Rarely does a defensive lineman produce two key plays that are crucial in setting the tone and influencing the outcome of a game. Alabama's Marcell Dareus figured in two monumental moments in the BCS championship game.
1. Dareus' helmet hits into the shoulder of Colt McCoy to knock the Texas starting quarterback out of the game, with less than five minutes elapsed in the first quarter.
McCoy is the heart of Texas offense and the emotional leader for the team. After McCoy's exit, Texas seemed tentative not only on offense but also on defense.
2. Dareus, a 6'3" 280-pound sophomore, grabs a bouncing shuffle pass from backup quarterback Gilbert and ran it back 28 yards for a touchdown.
Texas was making a desperate effort to salvage the first half with less than a minute remaining. Mack Brown said the shuffle pass was low risk and would give the Longhorns a chance for a Hail Mary pass to end the half.
Instead, the safe play turned into a disaster. Texas had two good chances to tackle Dareus. One by true freshman quarterback Gilbert was particularly painful for Texas.
Gilbert had thrown the interception and had Dareus wrapped up. Dareus ran through the tackle and with a spin move eluded the last Longhorn with a chance to stop him.
3. Texas was on the way to scoring the first touchdown of the game. With first-and-goal from the one-yard line, Texas commits a five men in the backfield penalty.
The Longhorns crossed the goal line on the play, but the penalty negated the touchdown. Alabama's defense stiffened and held Texas to a field goal.
4. Texas recovers the kickoff after their field goal. A pooch kick is poorly covered by Alabama to let Texas get the ball.
But Alabama's defense holds up again, limiting Texas to a second field goal. Texas would not score again in the first half. The Big 12 champs end up with 91 total offensive yards at the half.
5. Alabama demonstrated a strong running game in the first half. Alabama started the game focusing on passing.
Texas responded well with three early sacks. Alabama shifted to their running attack led by Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.
Ingram ended up with 90 rushing yards in the first half. Trent Robinson chipped in 66 more yarding including a 49-yard sprint for a touchdown.
Alabama led at the half 24-6 and seemed in control of the game.
6. Texas makes a valiant comeback in the second half. Down 18 points to start the second half, the Longhorns score two touchdowns to cut the lead to three.
Texas gets the ball on their own seven with three minutes left needing only a field goal to tie.
One final defensive play is all the Crimson Tide needed to seal the game. And they get it from Anders who sacks Texas quarterback Gilbert from the blind side and the ball is fumbled.
Alabama recovers on the three yard line. Three plays later Ingram scores and the victory goes to Alabama 31-21.
Texas' brave second half effort showed they are a team with no quit. However, in the end, the two key plays from Alabama's Dareus were too big to overcome.
Imagine that, a defensive linemen being the star of a BCS national championship game.