Fiesta Bowl: Texas 24, Ohio State 21

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

By Andrew Bagnato
Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. ó Left out of the national title game, Colt McCoy and Texas made the most of their trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
McCoy hit Quan Cosby for a 26-yard touchdown with 16 seconds to play, lifting third-ranked Texas to a 24-21 win over No. 10 Ohio State on Monday.”I don’t think there’s anybody in the country who can beat us at this point,” McCoy said.
The Buckeyes nearly pulled off the upset behind quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor and Todd Boeckman but instead suffered another disappointing bowl loss.
McCoy, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, calmly led the team 78 yards in 11 plays and 1:42 without calling a timeout. On the touchdown, Cosby caught a short pass, slipped a tackle and sprinted toward the goal line before diving into the end zone.
The Longhorns (12-1) rebounded after Ohio State (10-3) had taken a 21-17 lead on a 15-yard run by Dan Herron with 2:05 to go. That score came five minutes after Boeckman hit Pryor for a 5-yard score to cut Texas’ lead to 17-15. Pryor’s pass on the two-point conversion was incomplete.For most of the night, the Buckeyes stifled the high-powered Longhorns, who averaged 43.9 points this season but mustered only a field goal in the first half.
They didn’t lead until a nifty third-quarter touchdown run by McCoy, who also threw for 414 yards and two scores with an interception.
The Longhorns hoped to use the Fiesta Bowl to persuade voters they deserved the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25, their only hope for a piece of a national championship.
“This team started this way and finished this way, and they’re obviously one of the best teams in the country if not the best,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Texas players rushed onto the field after Boeckman’s last-gasp pass hit the turf deep in Texas territory, then gathered in front of the band and sang “The Eyes of Texas with jubilant fans.
But early on, it looked as if the Buckeyes would finally be celebrating.
Texas brought Bevo, its steer mascot, but left its offense back in Austin, at least in a sluggish first half.
The Longhorns failed to score in the first quarter. Texas was shut out in only four quarters all season ó and only once in the first quarter, in a 39-33 loss at Texas Tech on Nov. 1.
The Buckeyes took a 3-0 lead on a 51-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey midway through the first period. Ohio State drove 43 yards in nine plays, the biggest chunk coming on a 22-yard burst by Wells.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Texas tied it at on a 27-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence. The Longhorns covered 57 yards, running twice for a total of no yards on the drive.
The Buckeyes responded with a 67-yard march to the Texas 7-yard line. But Buckeyes tackle Bryant Browning was flagged for a false start on third-and-2 at the 7, and after an incomplete pass the Buckeyes had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius to take a 6-3 lead.
Texas’ best chance came late in the half, when McCoy smartly marched the Longhorns from their own 9 to the Ohio State 16 in 47 seconds.
But on third-and-2 at the Buckeyes 16 and 9 seconds to go, McCoy threw perhaps his worst pass of the season. McCoy lobbed the ball toward Cosby at the goal line, but safety Anderson Russell picked it off to kill the threat.
Had McCoy thrown the ball into the seats, the Longhorns would have had time for a chip-shot tying field goal. But they went into the dressing room still down by three.
It didn’t take McCoy long to atone.