Aggies watch possible BCS berth slip away in loss to Bears
Nov. 1, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports
WACO, Texas -- Texas A&M can pretty much forget about the Big 12 South title, an improbable Bowl Championship Series berth or any momentum heading into its showdown against Oklahoma.
The Bad News Baylor Bears made sure of it.
Shawn Bell found Dominique Zeigler in the end zone for the winning two-point conversion a play after they connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass in overtime, lifting Baylor to a 35-34 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday night.
The stunning finish was perhaps the perfect end to an improbable upset.
"I expected them to go for the two-point conversion," Aggies coach Dennis Franchione said. "They ran that play excellently."
The Baylor players piled on top of each other in the corner of the end zone while students rushed the field, turning it into a green and gold mosh pit. They partied into the night long after the big win, pulling down the south goal post and carrying it up and out of Floyd Casey Stadium.
A&M players and fans watched the improbable scene in utter disbelief: the Aggies had won the last 13 games against their overmatched rival, including a 73-10 rout at College Station last year.
This was an upset 18 years in the making, and it couldn't have come at a worse time for Texas A&M (6-2, 4-1 Big 12).
The loss dropped the Aggies six spots in the AP Poll to No. 22 and took a lot of the sizzle out of their matchup with No. 2 Oklahoma in College Station next Saturday. It would have been a battle of unbeaten teams in the Big 12 South.
Not anymore. The Bears put an end to all the Aggies' big plans.
"We can't sit around and hang our head on this loss," A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal said. "We've got to bounce back from this."
Aggies tailback Courtney Lewis had a puzzling explanation for the loss, given what A&M had at stake going into the game.
"They just wanted it more than we did," he said.
The Aggies had flirted with danger the week before against Colorado, pulling out a thrilling three-point win in overtime. Their luck finally ran out.
A&M, which had committed one turnover in the previous seven games, lost two fumbles, an interception and had a punt blocked.
McNeal committed his first two turnovers of the season in the loss with the interception and a fumble. He had been the only starting quarterback in Division I-A without an interception thrown this season.
"It's hard to go through a streak like we had not turning the ball over," Franchione said. "But you just hope you don't turn it over all in one night."
On defense, Baylor quarterback Bell -- making his first start of the year -- frustrated the Aggies with his improvisational skills, completing 32 of 50 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns. He repeatedly scrambled out of trouble against A&M, including on the touchdown in overtime and the game-clinching two-point play.
Bell's ability to move outside the pocket played a big role in coach Guy Morriss' bold decision to end the game, win or lose, with a two-point conversion.
"It was a pretty easy decision at that point," Morriss said. "We had guys cramping pretty bad, they had just mashed us pretty good their first possession of overtime. We didn't want to go back and get in a situation like that."
The gutsy call worked to perfection.
"I was a little surprised they went for two," A&M safety Jaxson Appel said. "But you know the coach was going to be the hero or the burro. Right now, he's a hero."
With regular season games left against the Sooners, Texas Tech and No. 6 Texas, things could easily get worse for A&M.
"We've got OU coming in next week," Appel said. "So we can pout and feel sorry for ourselves or go back and keep working to get better."