A Colt hero in Texas

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SAN DIEGO -- Colt McCoy looked up, breathed a sigh of relief through his mouthpiece and raised his arms in the air.

He could do no wrong on this night.

Even a fumble in the end zone would turn into a touchdown for the sophomore quarterback who finally got a taste of some luck.

"Things finally went our way tonight," said McCoy. "That hasn't happened this year. We've had to work for everything. Nothing has come easy for us but tonight things finally clicked for us."

Things certainly clicked for McCoy, who turned the Holiday Bowl into his own personal highlight reel. He accounted for 258 total yards and two touchdowns and looked eerily similar to a certain Heisman-winning sophomore signal caller on the opposite coast.

McCoy zigzagged around Qualcomm Stadium all night, like a child racing around an obstacle course, with the Arizona State players serving as his helpless tackling dummies.

Unfortunately for the Sun Devils defense, not much tackling occurred during Texas' 52-34 win at the Holiday Bowl.

The final game of McCoy's sophomore season was the crescendo he was looking for heading into next year. It's been a season of extreme highs and lows for McCoy, who led Texas to its fourth consecutive bowl win but certainly not the bowl he had envisioned in the spring.

"The season was long and it was disappointing in the end," said McCoy. "But everything we're going to take from this season comes from tonight. We're going to be explosive on offense next year."

McCoy's confidence stems from the fact that 10 offensive starters will be returning next year, including his entire offensive line. After struggling in losses to Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas A&M last season, that continuity will only help McCoy development.

"When you're following Chris Simms, Major Applewhite, it's a load but he's ahead of all those quarterbacks at the same age," said Mack Brown. "All Colt wants to do is win."

McCoy had extra incentive to win as he and the his teammates promised tailback Jamaal Charles, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, that they'd win the game for him as their present.

Before the game, Brown asked Charles to come in front of the team and asked him one question.

"What do you want for your birthday," asked Brown, his arm around Charles.

"A win," replied Charles, as the team erupted.

McCoy made sure Charles would play a part in his birthday present as he rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in what could be his final game as a Longhorn.

"I'm just glad we came out here and won the game for my birthday," Charles said a couple times when asked if he would be entering the NFL.

Even if Charles leaves school early, Texas fans got a glimpse of what they can expect to see next season with McCoy, who paraded his whale-shaped MVP trophy to Texas fans after the game.

"We're going to keep this rolling," said McCoy. "This is just the beginning."

The only thing that nearly stopped McCoy on this night was a Texas equipment cart that nearly hit him as he walked back to the locker room after the game. After the mortified student manager apologized to him, McCoy smiled and comforted him with a phrase he'll no doubt here heading into next season.

"It's your world," he said. "I'm just living in it, baby."