Farewell, Johnny. It was wonderful while it lasted.
The 2013 Chick-Fil-A bowl will long be remembered as Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s final game in college. Years from now, few will remember the details of the Texas A&M comeback to beat an upstart Duke team that played nearly three quarters of flawless football before finally relenting, 52-48, on New Year Eve.
Perhaps even fewer will recall that the key play in the game was turned by the very same A&M defense that allowed Duke to move at will up and down the field all game long.
Never mind all that. For now, breathe in the wonder of Manziel, who threw for 382 yards on 30 of 38 passing, while rushing for another 73 yards and one touchdown. That’s 455 yards of offense and five total touchdowns for those keeping score at home.
It almost wasn’t enough.
Duke scored on its first six possessions and jumped out to a 38-17 halftime lead (the score was 28-3 at one point). Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone was phenomenal, throwing for 427 yards on 29 of 43 passing. He was 11 for 11 on third down alone, keeping drives alive time after time. But it wasn’t quite enough.
This was no game for defenses. A combined 1,203 yards and 100 points was belched forth by both offensive attacks.
And yet Tony Hurd’s 55-yard pick six of a Boone pass in the fourth quarter ended up being the difference. Such is college football.
A&M closes the season at 9-4, while Duke finishes its dream season at 10-4.
“I can’t even think about anything other than this game right now,” Manziel said afterward, in response to a reporter who asked whether he would now turn pro. “It’s unreal. I love Texas A&M. I love my teammates. I love ‘em more than anything on the face of this earth.”
Enough to come back for another year? Stay tuned.