In a game where a whopping 100 points was scored, it was two defensive plays by a much-maligned Texas A&M defense that ultimately decided the outcome. With A&M trailing 48-45 with 3:33 to go in the game, senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. stepped in front of an Anthony Boone pass and returned it 55 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
The Duke offense that A&M hadn’t been able to contain all night regained possession with the chance to regain the lead, but after driving to the A&M 38-yard line, Boone was intercepted again, this time by Nate Askew, sealing a thrilling 52-48 victory.
The game was a tale of two halves, and the first half belonged to the Duke offense. With Johnny Manziel and the Aggies offense looking sluggish and struggling to sustain drives, the Blue Devils stormed out of the gates, quickly jumping out to a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter on a touchdown pass from Boone-to-Josh Snead and a Brandon Connette 3-yard touchdown run.
A blocked punt followed another stalled Aggies drive and Anthony Boone scored on an 11-yard run just three plays later to put the Blue Devils up 21-3.
Neither defense could make a stop in the second quarter with the teams trading touchdowns on the following four possessions to make the score 35-17 Duke. The Blue Devils weren’t done there, though. David Cutcliffe reached into his bag of tricks and called for a successful onside kick with 2:31 left in the half. The risk paid off and set up an 18-yard Ross Martin field goal to put the Blue Devils up 38-17 at the half.
Things weren’t looking good for the Aggies heading into the second half, but the Texas A&M defense forced a few stops and Manziel, like he had done so many times before, put the offense on his back.
Early in the third, Manziel made a ridiculous play, hopping over a defender and escaping the rush to find Travis Labhart for his third touchdown reception of the game, lessening the deficit to 38-24. Following a Duke missed field goal on the ensuing possession, Manziel led the offense down the field again, setting up a 21-yard touchdown run by Tra Carson to get within seven points.
A Duke field goal and a Manziel touchdown run followed before Duke’s lead ballooned back to 48-38 with 6:46 to go on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Boone to David Reeves in which Reeves tiptoed down the sideline, narrowly avoiding stepping out of bounds for the score.
Manziel again responded, needing just 1:02 to score again, this time on a 44-yard strike to Derel Walker to get the Aggies within three. That score set the Aggies defense up with a chance to get the ball back, but they went beyond that when Hurd Jr. picked off Boone for the go-ahead and game-winning score.
The late game mistakes took away from what was a great performance from Boone. The junior threw for a whopping 427 yards, while running back Josh Snead ran for 104 yards and receiver Jamison Crowder tallied 12 catches for 163 yards.
Make no mistake, however; it was Manziel’s show. In what is considered by many to be his last game in a Texas A&M uniform, Johnny Football completed 30-of-38 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns while also accumulating 73 yards and a score on the ground.
If this indeed was Manziel’s final collegiate performance, he certainly put on a performance to remember.
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