Sure, it hurt that the Ducks had blown a Rose Bowl berth six weeks earlier. But Harrington bounced back by having a hand in four touchdowns one of them reminiscent of Steve Young as the No. 8 Ducks beat No. 12 Texas 35-30 on Friday night in another wild Holiday Bowl.
"We've dug deep all year long and we came out with another big one," said Harrington, who threw for two touchdowns, ran for one and caught a halfback pass for another.
The Ducks (10-2) finished the first 10-win season in their 105-year history.
After Harrington had six turnovers in a 23-13 loss at Oregon State on Nov. 18 that cost Oregon the Pacific-10 Conference's Rose Bowl berth, coach Mike Bellotti told him he had to bounce back.
"I thought he responded very well to the opportunity and the challenge," Bellotti said.
Still, it wasn't settled until a desperation pass by Texas sophomore Chris Simms fell incomplete in the end zone as time ran out.
Texas (9-3), which had hoped to vault into the Top 10 with a victory, saw its six-game winning streak end.
"It was a great game to watch," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "I'm sure one of these days I'll look back and enjoy it."
Harrington had three straight completions to set up the winning score, a 4-yard end-around by Jason Willis with 5:46 left.
Texas helped contribute to another wild Holiday Bowl finish, too, but in the wrong way. The Longhorns moved to the Ducks' 22 with about three minutes to play, but their two heralded freshmen wide receivers, B.J. Johnson and Roy Williams, each dropped a pass in the end zone. Johnson dropped another one at the 15 tat he might have scored on.
Brown commended Simms for his composure at the end.
"He threw a pass for a touchdown that was dropped, then he threw another one for a touchdown that we dropped, and it didn't faze him," Brown said.
"We really thought we had a chance to win at the end of the game."
The Longhorns got the ball back with 1:37 to play when De'Andre Lewis recovered a fumble on a botched handoff. But two plays later, Bauman capped a big game by the Ducks' defense with an interception at the 16.
It wasn't over yet, though. Oregon took a safety with 21 seconds left and the free kick went to the Texas 37. The Longhorns got to the Ducks' 39 before Simms' final pass. Simms, son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, finished with four interceptions.
Harrington personally gave the Ducks a 14-0 first quarter lead.
He froze the 'Horns with play-action and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Justin Peelle in the right corner of the end zone.
After Oregon's Jed Boice recovered a fumble by Johnson at the Texas 18, Harrington got to play receiver. He pitched the ball to wide receiver Keenan Howry, who had lined up in the backfield, then slipped out to the left flat. Howry threw across the field to Harrington, who caught it at the 10 and stumbled the rest of the way into the end zone.
Harrington said that play worked just once in five weeks of practice.
"Keenan made a great throw," Harrington said. "I lost it in the lights for a second. I thought I was going to make a fool of myself on national television but I came up and made a catch."
Harrington wasn't the first quarterback to catch a TD pass in the Holiday Bowl, though. Young caught a 14-yard halfback pass with 23 seconds left in the 1983 game to give Brigham Young a 21-17 win over Missouri.
Harrington completed 19 of 30 passes for 273 yards, with one interception. Simms was 17-of-33 for 245 yards and ran for one touchdown.
Texas' leading rusher, Hodges Mitchell, left with a sprained right knee early in the third quarter after being hit by Bauman and didn't return.
The Longhorns scored three times in the second quarter for a 21-14 lead. Mitchell and Simms scored on short runs and Greg Brown returned an interception 23 yards.
Oregon tied it on the first drive of the second half on a 55-yard pass from Harrington to running back Maurice Morris.
Morris caught a short pass and, following a block by guard Ryan Schmid, raced down the right sideline.
Harrington gave the Ducks a 28-21 lead on a 9-yard draw with 9:43 to play, capping a 90-yard drive set up when Keith Lewis intercepted Simms' pass.
That lead didn't last, though, as Victor Ike returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards, the Longhorns' first for a touchdown since 1978.
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