Horns of plenty: VY, Texas deny USC three-peat bid

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Vince Young bounced on his toes, trying to buy himself some time and searching frantically for a way to win a championship.

And then he took off.

With the national title down to a final play, fourth down and 5 yards to go, Young scrambled untouched for an 8-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left and the No. 2 Longhorns stunned No. 1 Southern California 41-38 in the Rose Bowl on Wednesday night.

"Do whatever it takes," Young said.

He did it all -- and made sure that Texas was second no more to USC and its Heisman Trophy twins, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.

It was the ultimate revenge for Young, the bitterly disappointed runner-up to Bush for the Heisman Trophy last month.

At the Heisman presentation, Young had a blank stare and reluctantly clapped after he lost in a landslide to Bush. After winning the biggest team prize of all, he beamed with a satisfied smile, hugging anyone he could find.

On a night when he ran for 200 yards and passed for 267 more, Young capped a performance that Texas fans will remember forever by scoring his third TD and running for a two-point conversion to end Southern California's 34-game winning streak and deny the Trojans an unprecedented third straight national championship.

"It's so beautiful," Young said as he received the MVP crystal. "Don't you think that's beautiful? It's coming home all the way to Austin, Texas."

The Longhorns were a unanimous No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25 and won the Bowl Championship Series title with the victory in the Rose Bowl.

"This is what it's all about, 41-38 in the final game," said Leinart, the Trojans quarterback and Heisman winner a year ago. "You couldn't ask for anything better. This was a great football game. We gave our hearts, they gave their hearts and they came out on top."

The Longhorns (13-0) won their 20th in a row. USC (12-1) lost for the first time since a triple-overtime defeat to California on Sept. 27, 2003. Its 34-game winning streak is tied for fourth all-time, behind Oklahoma's 47-game streak from 1953-57.

"Well, we couldn't stop them when we had to," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "The quarterback ran all over the place.

"This is their night," he said. "It's wonderful doing what we've been doing. We didn't get it done."

After the trophy presentation, Young draped his arms around two teammates' shoulders and the three of them sang "We are the champions."

Later, he ran into Leinart and Bush as the USC players walked past the Texas locker room and greeted each with a hug.

Texas coach Mack Brown took Bush aside near the entrance to the locker room and told him, "I thought it was a classy game. Nobody could stop anybody."

When the game was over, Texas players streamed onto the field with the Longhorns' first national title since 1970. Young stood on the sideline in a sea of falling confetti, arm raised toward the crowd, and senior tackle William Winston unfurled a big, white Longhorns flag.

While the Longhorns' band blared "The Eyes of Texas" in front of a sea of burnt orange, the USC players looked startled. Some put their hands to their heads, while others dejectedly took off their helmets.

Said Leinart: "I still think we're a better football team. They just made the plays in the end."

Leinart did his part in his final college game while Bush was less than his best. Leinart passed for 365 yards, and his 22-yard TD strike to Dwyane Jarrett put USC ahead 38-26 with 6:42 left.

Earlier, Bush soared into the end zone on a 26-yard run, part of his 82 yards rushing. He also had 95 yards on six catches -- and a boneheaded lateral that swung momentum Texas' way in the first half.

"It's been a great run. We've done some special things," Bush said. "I don't think we should be ashamed about anything."

In a game that produced more than 1,100 yards, a defensive stand was key for Texas.

On fourth-and-2 from USC'S 45-yard line with 2:09 left, Carroll gambled. He decided to try to seal the game with his vaunted offense, dubbed by many the best ever in college football, and keep the ball out of Young's hands.

"We knew if we got that fourth-and-2, that was going to be the ballgame," All-America defensive tackle Rod Wright said.

But when LenDale White came up inches short, Wright and other Texas defenders jumped in the air and charged off the field as Young trotted on.

"If you make that first down, you're squatting on the football to win the game," Carroll said. "We just missed it. By what -- two inches?"

Young stood in the pocket and passed the Longhorns to a first-and-10 at the 13. After a 5-yard scramble, he misfired on two passes to set up fourth-and-5 at the 8.

The Trojans brought pressure, as they did all night, but Young slid away from it and looked for a receiver. Instead, he found a lane and raced to the right pylon.

"I went through all my progressions, so I just took off with it," Young said.

The Longhorns erupted. One pounded the turf as he lay face down on the turf, while the shocked Trojans futilely looked toward officials, hoping they'd say Young stepped out of bounds.

USC had one last chance, and it wasn't a good one. On the last play of the game from just beyond midfield, Leinart's pass sailed high over Jarrett's head around the 25.

With two of the most storied programs in college football, teams seemingly destined to decide the national title this season, the Rose Bowl was dripping with pageantry and tradition. Tommy Trojan atop Traveler galloped along the USC sideline. Meanwhile, big ol' Bevo, the Longhorns' beloved steer, guarded the Texas tunnel.

The Trojans think of the Rose Bowl as their home away from home -- no team has won the "Granddaddy of Them All" more often. But a Texas-sized contingent of Longhorns fans turned half the hallowed stadium burnt orange and was loud enough to force USC into at least one penalty for delay of game.

Texas led 16-10 at halftime, but being behind after two quarters was nothing new to the Trojans. Four times this season they trailed after 30 minutes and regained control in the third quarter.

And that's what they did again, forcing a punt by Texas and driving 62 yards on seven plays with White finishing with a 4-yard run that made it 17-16 USC.

Young, back at the site of his breakout performance last year against Michigan, responded with a 14-yard touchdown run, reaching a long arm toward the pylon to make it 23-17.

On fourth-and-1 from the Texas 12, White burst through the line for a touchdown, his third of the game that made it 24-23.

On the second play of the second quarter, Bush bolted down the middle for 37 yards with a screen pass but inexplicably pitched the ball sideways to unprepared teammate Brad Walker. Texas All-America defensive back Michael Huff fell on the loose ball, and Bush came off the field with his hands on his helmet, shaking his head, looking as baffled as anyone by what he had just done.

Texas turned the break into its first points, with Young passing and running into USC territory and David Pino booting a 46-yard field.

When Young went no-huddle, he found tight end David Thomas a couple times and showed Bush how to pull off a late pitch.

Young went 10 yards on an option keeper and just before his knee touched turf -- or so it seemed -- chucked the ball to Selvin Young, who took it the final 12 yards for a score and Texas' first lead, 9-7.

Replays appeared to show the quarterback's knee hitting the ground before he let go of the ball, but with Carroll standing way out on the playing field, officials never stopped play for a review.

Less than 2:30 later, Texas was on the board again as Ramonce Taylor, known as Bush Lite around Austin, ran 30 yards to make it 16-7.