Rose Bowl Turning Point

<B>turning point</B> - <I>n.</I> The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

This one was subtle, yet obvious. It was small in time, but big in momentum. And it included a huge defensive play by a guy named Derek – and no, that’s not a misspelling.

At the conclusion of the third quarter it didn’t look promising for Texas. After the Longhorns scored on their initial offensive possession to start the second half, two of the next three drives stalled and were sandwiched around the one drive that ended abruptly on a Vince Young interception. To make matters worse, the Texas defense, which had allowed a whopping grand total of three points all season during the third quarter, surrendered points each time Michigan touched the ball on offense, including two touchdowns and a field goal. Michigan 31, Texas 21.

Then came the fourth quarter, and what a quarter it was.

Following a Richmond McGee punt of 46 yards that finally pinned the Wolverines deep in their own territory at the 13, the Michigan offense took the field with 14:41 remaining in the game. On first down, Michigan’s freshman quarterback Chad Henne went his go-to guy, All-American receiver Braylon Edwards for a four-yard quick hitter.

What happened next was the defensive play of the game. On second and 6 from the 17, Henne dropped back and handed off to a fellow freshman, running back Michael Hart for a run outside to the right. Hart received the ball at the 12-yard-line. Appropriately enough, another true freshman finished the play. Texas’ freshman tackle Derek Lokey, who has played sparingly throughout the season, blew past Michigan’s senior All-American and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, center David Baas, as if he was shot out of "Old Smokey" to bring down Hart at the 10-yard line for a seven-yard loss. Lokey’s one tackle for the game was huge because it put the Wolverines in a third and long situation in the shadow of their own goalposts.

On third and 13, Henne found his other main target, Steve Breaston, who tiptoed down the sideline before falling out of bounds for an 11-yard gain but short of the first down. The defensive stop was a huge shift in momentum as the Longhorns not only stopped the Wolverines for the first time in the second half, but they did so in three quick plays to preserve enough time on the clock for the eventual comeback and did so deep in Michigan territory which eventually set up the Longhorn offense in great field position for the first time in the game.

As they say, the rest is history.

With the conclusion of the Rose Bowl and the 2004 season, Derrick Johnson will leave The University of Texas as one of, if not the greatest defensive player to ever wear the Burnt Orange, but another Derek made a name for himself early Saturday evening on one of college football’s grandest stages.

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