COTTON BOWL: TEXAS 35, LSU 20

Williams, Texas load up on LSU


Texas' Roy Williams scores a touchdown late in the second quarter against Louisiana State in the Cotton Bowl Wednesday in Dallas. Williams was named Offensive MVP. With Texas down by 10 points early, the comeback plan was simple: Get the ball to Williams. He turned a short slant into a 51-yard touchdown, went 75 yards after a leaping grab to set up another score and snaked 39 yards for a TD on an end around _ a performance that rallied No. 9 Texas past LSU 35-20.

(AP Photo/The Daily Texan, Alex Jones)
Published: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 2:40 a.m.
DALLAS - Roy Williams announced he was coming back for his senior season at Texas several weeks before the Cotton Bowl because he didn't want that question to distract him from the game.
NFL teams might hope he rethinks his decision.
Williams almost single-handedly rallied Texas from a 10-point deficit Wednesday, sending the No. 9 Longhorns to a 35-20 victory over LSU. He turned a short slant into a 51-yard touchdown, went 75 yards after a leaping grab to set up another score and snaked 39 yards for a TD on an end around.
``He might be the best football player I've seen all year,'' Tigers coach Nick Saban said.
After receiving a huge trophy as offensive MVP, Williams said he didn't deserve it - and didn't object when teammate Rod Babers slid it away. Williams then criticized himself for a false start and said he could do a better job of running routes.
``I don't feel like I'm the best receiver in the country,'' Williams said. ``I don't think I've done what I'm capable of. I still have things to prove, things to learn, before I go to the next level.''
LSU (8-5) would probably disagree. The Tigers came in with the second-best pass defense in the country, allowing 143 yards per game - and Williams alone had 142 on four catches.
A strong start by the Tigers had put the Longhorns (11-2) down 17-7 three minutes into the second quarter.
The Texas offense had gone nowhere on two possessions despite having all its top skill players healthy for the first time since the second game of the season. The Longhorns' first score came on a 46-yard fumble return by linebacker Lee Jackson, the longest in Cotton Bowl history.
Then Texas unveiled its most effective plan: getting the ball to Williams.
On first down from the 49, he shook cornerback Corey Webster at the line, caught a bullet pass from Chris Simms in stride and ran away to an easy score.
The next time Simms threw to Williams, he made a nice catch in traffic and raced toward the end zone, but was shoved out of bounds at the 5-yard line. Cedric Benson did the rest, putting Texas ahead 21-17.
After a sluggish start to the second half, Williams got Texas going with an 18-yard catch, then Benson ran for 17 yards. On the next play, Simms faked a handoff to Benson and slipped the ball to Williams coming from the left side. He weaved between defenders and avoided being hit until the 5; it couldn't stop him from lunging across the goal line.

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