Williams leads 'Horns' rout of Miss. St. in Cotton Bowl
Posted: Saturday January 09, 1999 05:21 PM
DALLAS (CNN/SI) -- Cotton Bowl officials knew what they were doing when they opted for Texas over Kansas State for their bowl.
The Longhorns had Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, now a local legend after an amazing season, including a huge day in their building early in the season against Oklahoma.
What a more fitting place to end his career than in the home field of his idol Doak Walker.
Williams rushed 30 times for 203 yards and scored two touchdowns as the No. 20 Texas Longhorns beat No. 25 Mississippi State 38-11. He punctuated his performance by finally striking the Heisman pose.
The NCAA's career rushing leader got some running room after redshirt freshman quarterback Major Applewhite burned the blitzing Bulldogs for three touchdown passes in Texas' first Cotton Bowl victory since 1982.
Heisman winner Williams, who thrived in the foggy, rainy conditions before a sellout 72,611 fans, scored on a 37-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Upon reaching the end zone, he froze into the famous stiff-armed pose seen atop the Heisman trophy.
"It was something the guys were trying to get me to do all year but I wanted to win the Heisman first," Williams said. "We had a big lead and I knew the penalty wouldn't hurt us."
Williams scored again on a 2-yard third-period run against the tiring Mississippi State defense and finished with a school bowl-record rushing yardage. The Texas rushing record for a bowl game was 164 by Eddie Phillips against Notre Dame in 1971.
"State had a tough defense but we had a size advantage on them," Williams said. "The offensive line did a good job of handling the crazy blitzes and Major and Wane [McGarity] kept them honest with the passing game."
Williams, who set 16 NCAA records during his career, had 248 all-purpose yards. He caught five passes for 45 yards and his rushing total was the third-highest in Cotton Bowl history.
"It was a lot of fun for me to watch our offense and defense play like they did," Williams said. "I was glad I came back for my senior year."
The game was dedicated to the late Doak Walker and Williams noted "my first touchdown run was his old number, No. 37. That run was for him."
The Bulldogs hounded Williams' every step, but they were forced to pay for their blitzes by Applewhite, who hit two touchdown passes in the first half for a 14-3 lead.
Applewhite, noting the Bulldogs' jamming at the line of scrimmage, twice hit McGarity for touchdown passes on plays of 59 and 52 yards, victimizing cornerback Kendall Roberson both times.
McGarity capped off a 97-yard drive with his first touchdown reception in the first quarter as he slipped behind Roberson. In the second period, McGarity caught a short pass, shook off Roberson's tackle and sprinted the rest of the way for the score.
"Major did an outstanding job handling all the blitzes," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "He did threw the ball where it was supposed to be. He throws the deep ball well."
McGarity did his part. "We worked to perfection today," he said. "Major did a great job of getting some air under the ball."
"Nobody has covered McGarity one-on-one this year," Brown said.
Applewhite said he knew the Bulldogs would be blitzing on almost every down.
"We thought they would bring everything they had and if we picked it up we could do what we wanted to do," Applewhite said. "Ricky was amazing as usual."
Brown said it was a typical Williams performance.
"The rumor was he was fat," said Brown, "but I don't think he was out of shape at all. He looked pretty good to me."
Williams joked, "I came up here this morning hoping my pants would fit and they did."
MSU coach Jackie Sherrill said of Williams: "We knew we had to tackle well or it would be a long day. Applewhite also hurt us with some of his throws. He did a great job of throwing the deep ball."
Bulldogs linebacker Barrin Simpson said Williams lived up to his billing. "With a great back like Williams you can't make many mistakes," he said.
Mississippi State scored on a 39-yard field goal by Brian Hazelwood, who also had a 41-yard attempt blocked by Aaron Humphrey on the final play of the first half.
The Bulldogs lost their top receiver and kick returner, Kevin Prentiss, with an elbow injury in the first half and he never returned.
Texas scored 24 points in the third period. Williams scored twice and Applewhite hit Kwame Cavil with an 18-yard TD pass. Kris Stockton kicked a 47-yard field goal.
Applewhite completed 15 of 26 for 225 yards.
The Bulldogs scored in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard pass from Matt Wyatt to Lahitia Grant. James Johnson rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries for Mississippi State.
No. 25 Mississippi State (8-5) was playing in its first Cotton Bowl game. Sherrill had two previous Cotton Bowl winners at Texas A&M.
In its first year under Brown, No. 20 Texas (9-3) won the Cotton Bowl for the first time since beating Alabama 17 years ago.
Williams was named the offensive MVP and Texas linebacker Aaron Babino was the defensive MVP.
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