ATLANTA - If this was Johnny Manziel's final college game, it was everything his career has been: Unpredictable, volatile and so, so entertaining.


It also couldn't have been a sweeter good-bye.

If this was Johnny Manziel's final college game, it was everything his career has been: Unpredictable, volatile and so, so entertaining.

It also couldn't have been a sweeter good-bye.

After doing everything in his power to drag Texas A&M into the national spotlight the last two seasons, he might have saved the best for last on Tuesday, leading the Aggies to the biggest comeback in school history and a 52-48 Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over No. 21 Duke.

Trailing 38-17 at halftime, Manziel led the Aggies to four consecutive touchdown drives, then watched as Toney Hurd intercepted Duke quarterback Anthony Boone and ran it back for a 55-yard touchdown with 3:33 remaining to take the lead for the first time all night.

Duke converted a fourth down with 1:48 remaining to give themselves a chance, but the Aggies intercepted Boone again with 1:19 left, capping off a 9-4 season and a raucous celebration at the Georgia Dome.

Before the game, a throng of more than 50 photographers crowded in a corner of the end zone at the Georgia Dome to snap pictures of Manziel's warm-up, a testament to his star power and the overwhelming sense that he will declare for the NFL Draft in the coming days.

He delivered a performance worthy of that status, completing 30 of 38 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for another, overcoming a near-disastrous performance by the Texas A&M defense.

Duke, which had 661 yards of total offense, finished the year 10-4.

Though Texas A&M's defensive issues were well-established this season, Duke scored with stunning ease on its first three possessions of the game to take a 21-3 lead as Manziel struggled to get in sync with his receivers. The Blue Devils' third touchdown - an 11-yard run by Boone - came after Josh Snead blocked a punt cleanly, giving Duke possession on the 24-yard line.

It appeared those mistakes were going to leave Manziel too big a hole to climb out of, especially when Snead scored on a 25-yard touchdown run with 2:31 left in the first half for a 35-17 lead. Duke then surprised the Aggies with an onsides kick, recovering it and tacking on a field goal before going to the locker room.

But when Texas A&M's defense got consecutive stops to begin the second half, Manziel suddenly had an opening that he was all to eager to run through.

A classic Manziel play - running into a mess of bodies, hurdling a linebacker to avoid a sack, then backpedaling to get away from pressure - resulted in a 19-yard touchdown toss to Travis Labhart with 9:55 left in the quarter. Just 4:50 later, he pulled the Aggies within 38-31 on a six-play, 70-yard drive capped off by Tra Carson's 21-yard touchdown run.

Though Duke responded with a 20-yard field goal to stop the avalanche, it set the stage for Manziel's furious finish.

After Duke took a 48-38 lead, it took Manziel only three plays - a 20-yard out to Malcome Kennedy and a 44-yard touchdown throw to Derel Walker with 5:44 left - to bring the Aggies back within striking range.

Read or Share this story: