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Texas Draws the Line in Win

Defense comes up big against USC when it counts most, and offense gives Young a chance to shine.

January 05, 2006|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Although Vince Young will be remembered for years to come because of his spectacular performance on Wednesday, Texas won its second Rose Bowl in a row because of the Longhorns' resiliency in the trenches.

With the Trojans in position to run out the clock if they picked up a first down on fourth and two with 2 minutes 13 seconds remaining, Texas' defense stuffed LenDale White.

"I understand why they went to it because all game we could not really stop LenDale White," Texas safety Michael Griffin said. "He was getting yards on us, stiff-arming us and running hard. He's a great back and if he was on our team, I would have had faith in him too on fourth and one."

Defensive end Brian Robison was the first to hit White.

"Their tackle and the tight end tried to double-team me on the play and I was able to split them," Robison said. "Then the fullback came after me and I was able to get underneath him to get to the ball. I don't know who came in over the top to help, but for me, this is the highlight of my football career.

"The thing is, I could tell that they were going to run a power [over tackle] because it started off like they had blocked it all game."

White fell inches short of a first down and Texas' game-winning drive began at its own 44-yard line with 2:09 remaining.

Young, who ripped through USC's defense all night, faced a different look from the Trojans on the final possession. After trying several different defensive looks, USC decided to blitz Young from all angles, and the tactic gave him some trouble -- at first.

But on third and 12, Young completed a seven-yard pass to Quan Cosby and Texas gained a first down when USC's Darnell Bing grabbed Cosby's facemask.

Young completed a nine-yard pass to Brian Carter, then scrambled seven yards for a first down to put the Longhorns at the USC 30 with 37 seconds remaining. Young followed that with a 17-yard completion to Carter to take the ball to the Trojan 13.

That's when USC went back to all-out blitzes.

"We pretty much were trying to get pressure on him and form a bubble," USC defensive end Frostee Rucker said. "We wanted to get guys [into the Texas backfield] and then have the guys behind us there to make the plays."

Again, the move had some success. Young threw an incompletion, gained five yards on another scramble and failed to complete a quick slant pass on third down.

That set the stage for the play of the game when Texas found itself with a fourth down and five from the Trojan eight.

"Negative plays did not come into our head," Texas tackle Jonathan Scott said. "We had drove down the field most of the game and we knew that we were going to get a positive play.

"Vince is such a ringleader who had so much faith in everyone else.... There was no way that he was going to be denied that touchdown."

On fourth down, Young broke USC containment and ran eight yards for the winning score with 19 seconds remaining. And just for good measure, he added a two-point conversion.

"On the drive, we were confident that we could get it done," offensive tackle Justin Blalock said. "We knew this was our opportunity to do something really big. We knew that this was the chance for us to win a national championship and we wanted to bring it home."

For the Trojans, their inability to control Young hurt them, but Rucker said Young had plenty of help.

"Texas' linemen did a good job of getting downfield and making blocks on guys who we needed to help keep him from getting to the edge. He was able to keep plays alive once we got pressure on him."

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