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Texas A&M-Nebraska notebook: Defense can't do it again

11:44 PM CST on Saturday, November 11, 2006

By RACHEL COHEN / The Dallas Morning News

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M's defense continued its pattern of slow starts and fast finishes – until the very end. The Aggies allowed 21 points and 243 yards to Nebraska in the first half.

In the first 28 minutes of the second half, they gave up zero points and 80 yards. Then the Cornhuskers got the ball at their 25 trailing by six with 1:57 left. Nebraska drove 75 yards to score the winning touchdown with 21 seconds to go.

For the second straight week, A&M had few points to show for several drives into its opponent's territory. The Aggies had to punt from the Huskers' 35 and 37 on their first two possessions of the third quarter.

Then they had third and fourth down and 2 yards to go at the Nebraska 3 late in the period. Those are the same down-and-distance situations that sparked lots of second-guessing after a one-point loss to Oklahoma last weekend.

The Aggies again tried a pass on third down that fell incomplete, and again kicked a field goal on fourth down, which drew loud boos from A&M fans.

After thriving on third downs offensively and defensively all season, A&M floundered in those situations early on. The Aggies finished 5-of-14, while allowing Nebraska to convert on 7-of-15.

A&M also missed tackles, a problem last season that had been cured much of this year.

The Aggies had more success with big plays – even on third-and-long – than with a ball-control offense and lost the time of possession battle for the first time in Big 12 action.

Mike Goodson had a 53-yard run on third-and-10 to set up a field goal late in the third quarter, and quarterback Stephen McGee called an audible at the line of scrimmage on third-and-9 to exploit a blitz and race 57 yards for a touchdown in the final quarter.

Briefly: Running back Jorvorskie Lane had a season-low six carries but tied the 79-year-old school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with his 19th. ... Three A&M defensive starters did not play: tackle Red Bryant, end Jason Jack and linebacker Misi Tupe. ... Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor broke school records for touchdown passes (22) and career passing yards (5,193)

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