|Date of game: 12/31/2013
Recap: Texas A&M vs. Duke
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Johnny Manziel might have played his last game at Texas A&M, but he made it a thriller as the 20th-ranked Aggies took a 52-48 win over No. 22 Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Trailing by 21 points to start the second half, Manziel guided Texas A&M on four touchdown drives after the break before Toney Hurd gave the Aggies their only lead of the game with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:33 to play.
Texas A&M's defense then sealed the victory with another interception of Anthony Boone with 1:19 remaining.
While it's not known if he will declare for the NFL Draft, Manziel is eligible to enter it and will make his decision known after finishing his 2013 season on a very positive note.
Manziel went 30-for-38 for 382 yards and four touchdown passes, adding 11 carries for 73 yards and another score for the Aggies (9-4), who came into the game having dropped their final two games of the regular season.
"All night I just knew to not quit and that's what I kept stressing to everybody, don't look at the scoreboard and play like it's 0-0," said Manziel. "We've worked hard all year and we didn't stop."
Travis Labhart caught three of Manziel's scoring passes and finished the game with seven catches for 76 yards.
Boone was 29-for-45 for 427 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions, also adding a score on the ground for the Blue Devils (10-4), who closed the season with two straight losses after getting crushed by Florida State in the ACC Championship.
"The most difficult part of the game for me was to tell our seniors goodbye," said Duke head coach David Cutliffe. "They played their hearts out there today. We were able to move the ball, but we turned the ball over and they didn't, and that wound up being the story."
Trailing by 10 points to start the fourth quarter, Texas A&M made it a 41-38 game when Manziel capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive by taking the ball in himself around the left side on a 3-yard score.
Boone then guided Duke on a 14-play, 75-yard march to again make it a 10-point game, as he tossed a pass out to the right for David Reeves, who spun off one tackler and just stayed in bounds, stretching the ball over the goalline as he was knocked out of bounds for a 21-yard score with 6:46 to play.
It took all of three plays for Manziel and the Aggies to again make it a three-point game, as he threw a deep pass down the left sideline and Derel Walker took it in on a 44-yard score with 5:44 to play.
The defense then gave the Aggies the lead as Hurd stepped in front of a Boone pass, grabbed it away from the receiver and went the other way for a 55-yard score and a 52-48 game with 3:33 to play.
Boone had plenty of time to work with and got the team to the Texas A&M 38, but Askew picked off the ball and the Aggies ran out the clock for the win.
"We had a bit of a discussion at halftime about doing your job and not trying to take everything in one jump," said Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. "As a coach two of the compliments you can get is if your team plays hard and doesn't quit, and these guys did both of that tonight."
Texas A&M drove down to the Duke 23 on the initial touch of the game, but an unsportsmanlike conduct and false start call forced the team to try a 55-yard field goal, which Josh Lambo missed to give Duke the ball back at its own 37.
A 16-yard run from Boone and 25-yard catch by Jamison Crowder got the ball to the 11, and Duke took a 7-0 lead when Josh Snead caught a toss to the left and took it into the end zone for an 11-yard score with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
Texas A&M countered with a 45-yard field goal from Lambo to get on the board with 5:31 to play in the first quarter, but Boone found Braxton Deaver for completions of 32 and 37 yards down to the Texas A&M 3, and Brandon Connette took it in on a quarterback keep around the left end for a 14-3 advantage with 4:12 left in the first.
The Blue Devils' special teams then came up with a big play, blocking a punt and recovering the ball at the Texas A&M 24. On the second play of the second quarter, Boone was able to stretch the ball in on an 11-yard score for a 21-3 lead.
Texas A&M got back on track on its next touch, needing just four plays to go 75 yards with Manziel finding a wide open Labhart down the left side for a 23- yard score and a 21-10 game.
Duke came right back with another score, as Boone found Crowder down the right sideline and he caught it in-stride for a 59-yard score and a 28-10 lead with 11:49 left in the half.
Manziel answered with a 13-play, 75-yard match, hitting a wide open Labhart at the goalline for a 9-yard score on 4th down to make it a 28-17 game with 6:45 until halftime.
The Blue Devils countered with a long drive of their own, going 75 yards in 11 plays and Snead taking it between blocks at the line for a 25-yard score. The Blue Devils then recovered an onsides kick attempt, leading to an 18-yard field goal from Ross Martin as time expired to take a 38-17 lead into the break.
Duke began the third quarter with the ball, but Texas A&M stopped them for the first time and got the ball back at its own 36.
Showing his athletic brilliance on a 2nd-and-7 at the Duke 19, Manziel stepped up to avoid a rush and leaped over a defender. Stepping back, he tossed the ball to his left and Labhart took the ball in on a 19-yard score for a 38-24 game.
Martin missed a 48-yard field goal well to the left on the Blue Devils' next touch, and the Aggies countered with a 21-yard score from Tra Carson to make it a 38-31 game with 5:05 to play in the third.
Duke's next possession saw the team get a 20-yard field goal from Martin to take a 41-31 lead into the fourth quarter.Game Notes
Texas A&M won its third straight bowl game and improved to 16-19 in bowl games
... Duke has dropped four straight bowl games and fell to 3-7 ... This was the
first meeting between these two schools ... Duke had 661 yards and controlled
the ball for just over 35 minutes, while Texas A&M totaled 541 ... Snead
finished the game with 104 yards on 17 carries ... Walker totaled six catches
for 113 yards.