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Web Posted: 11/12/2006 2:00 CST

Football: Aggies fall to Huskers on late TD

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COLLEGE STATION — If football truly is a game of inches, Texas A&M and Nebraska proved Saturday such measurements go up and down as well as sideways.

And 6 inches — the height difference between A&M cornerback Jordan Peterson and Nebraska receiver Maurice Purify — extinguished the Aggies' euphoria in the Cornhuskers' 28-27 victory before 83,336 stunned fans at Kyle Field.

"He's 6-4 and I'm 5-10," Peterson said. "That's pretty much why they went with that play."

That play, a 9-yard lob pass into the end zone with 21 seconds remaining in the game, hushed a raucous crowd that had witnessed the Aggies scratching back from a 14-point deficit to claim a lead midway through the fourth quarter.

"From the highest high to the lowest low," A&M defensive end Chris Harrington said. "And it's been like that two weeks in a row."

A week earlier, Oklahoma defeated the Aggies 17-16 at Kyle Field. A&M (8-3, 4-3 Big 12) has lost three conference games by a combined six points. Nebraska (8-3, 5-2) clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game.

"I don't think I've ever seen a season with as many last-minute games as this one," a deflated Aggies coach Dennis Franchione said. "It's amazing."

So were a couple of plays down the stretch for A&M — for all of the wrong reasons.

After an interception by Aggies linebacker Mark Dodge with 2:50 remaining, A&M only had to run out the clock for the victory while nursing a 27-21 lead. But on the Aggies' first play of the ensuing series from the Nebraska 29-yard line, running back Mike Goodson ran out of bounds after a 2-yard gain, killing the clock.

"It was an outside zone play and I had told Michael not to go out of bounds, but he really didn't have any choice," Franchione said.

Three plays later, the Cornhuskers blocked Layne Neumann's low field-goal attempt, and took over on their own 25-yard line with 1:57 remaining. Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor drove the Cornhuskers to the A&M 17-yard line.

Facing third-and-10, Taylor threw to Purify in the end zone, and Peterson successfully defended the play. But Aggies defensive tackle Marques Thornton was penalized for hitting Taylor late, and Nebraska earned a first down and a spot on the A&M 9-yard line.

One play later, Taylor connected with a leaping Purify, with Peterson defending in vain from behind.

"We had two minutes on the clock when we started, and we go with that scenario every Thursday in practice," Taylor said. "Everything was pretty much how we wanted it to be."

Franchione is 0-9 against Nebraska, OU and Texas, and 2-10 in November in his four seasons at A&M. With the loss, the Aggies have a decent shot of playing in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30. A&M closes out its regular season on Nov. 24 at UT.

"It's hard taking a loss any time you walk off of Kyle Field, but this one was special," A&M senior linebacker Justin Warren said of playing his final home game. "We just couldn't finish the game."

Notebook: A&M defensive tackle Red Bryant and linebacker Misi Tupe didn't play because of injury. ... Taylor owns the Nebraska single-season record for touchdown passes (22) and career passing yards (5,193) after Saturday. ... A&M finished 5 of 14 on third-down conversions.


bzwerneman@express-news.net

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