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.
But Graham Harrell stayed with it, finishing 44-of-69 for 407 yards and three TDs, 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.
Alex Trlica hit from 41 yards, despite swirling wind, with 2 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 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.
Tech overcame several mental errors, including pivotal penalties and a fumble, to come back from a 28-14 fourth quarter deficit. Its aggressive pass offense couldn't score much for three quarters, but Harrell still managed to rack up Gator Bowl records for yards, completions and attempts.
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. When we kick, I just hate kicking. You're no longer in control."
The Red Raiders overcame a tremendous effort by Virginia tailback Mikell Simpson, who ran for 170 yards on 20 carries including a NCAA bowl-record 96-yard TD run and caught another touchdown. He began the year as a receiver for Virginia.