Texas Wins Holiday Bowl, Caps Bizarre Season With Bizarre Play
Longhorns fend off Arizona State and coaching interference call
Dec. 28, 2007
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SAN DIEGO (AP) - As wacky plays go, this one certainly earned a spot in Holiday Bowl lore.
What made it downright bizarre is that the central character wasn't a player.
Texas fans will remember Colt McCoy leading the No. 17 Longhorns to a 52-34 win Thursday night over the No. 12 Arizona State Sun Devils in the first meeting between the schools and their successful coaches.
No one will forget Chris Jessie, the stepson of Texas coach Mack Brown, inadvertently becoming part of the game.
With the Longhorns leading 21-0 and the Sun Devils driving early in the second quarter, ASU's Rudy Carpenter dropped back to pass and was hit by linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy. The ball squirted backward, toward the Longhorns' sideline.
Jessie, a member of his stepfather's football operations staff, stepped about a yard onto the field and was motioning toward a player when he reached down and appeared to touch the ball with his left thumb. Texas defensive tackle Roy Miller slapped the ball away from the sideline and defensive end Aaron Lewis recovered and returned it to about the ASU 44.
After a 12-minute review, officials reversed the play. They ruled that Jessie touched the ball, which is illegal interference, an unsportsmanlike foul. The ball reverted to the Sun Devils and Texas was penalized half the distance to the goal, giving ASU fourth-and-3 at the 7. Carpenter threw a touchdown pass to Chris McGaha.
"It was just natural instinct," Jessie said. "I thought it was a forward pass. I was looking at the ball being thrown and I was waiting for a grounding penalty. When I realized the ball was in play, I jumped back."
The gaffe didn't end up costing the Longhorns (10-3), other than some embarrassment.
"I didn't touch it, I didn't touch it," Jessie said. "The focus shouldn't be on me. That was a great game."
He said his stepfather told him "not to worry about it, the guys would pull it out."
Brown joked about it afterward.
"I was standing there. I didn't think he touched it, but it just shows you how badly our family wanted to win the game. He even got involved," Brown said.
"That's the most unusual play I've ever seen in college football," ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. "I was talking to the official and I said, in my 35 or 40 years - it feels like 50 right now - however many years I've coached, I've never seen anything like that."
The 86 points were the fourth-most in the Holiday Bowl's 30-year history, which is full of crazy plays and wild finishes.
Texas set team records for points in a bowl game and with its fourth straight postseason win.
McCoy led the way for the Longhorns, throwing for a touchdown, running for another and fumbling into the end zone at the end of a 30-yard run, with tight end Jermichael Finley recovering for a score.
McCoy fumbled four times. The Longhorns recovered three and ASU got the other one.
Jamaal Charles carried 27 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns for the Longhorns.
Brown and Erickson have been friends for years, but had never coached against each other. Erickson won two national championships at Miami and Brown coached Texas to the national title two years ago.
ASU (10-3) committed five turnovers, with Carpenter throwing two interceptions before leaving the game in the fourth quarter.
Carpenter had a horrible night, going 18-of-32 for 187 yards. He was sacked four times.
"I just couldn't step into my throws," Carpenter said. "They were bringing a lot of pressure and they were bringing heat. Sometimes I was trying to make some throws off my back foot and the ball is going to sail on you."
Texas cornerback Brandon Foster had a monster game, with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a tipped pass that was picked off by teammate Marcus Griffin.
McCoy was 21-of-31 passing for 174 yards, and carried 16 times for 84 yards.
The Longhorns raced to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, including the fastest score in Holiday Bowl history. McCoy threw a 2-yard TD pass to Derek Lokey just 1:21 in. John Chiles scored on a 4-yard run, and Charles had a 15-yard scoring run.
"When you play a team like Texas, they're too good to get in that type of deficit," Carpenter said.
After ASU's score following the bizarre play, McCoy added a 9-yard TD run.
It looked like he was going to score again in the third quarter when he went zigzagging through ASU's defense. But he fumbled as he was tackled at the 3 and the ball rolled into the end zone. Finley was the third player into the pile and ended up with the ball and the TD.
Vondrell McGee scored on a 28-yard run for Texas in the fourth quarter, and Charles added a 32-yard score.