Aggies punish NU 28-21

By Andrew Strnad
Staff writer

NU SPLIT END Matt Davison leaps for a catch in the fourth quarter in the 28-21 loss to Texas A&M.; Davison caught 10 passes for a team-record 167 yards during the game.


Aggie offense ran away with NU's game

Gameday Notebook

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - A game that was dubbed a "maroon-out" for Texas A&M; fans proved to be lights out for Nebraska.

The fans dressed themselves in maroon T-shirts in an attempt to wash out the red and white that opponents have gotten used to.

It worked.

And for the first time in six seasons, No. 2 Nebraska lost a regular-season conference game, ending a streak of 40 consecutive wins with a 28-21 loss to the Aggies at Kyle Field before a crowd of 60,798 Saturday.

The Aggies (5-0 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12 Conference) pounded the ball at Nebraska, piling up 259 yards rushing on a defense that allowed an average 83 yards per game.

"There wasn't any secret, they just flat whipped us," Defensive Coordinator Charlie McBride said. "Any time you can run the ball like that, that tells you something: The defense isn't very good."

While the Huskers (5-1 and 1-1) struggled on the ground, NU's passing game gave them an opportunity to win the game. With two late touchdowns, NU had cut A&M;'s 28-7 lead to 28-21 with four minutes and seven seconds left to go in the game. But a Sedrick Curry interception preserved the victory for the Aggies.

JASON NATHO kisses his date, Rosanne Petricca, after an A&M; touchdown. As one cadet put it, "Out of all our traditions, this is the most popular. Because if the team scores, you score."


Quarterback Bobby Newcombe's pass was intended for senior split end Billy Haafke, but he ran the wrong route, and Curry stepped and picked off the toss near midfield, returning it to the NU 48-yard line before sliding to the ground.

"We had a couple of plays where there was some miscommunication, like the last play," Newcombe said. "Not all 11 players were on the same page."

To the Huskers' credit, after trailing by 21 with 9:19 left in the fourth quarter, they were able to score 14 points in drives that took a total of 2:40 off the clock combined.

"They did a tremendous job of putting us in a situation to win the game at the end," Coach Frank Solich said. "But A&M; deserves a lot of credit."

Texas A&M; earned the credit early in the game with a punishing rushing attack that set the Aggies up for what A&M; Coach R.C. Slocum called the biggest win of his career.

The Aggies had two running backs with more than 100 yards as Dante Hall ran 32 times for 113 yards and freshman fullback Ja'Mar Toombs added 110 yards on 10 carries.

"We deserved to get beat; they just beat physically all game long," McBride said.

Texas A&M; struck first on its second drive of the game on an 81-yard pass from Randy McCown to Chris Taylor. The touchdown came on a third-and-25 play from the Aggies' 19-yard line. It was one of two passes he completed for the day.

Nebraska, which rushed for only 71 yards a week ago against Oklahoma State, had trouble moving the ball on the ground at the beginning of the game. NU had only 27 yards on its first five possessions before driving 48 yards in eight plays to tie the score at 7-7 on a Correll Buckhalter touchdown run.

Makovicka presses forward for Nebraska's final touchdown. NU scored 14 points in the fourth quarter but could not overcome Texas A&M.;


It took the Huskers more than 18 minutes to get a first down until Newcombe hit split end Matt Davison, who caught 10 passes for a team-record 167 yards, at the Aggie 31-yard line.

A&M; answered with another big play on Toombs' 71-yard run down to the NU 1-yard line. Hall scored to put A&M; up 14-7 going into halftime.

"I called for a blitz, and I was taking a chance with it," McBride said. "It was a dumb mistake on my part."

A&M;'s defense made the big play in the third quarter, sacking Newcombe on three straight plays, the third resulting in a Newcombe fumble that was recovered by linebacker Warrick Holdman in the end zone. It was 21-7 Aggies.

"I really don't what happened," NU center Josh Heskew said. "It was just real frustrating for us."

NU struck back, getting to the A&M; 10-yard line. On fourth down and two, Solich called a wingback reverse, but wingback Shevin Wiggins was stuffed by cornerback Jason Webster.

"We thought it was a good time; we thought it might get us into the end zone," Solich said.

The Aggies responded with 13-play, 86-yard touchdown drive to build a seemingly insurmountable 28-7 lead.

Again, Nebraska came back down the field, getting to A&M; 22-yard line. Another fourth down. Another stop by the Aggies, this time a break-up of a Newcombe pass to Davison. The Huskers were 0 for 3 on fourth down.

Nebraska did score 76- and 66-yard touchdown drives, largely thanks to Davison. The Huskers then were in position to get the ball back with 3:07 remaining.

FULLBACK JOEL MAKOVICKA and the rest of the Husker offense were manhandled much of the day by A&M;'s wrecking-crew defense. Nebraska had only 27 yards on its first four drives.


But A&M; got a pass interference call on a third-and-15 play when Ralph Brown was flagged for holding onto flanker Leroy Hodge. It was a late flag, coming five seconds after the play had ended. It gave A&M; an automatic first down.

"I didn't see any flag for a long period of time," Solich said. "I thought it was a clean play."

The Aggies milked another minute off the clock and forced NU to use up its timeouts before punting.

Newcombe, who completed 15 of 27 passes for 204 yards, moved the Huskers near midfield. A holding penalty set NU back to the 32-yard line. Three plays later, Newcombe was picked off.

It sealed an Aggie win and NU's first loss since Dec. 7, 1996, when Texas beat Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game.

"I'm not happy," Davison said. "It's pretty simple. I thought we were going to win. Honestly."

For the second straight game, the Huskers had problems sustaining the high levels of play the coaches and players have been accustomed to.

"I really don't understand what we're doing," Davison said. "We seem to be struggling, and that doesn't happen to Nebraska."

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