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Manziel, Texas A&M beat Oklahoma 41-13 in Cotton

Posted: January 6, 2013 - 1:15am
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) reaches the end zone for a touchdown as Oklahoma's Frank Shannon (20) and others give chase in the first half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  LM Otero
LM Otero
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) reaches the end zone for a touchdown as Oklahoma's Frank Shannon (20) and others give chase in the first half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Johnny Manziel stretched out both of his arms and ran off the field as if he was flying.

With the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback known as Johnny Football, Texas A&M certainly is soaring in the SEC.

Manziel tiptoed the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown on the first drive of the Cotton Bowl, the first of his four touchdowns as part of his bowl-record 516 total yards and the Aggies capped their first SEC season with a 41-13 win over 12th-ranked Oklahoma on Friday night.

“To come in and go against a Big 12 rival and do everything we wanted as a team, and send these seniors out with a win, we couldn’t feel any better,” Manziel said after his first game since becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman.

With first-year coach Kevin Sumlin and their young star quarterback, the Aggies (11-2) broke the SEC record with their 7,261 total yards this season (the first over 7,000 after 633 in Cowboys Stadium). They also averaged more than 40 points a game.

And they capped their debut season with an overwhelming victory in the only postseason game matching teams from those power conferences. It is the Aggies’ first 11-win season since 1998, when they won their only Big 12 title.

The chants of “S-E-C!, S-E-C!” began after Manziel’s 33-yard TD pass to Ryan Swope with 4 minutes left in the third quarter for a 34-13 lead. They got louder and longer after that.

“I think tonight was really indicative of this season,” Sumlin said. “It’s one of the teams I thought in the country that truly got better every week.”

Texas A&M never trailed while winning its last six games. That included a win at SEC champion Alabama, which plays for the BCS national title Monday night.

Manziel set an FBS bowl record with his 229 yards rushing on 17 carries, and completed 22 of 34 passes for 287 yards.

“Johnny Manziel is everything he was billed to be, expected him to be,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who after the game shook the quarterback’s hand and told him “good job.”

SEC teams have won the last five Cotton Bowls, all against Big 12 teams, and nine out of 10. That included Texas A&M’s loss to LSU only two years ago.

Oklahoma, led by quarterback Landry Jones in his 50th career start, had 401 total yards.

Jones completed 35 of 48 passes for 278 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He won 39 games and three bowls for the Sooners, in a career that started on the same field in the 2009 season opener when he replaced injured Heisman winner Sam Bradford in the first college game at Cowboys Stadium.

Texas A&M led by only a point at halftime, but scored on its first three drives of the second half — on drives of 91 and 89 yards before Swope’s score on a fourth-and-5 play.

Oklahoma (10-3), which like the Aggies entered the game with a five-game winning streak, went three-and-out on its first three drives after halftime.

“In the first half, we played together as a team, limited them, used the clock, scored. That’s how you have to play them. In the second half it totally broke down offensively and defensively,” Stoops said. “We had guys plenty of times in position to make a play. Couldn’t make a play.”

Already with a 24-yard gain on an earlier third down on their opening drive, the Aggies had third-and-9 when Manziel rolled to his left and took off. When he juked around a defender and got near the sideline, he tiptoed to stay in bounds and punctuated his score with a high-step over the pylon for a quick lead.

Officials reviewed the touchdown play, but it was clear by the replay shown on the huge video screen above the Cowboys Stadium field that Manziel stayed in bounds.

“There is too much talk about how you perform after the Heisman and about the layoff and all of that,” said Manziel, who set an SEC record with 4,600 total yards in the regular season. “There wasn’t anything holding us back. No rust, there was no nothing. We played as a unit. ... To go out and win 11 games and do what we’ve done, is impressive.”

Manziel added a 5-yard TD on a bootleg play in the second quarter, and capped the scoring with a 34-yard pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu with 9 minutes left in the game.

The first TD run was Manziel’s school-record 20th of the season. He became only the fourth FBS quarterback with 20 TDs rushing and 20 passing in the same season.

The other 20-20 quarterbacks were Auburn’s Cam Newton and Florida’s Tim Tebow, who like Manziel are Heisman winners from the SEC, and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick.

Oklahoma needed drives of 16 and 18 plays to get a pair of field goals by Michael Hunnicutt (23 and 24 yards). Jones threw a 6-yard TD pass to Justin Brown just before halftime to make it 14-13.

Jones set Cotton Bowl records when he had 23 completions and 30 attempts (for 175 yards) by halftime.

Ben Malena (7 yards) and Trey Williams (30 yards) had the TD runs to cap the long scoring drives in the third quarter for the Aggies.

Manziel was picked off in the second quarter after his bootleg move and a throw that hit Malcome Kennedy in the hands in the end zone and deflected into the air. Javon Harris grabbed the interception.

The Sooners then crossed midfield before Jones had a pass intercepted by Dustin Harris and returned to the Oklahoma 48.

That A&M drive started with a little trickery, Manziel holding the ball down in his left hand while faking a throw with his right hand. He then pitched to Kenric McNeal, who threw a 20-yard pass to Mike Evans. Two plays later, Manziel had his bootleg TD run.

Oklahoma was in the Cotton Bowl for only the second time. It was the first bowl matchup between the former Big 12 rivals, but the 17th consecutive season they have played each other.

The Sooners had won 11 of 13 since Bob Stoops became their coach. That included a 77-0 Oklahoma win in 2003 that was the most-lopsided loss in Texas A&M history.

Sumlin was the A&M offensive coordinator in 2002 when the Aggies upset the top-ranked Sooners. The next year, Sumlin was hired by Stoops as an assistant, and he stayed there five seasons before going to Houston as head coach and then the Aggies.

“Words can’t describe how I feel,” said Damontre Moore, A&M’s leading tackler who has already said he will bypass his senior season for the NFL draft. “I’m just overwhelmed with excitement and joy, just to get such a big win, all the goals that we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season, to see them be accomplished.”

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