Texas A&M 52, Duke 48
ATLANTA -- If this was it for Johnny Manziel, he went out in style. And college football certainly will miss one of the most polarizing players to come along in years.
Manziel put on a show in what most believe will his final college game, rallying No. 21 Texas A&M to a 52-48 win over No. 24 Duke in a thrilling Chick-fil-A Bowl on Tuesday at the Georgia Dome.
Toney Hurd Jr.'s 55-yard interception return for a touchdown gave A&M its first lead with 3:33 left in the fourth quarter.
Manziel threw four touchdown passes, rushed for a score and added to his lengthy career highlight reel with a remarkable play that jumpstarted the Aggies' comeback.
On A&M's first possession of the second half, with Duke leading 38-17, Manziel took off up the middle, jumped into the air and bounced off a defender before rolling to his left and finding wide-open wide receiver Travis Labhart for a 19-yard touchdown. Labhart caught three touchdown passes on the night.
Manziel ran in from 3 yards out to cut Duke's lead to 41-38 early in the fourth quarter.
Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone answered by leading a 14-play, 75-yard drive, capped by his third touchdown pass of the game, a 21-yarder to tight end David Reeves that put Duke up by 10 with 6:48 to play.
Manziel responded with his fourth touchdown pass, tying a Chick-fil-A Bowl record with a 44-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Derel Walker (six catches, 113 yards).
The redshirt sophomore quarterback finished 30 of 38 with 382 yards, and he added 73 yards on 11 carries.
His collegiate legacy cemented, Manziel now faces a decision about his future. Most believe he is headed for the NFL and will be a first-round pick in the draft, along with teammates, offensive tackle Jake Matthews and wide receiver Mike Evans.
Boone completed 29 of 45 passes for 427 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for a score. Running back Josh Snead had rushing and receiving touchdowns for the Blue Devils, who nearly earned their first bowl win since 1961. Snead gained 104 yards on 17 carries, and he blocked a punt.
Very little went right for the Aggies (9-4) in the first half. At one point in the first quarter, a frustrated Manziel stormed off the field, slammed his helmet on the ground and then isolated himself from his teammates down the sideline.
Meanwhile, Duke (10-4) was doing everything right. The Blue Devils blocked a punt, recovered an onside kick and answered every A&M challenge before halftime. Both quarterbacks, Boone and Brandon Connette, ran for touchdowns. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Boone, helping Duke take a 21-point into halftime.
With Duke trailing for the first time in the final minutes, Boone led the Blue Devils into A&M territory, but he was picked off by Nate Askew with 1:19 to play.
NOTES: Duke WR Jamison Crowder's 59-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his 100th catch of the season. He is the first ACC player to catch at least 100 passes in a season. ...The Chick-fil-A Bowl is one of six bowls selected to participate in the new college football playoff. The bowl will host a national semifinal game four times over the next 12 years. ... A&M coach Kevin Sumlin declined requests to interview for NFL head coaching jobs, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Tuesday. ... The game marked the first meeting between Duke and Texas A&M, two schools with a combined 220 years of football. ... With 16 consecutive sellouts, the Chick-fil-A Bowl has the second-longest sellout streak in the nation. However, plenty of seats were available in the Georgia Dome. ... Duke played the 1,000th football game in school history.
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