Christensens kick an instant classic

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(13) ALABAMA 13, (18) TEXAS TECH 10
DALLAS -- Jamie Christensen again came through in
the clutch.
Christensen hooked a 45-yard field goal inside the left upright
as time expired, lifting No. 13 Alabama to a 13-10 victory over
No. 18 Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
Senior quarterback Brodie Croyle directed the game-winning
drive, keeping alive the march with a 17-yard completion to Matt
Miller on a 3rd-and-6 play. He then found Keith Brown down the
right sideline for 23 yards to the Texas Tech 31 with under a
minute remaining.
Despite Christensen missing a 39-yard field goal and having a
38-yarder blocked in the second quarter, coach Mike Shula had
enough confidence in his sophomore kicker by playing for a field
Christensen, who beat Mississippi and Tennessee earlier this
season with field goals in the final seconds, came through again
with a kick that wobbled over the crossbar, giving the Crimson
Tide (10-2) the victory.
"Actually, I didn't know if it was going to be good,"
Christensen said. "I didn't know until I saw the referee's hands
go up. But what happened was I just kicked a little bit of the
ground so I just didn't get the height on it I wanted to. But
I'm just glad it went in."
After his team took over deep in its territory with under three
minutes left, Shula knew he wanted to go for the win.
"I didn't really say anything to the players, but we weren't
going into overtime," Shula said. "We didn't want to do that."
It marked the first time in the 70-year history of the Cotton
Bowl that the outcome was decided on a field goal as time
expired. In 1979, the game was decided on the final play when
Joe Montana threw a touchdown pass to give Notre Dame a 35-34
victory over Houston.
Alabama won its 30th bowl game, extending its own NCAA record.
Cody Hodges had pulled the Red Raiders (9-3) into a 10-10 tie
with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Hicks with 2:56
Croyle opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 76-yard
touchdown pass to Brown, who caught a screen pass in the left
flat and raced untouched to the end zone.
Croyle completed 19-of-31 passes for 275 yards without a
turnover. His favorite target was Brown, who had five
receptions for 141 yards.
For virtually the entire way, the Crimson Tide shut down the Red
Raiders' high-octane passing game that entered as the nation's
top attack at 403.6 yards per game. The speedy defense, which
entered allowing a nation-best 10.7 points per game, held the
Red Raiders to a season-low 226 passing yards.
"We knew we going to play a lot of man, throw a lot of different
calls at them," Alabama free safety Roman Harper said. "We
played fast and we couldn't get the quarterback down a lot of
times, but he's a pretty athletic guy, but overall we had a
great scheme and went out there and executed."
"They're a good team and they created a lot of our problems,"
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "I thought we missed some
opportunities where we could have played a little sharper
earlier in the game, especially the first half."
With its defense doing its job, Alabama controlled the ball for
nearly 40 minutes.
"We didn't score as much touchdowns as we obviously wanted to,
but what can you say about our defense?" Croyle said. "They're
awesome. They have been a pleasure to play with."
In the fourth quarter, Hodges also briefly left following one of
the big hits he took on one of his season-high 17 rushes. He
returned with 3:21 left to direct the tying drive.
Hodges completed 15-of-32 passes for 196 yards while adding 65
yards on the ground.
"We missed some opportunities, but I mean that's Alabama, a
great defense," Hodges said. "We knew that was going to be the
case. We just didn't make the plays when we had to."
Tech's Alex Trlica kicked a 34-yard field goal in the second