that gave Virginia a 28-14 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter.

"We had a chance to do something few Virginia teams have ever done and that was to win 10 games," Groh said. "We had our opportunities and probably frankly we gave the thing away."

Harrell endured a difficult first half as he was pressured into two safeties with a pair of intentional grounding penalties in the end zone.

With Virginia's defense dominating, the Cavaliers built a 21-7 halftime lead, but they could not hold down Harrell for 60 minutes.

With Virginia leading, 28-14, Harrell engineered a nine-play, 51-yard drive, tossing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree to pull the Red Raiders within 28-21 with 3:31 remaining.

Likely needing only one first down to run out the clock, Lalich committed a costly turnover as tackle Rajon Henley knocked the ball loose while hitting the quarterback. Fellow lineman Colby Whitlock recovered the fumble at the 4-yard line.

The Red Raiders needed only one play to tie the contest on Aaron Crawford's four-yard TD burst up the middle.

"We went out there with the attitude that we have nothing to lose," Virginia defensive end Chris Long said. "We're facing a coach that's regarded as a genius. It's an offense that's basically like the Indianapolis Colts, that's what we were told. And they really lived up to that. They were a heck of an offensive team."

Things continue to unravel for the Cavaliers as they went three-and-out on their next possession. A 23-yard punt gave Harrell the ball at the Red Raiders' 47-yard line.

With Virginia's demoralized defense on its heels, Harrell kept the ball on the ground to set up Trlica for his winning kick.

"I was thinking, 'Hey, if we can just get into field goal range we're probably going to win this,'" Harrell said. "But I wanted to go throw it myself. When we kick, I just hate kicking. You're no longer in control."

Ironically, Virginia set an NCAA record by winning five games by two points or less during the regular season.

Crabtree, the winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, caught nine passes for 101 yards en route to being named the game's MVP.

The loss prevented Virginia from matching a school record for wins set in 1989, when the Cavaliers finished 10-3.






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  • GATOR BOWL
    AT JACKSONVILLE FL
    NCAAF FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TEXAS TECH 7 0 7 17 31
    VIRGINIA (21) 9 12 0 7 28 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TEXAS TECH - TD, DETRON LEWIS 10 YD PASS FROM
    GRAHAM HARRELL (ALEX TRLICA
    KICK), 5:25. TEXAS TECH 7-0
    VIRGINIA - TD, JONATHAN STUPAR 3 YD PASS FROM
    JAMEEL SEWEL

    Jan 1 5:08 PM


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    AT JACKSONVILLE FL
    NCAAF GATOR BOWL
    FG TEXAS TECH
    ALEX TRLICA 41 YD
    TEXAS TECH 31
    VIRGINIA (21) 28 0:02 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Texas Tech vs. Virginia(21)Jan 1 5:07 PM
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    VIRGINIA (21) 28 3:10 LEFT, 4TH QTR

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    VIRGINIA (21) 28 3:31 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Texas Tech vs. Virginia(21)Jan 1 4:41 PM
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    AT JACKSONVILLE FL
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    VIRGINIA (21) 28 11:26 LEFT, 4TH QTR

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    AT JACKSONVILLE FL
    NCAAF END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TEXAS TECH 7 0 7 14
    VIRGINIA (21) 9 12 0 21 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TEXAS TECH - TD, DETRON LEWIS 10 YD PASS FROM
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    VIRGINIA - TD, JONATHAN STUPAR 3 YD PASS FROM
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    AT JACKSONVILLE FL
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    VIRGINIA (21) 21 10:01 LEFT, 3RD QTR

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    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TEXAS TECH - TD, DETRON LEWIS 10 YD PASS FROM
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    VIRGINIA - TD, JONATHAN STUPAR 3 YD PASS FROM
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    Texas Tech vs. Virginia(21)Jan 1 1:42 PM


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    TEXAS TECH 7
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