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Updated 8:06 AM on Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nebraska's Purify catches game-winner with 0:21 left
Gameday Final Edition: All articles | Big 12 Scoreboard | A&M knocked out of polls, BCS
Photos: A&M-Nebraska Slide Show | Audio: Postgame comments from Aggie players
Video: Pre-game ceremonies | A&M highlights | Franchione | McGee | Harrington | Warren & Bullitt | Dodge & Peterson

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Eagle Photo/Butch Ireland
Nebraska's Maurice Purify grabs a 9-yard touchdown pass over Texas A&M's Jordan Peterson with 21 seconds left Saturday at Kyle Field.

Texas A&M was a play away from victory, but time after time, the Aggies painfully came up short.

For the second straight week.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers pulled out a 28-27 win Saturday when 6-foot-4 wide receiver Maurice Purify outjumped 5-10 Jordan Peterson for a 9-yard touchdown catch with 21 seconds left, stunning a partisan Kyle Field crowd of 83,336.

The 25th-ranked Huskers (8-3, 5-2) clinched the Big 12 North Division's spot in the league title game, bettering their bowl prospects at the expense of the 24th-ranked Aggies (8-3, 4-3).

And A&M suffered its second straight one-point loss at Kyle Field. Oklahoma beat A&M, 17-16, last week.

But this one conjured up images of another ugly defeat - A&M's loss in the Big 12 home opener when Texas Tech's Robert Johnson, who is 4 inches taller than Peterson, caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the final 30 seconds over the now twice-burned Aggie cornerback.

Against Texas Tech, Johnson's catch came more or less in stride with Peterson in good position to defend the play. The 37-yard touchdown catch with 26 seconds led to Tech's 31-27 victory.

On Saturday, Nebraska's Purify looked more like a basketball post than a wide receiver as he stopped, blocked out Peterson with his body, then jumped to catch the football at the highest possible point.

"That's pretty much why they ran that play," Peterson said. "He's a real big, physical receiver."

Purify's vertical leap capped a brilliant 11-play, 75-yard drive engineered by quarterback Zac Taylor in the final 2 minutes.

The Huskers made no mistakes with no timeouts while driving into the enclosed portion of Kyle Field, silencing the loud, towel-waving fans in The Zone. Taylor converted a fourth-and-three from the Nebraska 32 with a 22-yard pass to Todd Peterson.

Taylor then completed passes of 16 yards to Dan Erickson and 13 more yards to Peterson to reach the A&M 17.

After clocking the ball on first down, Taylor threw a pair of incompletions. A&M's Jordan Peterson thwarted the second pass with a good defensive play covering Purify, but A&M defensive tackle Marques Thornton was called for roughing the passer when he hit Taylor late. The penalty set up the touchdown pass on the next play.

"The 2-minute drill is something we practice quite a bit," Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said. "We put a lot of emphasis on it."

A&M had a chance to make Nebraska's final drive meaningless.

Linebacker Mark Dodge, pressed into the starting lineup because of a injury, intercepted Taylor with 2:50 left. Dodge's interception in the last-second loss to Texas Tech earlier this season was nullified after a review, allowing the Red Raiders to pull out the comeback.

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Barry Turner and the Nebraska defense sacked Texas A&M's Stephen McGee three times. McGee hit 18 of 31 passes for 244 yards.

This time, the 25-year-old Army veteran celebrated Veterans Day and his mother's birthday by returning the interception 16 yards. The Aggies, however, couldn't make Nebraska pay for the game's lone turnover.

Nebraska, which had only two timeouts, caught a break when freshman running back Mike Goodson was pushed out of bounds on first down, and A&M eventually used only 53 seconds on the possession.

Then when Nebraska defensive end Barry Turner blocked Layne Neumann's 42-yard field goal attempt, the Huskers had a chance.

"Boy, special teams were such a big part of the game," Callahan said. "We practice that every day. We practice that live, and we practice it full speed. That block at the end meant everything to ignite our offense."

Neumann had hit nine straight field goals after having a 43-yard field goal blocked at Kansas, when A&M rallied for a 21-18 victory.

This time, the block contributed to the loss.

"It just comes down to you need to make one more play," A&M head coach Dennis Franchione said. "We needed a field goal. We needed a first down. We needed a stop, and we didn't get it."

A&M needed several plays to wipe out a 21-7 halftime deficit.

Taylor, who set the school record for career passing yards Saturday, hit 10 of 15 passes in the first half, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cody Glenn. It was Taylor's 21st touchdown pass of the season, another school record.

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With Texas A&M leading 27-21 late in the fourth quarter, Nebraska blocks an Aggie field goal attempt.

Taylor's arm was complemented by a solid rushing attack, which netted 86 yards in the first half, including a pair of short touchdown runs by Cody Glenn, who is from Rusk.

In the second half, A&M's defense put the clamps on Taylor and Nebraska, despite having linebacker Misy Tupe and tackle Red Bryant missing with apparent injuries. A&M's offense also got big runs by quarterback Stephen McGee and Goodson to spur the comeback attempt.

"You've got to learn to finish," A&M defensive end Chris Harrington said. "One play here or there, and it's over. I think we know how to finish. I think we just have to do it."

A&M came oh-so close.

The defense limited the Cornhuskers to 80 yards on 25 plays in the second half during its comeback.

"They came back and played a whale of a second half," Callahan said.

The Aggies took the lead for the first time on Jorvorskie Lane's 1-yard run with 7:28 left. Lane put A&M in position to score with a 44-yard halfback pass to Chad Schroeder.

A&M's defense put Taylor in a bind. Michael Bennett had a 6-yard sack, then Nebraska got called for a holding penalty, creating a second-and-27.

That set up Dodge's interception and a frantic finish.

"I don't think I've ever seen a season with as many last-minute games as this one," Franchione said. "I'm proud of our players. They fought all the way down to the end." | Classifieds | | Subscribe | Terms of Use | Privacy | Contact Us

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