Posted: Thursday January 5, 2006 3:55AM; Updated: Thursday January 5, 2006 1:38PM
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By the time Jarrett shook off two Texas defenders and lunged backward across the goal line with 6:42 left, the 'Horns, once in control of the contest, were staring down the barrel of a 12-point deficit.
All the 'Horns needed, however, was one stop, one change of possession to hand the ball back to its fearless leader, the guy who's engineered comebacks from 35-7 and 28-9, who silenced Ohio Stadium in September, and seemingly owns Pasadena. And they would get it, down 38-33 with 2:09 remaining, after the Trojans went for it on fourth-and-2 and Thorpe Award winner Michael Huff finally stood up White.
Following a nine-yard pass over the middle to Brian Carter, a seven-yard scramble out of bounds and a 17-yard crossing route to Carter, Young and the 'Horns stood at USC's 13-yard line with 45 seconds remaining.
On first down, a fade-route pass to Limas Sweed in the end zone was off the mark. On second, Young took off but was stopped after five yards. After barely missing Sweed across the middle on third-and-5, the national championship was reduced to one final play. Everyone in the stadium knew what was coming, but that didn't necessarily mean the Trojans could stop it.
Young's first read was tight end David Thomas, but he was covered. So too were Texas' other two receivers. "I saw the defensive end give me the edge," said Young, "so I took off."
USC fans held their breath, but by then they had to know it was futile. "There was no way he would be denied that touchdown," said 'Horns tackle Jonathan Scott.
As Young crossed the goal line (and added a two-point conversion for good measure), he carried not only the ball but his ticket to immortality.
"He's one of the great players ever to play college football," said Texas coach Mack Brown, who, with the help of his once-in-a-career quarterback, was able to win a national title and silence his critics once and for all. "The performance Vince had in this game last year and the performance he had tonight separates him from a lot of people."
On this night, Young separated himself from everyone else on the field.