COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Colt McCoy threw four touchdown passes and dashed 65 yards for another score, and No. 3 Texas overcame a huge game by Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson to wrap up an undefeated regular season with a 49-39 win over the Aggies on Thursday night.
In a splendid all-around performance that could boost his Heisman Trophy chances, McCoy racked up 479 yards of total offense for the Longhorns (12-0, 8-0 Big 12), who have only next week's conference championship game against Nebraska standing between them and the BCS title game.
"We were fortunate to come out on top," McCoy said. "I'm so thankful to get a win."
For a while, it seemed as though Johnson would rally the Aggies (6-6, 3-5) to a gigantic upset, shattering McCoy's Heisman hopes and opening the door for TCU and Cincinnati to vault into the national championship picture.
Jeff Fuller caught three touchdown passes from Johnson, the last with 7:10 left to cut Texas' lead to 42-39. But Marquise Goodwin returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Longhorns could finally breathe easy after A&M's Randy Bullock missed a 23-yard field goal try with 3:05 remaining.
"It was tough. We expected that coming in," McCoy said.
The senior star completed 24 of 40 passes for 304 yards and ran for a career-high 175 yards on 18 carries. But Johnson was just as spectacular, going 26 of 33 for 342 yards with four TD passes against the Longhorns' third-ranked defense. He added 97 yards on 14 carries for an all-purpose total of 439 yards.
"He's a tremendous quarterback," McCoy said.
Following their Texas shootout, the two QBs embraced at midfield after the game – and Johnson's nationally televised showcase just might put him in the conversation for next year's Heisman.
McCoy is a favorite to win it this year and he put together a monster first half, completing 18 of 26 passes for 222 yards and three TDs. He also broke a 65-yard run up the middle early in the second quarter, the third-longest rush by a Texas quarterback.
McCoy had 111 yards rushing by that point, already a career high.
"The running game – I didn't really expect to do that tonight, but it was there," he said.
The Longhorns piled up 398 yards by halftime against the nation's 100th-ranked defense, but led only 28-21.
The Aggies took a surprising 7-0 lead on the third offensive play, a 70-yard pass from Johnson down the sideline to Fuller. It was the second-longest play from scrimmage against the Longhorns this season.
Early on, though, the Aggies' defense couldn't get close to McCoy even when they blitzed, and he tied it with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
The Longhorns' defense, meanwhile, had just as much trouble controlling the quick-footed Johnson, ranked 10th in the nation in total offense (293.9 yards per game) coming into the game.
Johnson threw a 36-yard pass to Ryan Tannehill, then found Fuller open for a 14-yard touchdown with 7:34 left in the first half. It was Johnson's 49th career TD pass, an A&M record.
Johnson's 14-yard TD pass to Howard Morrow tied it 21-all with 1:11 left in the half. The Longhorns hadn't given up 21 points in a game since a 34-24 win over Texas Tech on Sept. 19.
But the Aggies left just enough time for McCoy to answer again. He threw two passes to Shipley for big gains, then found James Kirkendoll for the go-ahead score with 5 seconds left before the break.
Tre Newton had a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, set up by a fumble by A&M running back Christine Michael.
Aggies defensive back Anthony Lewis and Texas defensive back Deon Beasley collided on the ensuing kickoff, and both players initially lay motionless. Lewis was helped off the field, but Beasley was put on a stretcher. He was moving one of his arms as he was taken off the field on a cart.
Johnson broke a 43-yard run, but Texas safety Earl Thomas picked him off in the end zone, his school-record eighth interception of the season.
Bullock's 31-yard field goal cut the deficit to 35-24, and the Aggies took over again at midfield after McCoy started to misfire. Michael spun off a Texas defender for a 16-yard touchdown with 13:38 left, and Johnson completed a pass to Tannehill for the 2-point conversion to make it 35-32.
McCoy missed on seven straight passes before hitting Kirkendoll on a hitch route. Freshman defensive back Steven Terrell couldn't make the tackle and Kirkendoll raced the final 40 yards for a touchdown with 12:04 left.
Just when it seemed as though the Longhorns had put A&M away, Johnson marched the Aggies down the field again. He found freshman Ryan Swope for a 27-yard gain, then lofted a 20-yard TD pass to Fuller with 7:10 left.
Goodwin returned the kickoff for a touchdown, the Longhorns' third kickoff return for a score this season.
The Longhorns were upset by Texas A&M in 2006 and '07, but they've won twice since Mike Sherman replaced Dennis Franchione as Aggies coach. Texas has won 12 of the last 14 meetings against its archrival.
This one, however, will go down as one of the most exciting in the 116-game series.