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Ag offense hits snag in second half
October 27, 2002

Eagle Staff Writer

Eagle photo/Butch Ireland

Texas A&M’s Terrence Thomas scores a touchdown after Anthony Squillante blocked a punt against Nebraska in first-half action.

Texas A&M’s defense had another meltdown, but the Aggie offense couldn’t help soothe the pain.

A&M’s offense, which had averaged 492.7 yards and 45 points in the last three games, couldn’t add a thing to a 17-point lead as Nebraska roared back with three unanswered scores for a 38-31 Big 12 victory on Saturday night at Kyle Field.

A&M’s Wrecking Crew defense came in ranked fifth in the country against the rush, allowing only 76.9 yards per game. Nebraska had 73 rushes for 381 yards, the most against A&M since Texas had 386 yards rushing in 1970.

Nebraska’s offense dominated the second half with 41 rushes for 243 yards.

A&M’s offense couldn’t keep pace and really produced only one touchdown drive. One of A&M’s touchdowns came on a fumble recovery, another on a blocked punt, and the other score was set up by a fumble recovery inside the Nebraska 10.

A&M took a 31-14 lead on defensive back Byron Jones’ 66-yard fumble recovery with 7 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third quarter. That came on the heels of a 33-yard field goal by A&M’s Todd Pegram, which ended a nine-play, 64-yard drive.

But while Nebraska would score four times in the closing 22 minutes, A&M would struggle with four possessions, two of them of the three-play and punt variety.

“They brought seven, eight guys,” A&M quarterback Dustin Long said. “They always tried to make me look at different looks and throw to different hot routes. We just didn’t get the job done.”

A&M’s last drive showed promise — seven plays for 59 yards — until Nebraska came up with a game-clinching interception in the end zone.

“The defense felt like we played good the whole game,” Nebraska linebacker Demorrio Williams said. “Coming in the Blackshirts were going up against the Wrecking Crew and the best unit would win. Once we got the offense on the field we knew we would get the ball in the end zone.”

A&M ended with 24 less snaps than Nebraska and only 322 yards. The Aggies were 5 of 14 on third-down conversions as the Cornhuskers packed the line of scrimmage.

A&M had a season-low 24 rushes for 84 yards. It was the third game the Aggies had failed to rush for 100 yards (38 vs. Virginia Tech and 82 vs. Pittsburgh).

“They played a lot of men in the box,” A&M head coach R.C. Slocum said. “I knew we had to make some plays in the passing game. We were not consistent enough to affect their defense.”

A&M quarterback Dustin Long was 20 of 37 passing for 269 yards with a pair of touchdowns, but he was sacked twice and intercepted twice.

A&M ran the ball 10 times on first down and picked up only 40 yards, but 17 of those came on an end-around in the first half.

“When you get out there and get a lead like that [31-14] as an offense you gotta keep scoring,” Long said. “And we didn’t do that. We had some ups and downs on offense. We just gotta go back and try to play more consistent.”

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