Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWLS PAGE
(Sports Network) - Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards and a touchdown, as Texas A&M survived a late Northwestern charge to win Saturday's Meineke Car Care Bowl, 33-22.
Trailing 30-7, Northwestern scored 15 straight points to make it a one- possession game with 5:22 remaining. But Tannehill and the Aggies (7-6) answered with a lengthy drive, converting a pair of 3rd-and-longs and burning nearly five minutes of clock before Randy Bullock nailed a 31-yard field goal to seal the victory.
Dan Persa threw for 213 yards and Kain Colter ran for 75 yards and a score and added a touchdown pass for the Wildcats (6-7), who were seeking their first bowl win in 63 years.
Texas A&M, meanwhile, captured its first bowl victory since 2001, capping a tumultuous season which featured the firing of head coach Mike Sherman and the lingering anticipation of a move to the SEC.
The Aggies led 20-7 at the half and extended their advantage with Ben Malena's 19-yard touchdown run and Bullock's 47-yarder in the third. But they faltered in the fourth, threatening to continue a year-long trend of second-half collapses.
This season, A&M blew double-digit leads to Arkansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas. Tannehill's interception -- by Brian Peters -- on the second play of the fourth hinted at a looming collapse, as Colter plunged across the goal line minutes later and a successful two-point conversion made it 30-15.
The Wildcats did not recover the ensuing onsides kick, but did force an Aggies three-and-out. They then marched 80 yards to paydirt. Persa converted a 4th- and-1 during the drive before Colter found Tim Riley on a 3rd-and-goal rollout to cut the deficit to 30-22.
But the Aggies closed strong. After a false start on 3rd-and-8, Tannehill found Uzoma Nwachukwu for 21 yards. Later in the drive, he converted a 3rd- and-6 with a sideline pass to Jeff Fuller. Bullock's game-sealing field goal split the uprights with 30 seconds remaining.
Bullock also had a 24-yarder in the first quarter, putting A&M on top until Venric Mark's two-yard TD run made it 7-3 early in the second.
The Aggies responded with 17 straight points. Ryan Swope's 37-yard, rumbling reception set up Malena's short TD plunge, Fuller hauled in a 26-yard scoring pass and Bullock tacked on a 40-yarder seconds before the break.