Cotton Bowl coverage -

Junior OLB Patrick Trahan delivered one of the fatal blows to Texas Tech in the 47-34 Rebel win in the Cotton Bowl when he sacked Tech QB Graham Harrell for a safety.

Ole Miss junior Outside Linebacker Patrick Trahan wasn't sure if he should "go" or not, but he knew if he did, he better make it count.

To set the scene, the Rebs had just fumbled at the Tech one leading 38-28 with roughly 10 minutes to go in the game.

Even though they were in a deep hole, there was plenty of time for Tech QB Graham Harrell and the explosive Red Raider offense to mount a comeback.

Harrell got the snap and dropped deep in his end zone. Trahan's responsibility was the tight end, who was blocking on the play and did not release into a pattern.

In a split second, Patrick decided to blitz and was praying during his quick route to Harrell that the tight end had not released.

Trahan crashed into Harrell, the ball flew out of Harrell's hands through the back of the end zone and the Rebs had a safety, a 40-28 lead and the ball back.

Game, set, match.

"Coach (Tyrone) Nix told us to go get the ball back. We had them in a hole and that was our intention, but we had to be careful not to let them out of that hole. We didn't want to give them any room to operate," Trahan said. "I had the tight end man-to-man and blocked the defensive end.

"I saw an opening and went for it. Thank God the TE didn't release into some kind of quick route. I was trying to knock Harrell out of the end zone. After making that decision to go, I had to make the play."

The gamble paid off.

"We are taught if our guy blocks to blitz in some situations, but you have to be sure you don't get burned on it," Trahan continued. "It's a read and react kind of thing. It can be a gamble, but I thought I could get there and make something big happen.

"Coach Nix told us all week that we would have to make things happen against an offense like this, so that's what I did."

Trahan closed on Harrell like a hawk on a rabbit. Harrell never saw it coming.

"I guess it was like a delayed blitz," Harrell said postgame. "The guy who hit me came through like he was shot out of a gun. He was on me before I could do anything."

Trahan felt the Rebs had Harrell rattled by the time that play surfaced in the game.

"He had started to get antsy before then. We had been roughing him up pretty good, even though we didn't sack him that much. We were hitting him, which was our plan," Patrick stated. "I think our pressure caused one interception and I think we got him to hurry a lot."

That one play, though, encapsulates why Trahan was such a hot commodity out of Northwest CC last year.

Speed.

Patrick has it.

"To be honest, I'm really just now coming into my own on this level. I'd say I have been comfortable for about half the season, but even then I did not really turn it all loose," said Trahan. "Now I feel like I'm back to my old self, even better."

Now, it's back to the drawing board with the offseason and the 2009 season already being focused on.

"We can go into the offseason with a great taste in our mouths," Trahan closed. "The seniors put us in a great situation to keep building off what we did the last six games.

"Our program is heading in the right direction. Next year's senior class will be strong. We all have to remember what got us to this point and what it will take to take us even further next year."

Trahan hopes this year, with the Cotton Bowl ending, will earn Ole Miss football some respect.

"A lot of America counted us out all year. We were an afterthought. Our win over Florida was a fluke, some said, but we proved all year we can play with anybody and beat anybody. Our coaches put us in a position to win all 13 games. The losses are on us, not them," he closed. "When we finally believed we could be very good, we ran off six straight wins to close out the year.

"We want to keep building on that feeling."


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