It was fourth and one in the fourth quarter and the Longhorns were down by one, 21-20. They were on the Iowa 10 and Texas head coach Mack Brown could have elected to kick an easy field goal and take a two point lead. But Brown didn't. After calling a timeout to talk it over, Brown sent his twice-injured quarterback and Longhorn offense out on the field with the task of getting one yard. When the ball was snapped, instead of handing it to Selvin Young on the dive, McCoy rolled out and looked for the first down.
"I knew if I could get around the corner, I could do it," said McCoy.
McCoy got around the corner for an eight-yard gain and on the next play Young plunged the ball in for the go ahead score. In Texas' (10-3) 26-24 win over Iowa (6-7), McCoy's arm strength never waived, nor did his resolve, and the team rallied around him. McCoy said last season his mentor taught him how to carry a team.
"That's one of the things Vince (Young) taught me when he left," said McCoy. "You got to make ‘em believe."
McCoy and his teammates believed they could win this one.
The player who had the most questions surrounding him entering the contest represented the most consistently effective part of the Longhorns' offensive attack. McCoy was 26-of-40 for 308 yards and had two touchdowns in the game, his second giving him the NCAA single season record for passing touchdowns by a freshman (29). Afterwards McCoy, who won Alamo Bowl Offensive MVP, said his performance was dedicated to the departing offensive linemen who block for him.
"Those seniors, those three offensive linemen are family to me," said McCoy. "I can't say enough about them. I'll miss them so much."
McCoy showed no rust and his arm strength, as well as his resolve, never wavered. When asked if he had any problem coming back from his injury, McCoy laughed and said: "You tell me."
Texas threw the ball almost twice as many times as they ran it, 40 passes to 21 runs and only put up 70 yards on the ground, 52 of them coming in the second half.
"At halftime, Coach (Brown) said ‘I don't care if you throw the ball every down. Go out and win the game,'" said offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
Brown said the back and fourth battle ended with a Texas victory because the Longhorns stepped up at the right times throughout the game.
"It was really a game neither team should have lost," said Brown, "but it comes down to who makes the plays and we made the plays."
It seemed most of those plays involved the games' defensive MVP, Aaron Ross, some good for Texas and some not.
On Iowa's second drive of the game, already leading 7-0, Iowa quarterback Drew Tate hit wide receiver Andy Brodell on a curl underneath a cover three zone, turned up the field, juked Ross out of his shoes and flew up the sideline for a 63-yard touchdown. Brodell finished with 159 yards and two touchdowns in the game on six catches.
Texas defensive coordinator Duane Akina said Ross got left out on an island on a deep zone during the play.
"The linebacker got pulled by the ball fake, nice designed play, which drew the under cover," said Akina.
However, Akina says it still should have been a stop.
"He needed to keep that to a 10-yard gain and he usually makes that play," said Akina.
Ross then redeemed himself by turning the game in the favor of the Longhorns with one of his biggest defensive plays of the year.
Up 14-3 in the second quarter, Iowa faced a second and goal from the Texas 14 after driving from their own 3-yard-line deep into Texas territory. Tate looked to the corner of the endzone to take an 18-point lead and complete control of the game.
But Ross made an acrobatic interception in the endzone to give Texas the ball.
Interestingly enough, the play right before the interception that moved the Hawkeye's back to the 14 was the most controversial of the ball game. On second and goal from the nine, Tate rolled right and then threw back across the field to a completely wide open tight end, Scott Chandler, for what looked to be a touchdown. But the play was called back on an illegal man downfield call, although no linemen were further than five yards off the line.
But official Jeff Robinson explained that the call was actually made on Chandler because he had illegally lined up when he came in motion.
"The man who caught the ball (Chandler) came in motion and came across the line, which made him ineligible to go downfield to catch the ball," said Robinson. "There was already a man outside of him. The official term for the call is ‘covered up on the line.'"
Brown said that Chandler being covered up is the reason he was so open.
"When a guy's covered up, you don't cover him," said Brown.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't so sure that Chandler was completely on the line.
"I didn't agree with the call, but it was a close call. It was a mistake we made," said Ferentz, who also added: "The officiating crew did an outstanding job."
The Longhorns drove back down the field and scored on a 20-yard pass to Limas Sweed to narrow the game to 14-10. Ross said that he and his teammates were determined to go out and win for their defensive coordinator.
"Playing for coach Akina, we had to go out there and get the win," said Ross.
When asked if Akina should get the Longhorns' defensive coordinator job on a full-time basis, Ross gave full support to his defensive backs coach.
"Coach Akina made me what I am today," said Ross. "If it was my decision: of course."
DT Roy Miller had a career game, leading the team in tackles with 11, and said that the win was a huge relief for his beleaguered ball-club.
"We've been practicing real hard. It was kind of a relief because all of the hard work we put in, you're finally starting to see," said Miller.
Akina said Miller was key to much of what the Longhorns were able to do defensively.
"Roy's a warrior," said Akina. "You've got to have a great nose guard to stop the running game."
Iowa ran for only 89 yards on 34 carries as a team during the Alamo Bowl. Although the Longhorns ran for only 70 yards themselves, running back Jamaal Charles got 72 yards on a single pass play in the third quarter.
Down 14-13 to the Hawkeyes in the third quarter, McCoy and the offense trotted back out onto the field after a missed Iowa field goal and only needed a single play to get back in the endzone. Charles beat his man up the sideline on a wheel route and galloped 72 yards down the field and scored the touchdown. McCoy said that even when his team was down and facing adversity, they rallied and never stopped fighting.
"Nobody gave up and everybody believed and kept playing," said McCoy.
The Longhorns and McCoy kept playing till the very end and ensured that Texas' up and down season was on a very high note at the end.