Final Score: Texas Tech 31, (21) Virginia 28
Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - Alex Trlica's 41-yard field goal with two seconds left capped a furious Texas Tech comeback and lifted the Red Raiders to a 31-28 victory over 21st-ranked Virginia in the Gator Bowl.
With the score deadlocked at 28, Texas Tech began the game-winning drive at its own 47. Four consecutive runs by Kobey Lewis, who recovered his own fumble during one of the carries, spotted the ball at the Virginia 34. Graham Harrell then completed a nine-yard pass to Lewis, setting the stage for Trlica's heroics.
Virginia coach Al Groh called a timeout in an attempt to freeze Trlica, who split the uprights and completed a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback. The Red Raiders (9-4) scored 17 points in the final 3:31 of regulation to improve to 3-1 in the Gator Bowl.
Harrell threw for 407 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Michael Crabtree caught nine passes for 101 yards with one score and Eric Morris finished the game with 77 yards on nine receptions. Danny Amendola added six grabs for 68 yards and one touchdown.
Mikell Simpson rushed for 170 yards on 20 carries, including a record-setting 96-yard touchdown, and added 36 yards on five catches for Virginia (9-4), which finished the season on a two-game skid. Jameel Sewell threw for only 78 yards with one touchdown before leaving in the fourth quarter with a left knee sprain. He did return late in the period.
Freshman Peter Lalich relieved Sewell and threw one touchdown pass.
"This is a very special group of players," said Groh. "Their hearts not only beat for competition but beat for each other. We had a chance to do something few Virginia teams have ever done and that was to win 10 games. We had our opportunities and, frankly, we gave the thing away."
The Red Raiders, trailing 21-7 at the break, opened the third quarter by recovering an onsides kick at their own 41. Then, facing 4th-and-5 at the Virginia 41, Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach opted to go for it and the gutsy move paid off when Harrell completed a six-yard toss to Crabtree to maintain possession.
Harrell threw passes of five and 13 yards to place the ball at the 17 and, four plays later, he found Amendola wide open in the right corner of the end zone for a six-yard score.
In the early moments of the fourth quarter, Sewell suffered a left knee sprain and was replaced by Lalich. Lalich completed three passes on the drive, the last one an 11-yard touchdown to Simpson that gave the Cavaliers a 28-14 lead.
The ensuing Texas Tech drive, which featured two fourth-down conversions, stalled at the Virginia one when Harrell's pass on 4th-and-goal fell incomplete.
After the Cavaliers went three-and-out, Harrell quickly guided the team down the field and capped the nine-play drive with a 20-yard TD toss to Crabtree with 3:31 remaining.
Lalich fumbled the ball on the next series and Jake Ratliff recovered at the Virginia four, placing the Red Raiders in striking distance to tie the game.
One play later, Harrell handed off to Aaron Crawford, who ran right up the seam and knotted the score at 28 with 3:10 remaining in the fourth.
Sewell returned behind center on Virginia's next possession, but the Cavaliers, once again, went three-and-out and Texas Tech would go on to kick the game-winning field goal.
After Texas Tech and Virginia traded punts to begin the game, the Red Raiders applied a heavy dose of the spread formation to march down the field in 10 plays, culminating with Harrell's 10-yard TD pass to Detron Lewis with 9:35 remaining in the first.
Virginia answered back on the ensuing possession, confusing Texas Tech's defense with a variety of looks to orchestrate a 13-play, 67-yard drive that consumed close to five minutes of the clock. The Cavaliers tied the game at seven when Sewell threw a jump-pass to Jonathan Stupar for a two-yard score.
The Cavaliers went ahead 9-7 after Harrell was called for intentional grounding while in the end zone with 1:37 left in the opening frame. It was the first safety in the Gator Bowl since 1981.
In the second quarter, Jonathan LaCour's 44-yard punt pinned the Cavaliers at their own two. On 2nd-and-8 from the four, Simpson exploded through the line and raced 96 yards down the near sideline for the touchdown, extending Virginia's lead to 16-7 with 7:32 remaining.
The touchdown was the longest play in Gator Bowl history and the longest run in school history, breaking the previous mark of 88 set by Bob Davis in 1964.
Virginia's advantage reached 18-7 after Harrell's second intentional grounding infraction, and the Cavaliers went into halftime ahead 21-7 after Chris Gould kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired.
The 2008 Gator Bowl marked the first-ever meeting between the two schools...The Red Raiders have played in eight straight bowl games, winning five of their last six. Texas Tech's all-time record in bowl games now stands at 10-20-1...Virginia dropped to 7-10 in bowl games, including an 0-6 mark in bowls played in the state of Florida...Simpson suffered a neck stinger in the third quarter but did return...Texas Tech left tackle Rylan Reed was carted off following Crawford's touchdown with an apparent leg injury.
01/01 19:54:01 ET