Red Raiders rally past Cavaliers

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Texas Tech didn't score 40 or more points, as it had all season. Through three quarters, the nation's top passing offense couldn't score much at all.

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Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was busy completing 44 of 69 passes for 409 yards in the Gator Bowl win over Virginia.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was busy completing 44 of 69 passes for 409 yards in the Gator Bowl win over Virginia.

But quarterback Graham Harrell stayed with it, and the Red Raiders scored just enough to overcome a 14-point deficit and stun No. 21 Virginia 31-28 on a late field goal in the Gator Bowl on Tuesday.

Harrell completed 44 of 69 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns for Texas Tech (9-4).

Alex Trlica hit from 41 yards, despite a swirling wind, with 7 seconds remaining. It was the third game-winner of the senior kicker's career, and came at an appropriate time. Earlier in the game, Trlica became the first kicker in school history to score at least 100 points in a season.

"I think it gets easier with every time," Trlica said of game-winning field goals. "Compared to the first time I had to do it and this time, I was a lot more calm. I knew they were going to call timeout."

Virginia coach Al Groh did, but it didn't faze Trlica.

In the final period, the Red Raiders finally found the end zone as they were accustomed to all year -- twice, actually -- and Trlica's field goal did the rest.

"I was thinking, 'Hey, if we can just get into field goal range we're probably going to win this,' " Harrell said.

"But I wanted to go throw it myself," he said. "When we kick, I just hate kicking. You're no longer in control."

"Those guys are hard to hold down, and we held them down for a long time," Groh said.

The Red Raiders overcame a tremendous effort by Virginia tailback Mikell Simpson, who ran for 170 yards on 20 carries -- including an NCAA bowl-record 96-yard TD run -- and caught another touchdown.

Pretty impressive, considering he was playing receiver for the Cavaliers (9-4) until backfield injuries pressed him into service in October.


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