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Huskers Stunned In St. Louis
Texas 37
Nebraska 27

by Mark Fricke

(St. Louis, Missouri - December 7, 1996) - The Nebraska Cornhuskers had clawed their way back into the hunt for the national championship as they strolled into St. Louis for the first ever Big 12 Championship game against three touchdown underdog Texas.

A sellout crowd of over 63,100, most of them Husker fans, and a national television audience watched as the Longhorns pulled off one of the most unexpected upsets of the 1996 season.

Texas quarterback James Brown backed up his pre-game bravado by completing his first four passes of the game and marching the Longhorns 80 yards on their opening drive for a quick 7-0 Texas lead. Priest Holmes capped the drive with a five yard run. It took Nebraska most of the first quarter to get their offense moving. The Huskers finally tied the score 7-7 in the final minute of the period when DeAngelo Evans drove in from 2-yards out.

The second quarter saw both teams battle head to head. Texas regained the lead on their opening drive of the second with a 49 yard Phil Dawson field goal. The Huskers matched the score on their next drive when kicker Kris Brown booted a career long 51 yarder to tie the score at 10-10. Texas quickly pulled off a shocker on the third play of the next drive. Priest Holmes broke through the Nebraska defense and sprinted 61 yards for a touchdown and a 17-10 Longhorn advantage. Nebraska took their next drive 80 yards in 11 plays to score again. Evans rang up his second touchdown of the game on a powerful 23 yard run with 2:23 left in the half. Texas wasn't finished. however. With 1:00 left Dawson kicked a 30 yard field goal to send the Longhorns to the locker room at halftime with a 20-17 lead.

Texas added to their lead midway through the third period with Dawson's third field goal of the game, this time from 47 yards out to make the score 23-17. Nebraska finally took their first lead of the game after a 15 play drive when Evans scored on a 6 yard run. The momentum seemed to be shifting when a James Brown pass was intercepted on the next Texas drive and the Huskers converted the turnover into a 24 yard Kris Brown field goal, but once again the Longhorns struck back with another big play. On the fourth play of the next drive, Brown lifted a pass to Wayne McGarrity who carried it 66 yard for the touchdown The score put Texas back on top 30-27 with 8:53 left in the game.

The Husker were unable to move the ball on their next possession and turned the ball back over to Texas, setting the stage for one of the most dramatic plays in college football. Facing a fourth down and inches at their own 28 yard line, Texas shunned conventional wisdom and decided to go for it. Brown took the snap, rolled to his left and, with Husker defenders converging, lofted the ball to tight end Derek Lewis. Lewis cradled the ball and rambled 61 yards down to the Husker 11. Holmes took the next play 11 yards for a touchdown with 1:53 left in the game.. Nebraska's last gasp was halted when quarterback Scott Frost was sacked and fumbled into Texas hands.

The win gave the unranked Longhorns the Big 12 championship and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. The Huskers found themselves no longer a threat for the national championship, but still in the bowl alliance as they were invited to play in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech

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