October 26, 2002
COLLEGE STATION, Texas-- Freshman David Horne scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half as Nebraska finally won on the road, defeating Texas A&M 38-31 Saturday night.
The Cornhuskers (6-3, 2-2 Big 12) rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to snap a five-game road losing streak, their longest since 1958.
They were on the verge of making it six in a row when Byron Jones returned a fumble by Jammal Lord 66 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 Texas A&M lead midway through the third quarter.
Then the Aggies (5-3, 2-2) gave up 24 straight points--on Horne's touchdown runs of 21, 11 and 6 yards, and a 42-yard field goal by Josh Brown. Horne's go-ahead 6-yarder came with 11:01 to play.
The Aggies hadn't allowed a 100-yard individual rushing performance since the 2000 season, and the 'Huskers had two 100-yard performances. Lord ran 159 yards on 30 carries, and Horne finished with 128 yards on 24 carries.
The comeback kept alive hopes for a 34th straight nine-win season and a 34th straight bowl bid for Nebraska.
Texas A&M blew a big lead at home for their second straight time. The Aggies led Texas Tech 35-17 in the fourth quarter Oct. 5 but lost 48-47 in overtime.
Horne's 11-yard TD came early in the fourth quarter, and the Cornhuskers' drive was kept alive when fullback Judd Davies ran for a first down on fourth-and-one at the Nebraska 28. Davies made the first down by only inches.
Horne's 6-yard TD came after A&M's Cody Scates sent a punt just 14 yards.
Interceptions by Pat Rickets and Philip Bland killed A&M's last two drives.
A pass-interference penalty on Nebraska's Fabian Washington on fourth down helped the Aggies take a 21-14 lead with 16 seconds left in the first half, on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Long to Greg Porter.
Washington interfered with tight end Haven Massey in the end zone, giving the Aggies a first down at the Nebraska 1-yard line.
The Huskers did what they do best in the first drive of the game, running right at the Aggies' defense for a 12-yard TD run by Dahrran Diedrick. The 80-yard drive included a 41-yard run by Lord.
The Aggies then took advantage of two Cornhusker miscues in the final 2:25 of the first quarter for a 14-7 lead. Anthony Squillante blocked a punt by Nebraska's Kyle Larson, and Terrence Thomas picked it up and ran 12 yards for a touchdown.
Moments later, Aggies linebacker Jarrod Penright recovered a fumble by Diedrick at the Nebraska 6-yard line. After a 3-yard loss by running back Derek Farmer, Long hit Joe Weber with a 9-yard touchdown pass.
The Cornhuskers tied it at 14-14 midway in the second quarter, aided by a fourth-and-one leap by Lord and a 28-yard pass from Lord to Wilson Thomas that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Horne.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES
FOR THE RECORD --- Nebraska scored on the initial possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead. It marked the first time this season that the Aggies didn't score first in a game ***A&M's game captains were Billy Yates, Taylor Whitley, Terrence Kiel and Cody Scates *** A&M's 12th Man Kickoff team representative was Blake Kendrick, a sophomore from Willis, Texas.
LONG CLIMBS TD CHART --- Sophomore quarterback Dustin Long completed 20 of 37 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, his fourth 200+ passing effort in his last five games. For the season, Long has posted 15 TD passes, the fifth most in school history and the most since Corey Pullig had 17 in 1993. The school record is 19 by Gary Kubiak in 1982. Long's 15 scoring tosses rank as the ninth most in school history.
WALK-ON IMPACT - A foursome of non-scholarship players made big plays for the Aggies tonight. Sophomore Anthony Squillante of the 12th Man kickoff team blocked a first-quarter punt that was returned for a TD by Terrence Thomas; 12th-Man member Matt Douglass had a pair of tackles on kickoffs; junior defensive lineman Nick Losada saw plenty of action in the absence of All-America candidate Ty Warren; and tight end Haven Massey drew a pass interference call in the end zone at the end of the first half that led to an A&M touchdown.
BIG-PLAY BYRON --- Sophomore defensive back Byron Jones returned a fumble 66 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. For the season, he has five takeaways for 184 yards (4 interceptions for 117 yards) and two touchdowns.
TIDBITS --- Byron Jones's third-quarter fumble return for a TD marked the second straight game the Aggies have returned a fumble for a score (last week against Kansas, Randall Webb turned the trick) *** A&M's first-quarter blocked punt was its first since Wes Bautovich blocked one last year at Oklahoma. A&M last returned a blocked punt for a TD last year against Oklahoma State when Eric Crutchfield recovered a Bautovich block in the endzone at Kyle Field *** A&M has lost three homes games this season (Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, Nebraska), including two straight. The last time A&M lost three home games was in 1996, which also was the last time the Aggies dropped two straight at home (Kansas State, Texas Tech).
DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES --- The Aggies came into tonight's game with the Big 12's top rushing defense, allowing just 76.9 yards per game. But Nebraska gained a whopping 381 yards on 73 carries, the second most rushing yards ever allowed by the Aggies (Texas had 386 rushing yards in 1970). Nebraska had two players rush for more than 100 yards, ending at 20 games A&M's streak of not allowing a 100-yard runner. The last player to gain 100 yards rushing against the Aggies was Oklahoma State's Reggie White, who had 112 yards on 19 carries in 2000. The last time a team had two 100-yard rushers against A&M was Nebraska in 1999 (Eric Crouch, 15-137; Dan Alexander, 20-135).
OTHER NOTABLES --- Bethel Johnson had three receptions for 28 yards, moving him into third on A&M's career receptions chart with 100. The school record is 110 by Keith Woodside (1984-87). Johnson's 1,485 career receiving yards also ranks third in school annals. He is chasing the school record of 1,576 set by Tony Harrison (1990-93) *** junior Jamaar Taylor had three receptions for 59 yards, giving him 37 for 671 on the season. His yardage ranks seventh on the school chart (the school record is 885 yards by Robert Ferguson in 2000).
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME QUOTES
BRIAN GAMBLE --- "We have to learn how to finish ball games. When you have a 17 or 18 point lead last in the third quarter, no opposing team should be able to comeback We've got to be able to tighten the noose in those situations and we haven't done that."
MARCUS JASMIN --- "We knew coming in what they would do. They are a run-run team. We knew it would be a tough game. It hurt us playing without Ty (Warren). We just haven't been able to finish and that's disappointing. But we are a team of character and I have confidence that we will come back and keep fighting to the end of the season."
BYRON JONES --- We were feeling good at that point (after fumble return for TD) and we thought we could close the game out. The defense has to learn how to close the game out. Lord is a good player, but most of the problems were technique things on our part. That played a big factor in them winning the game."
R.C. SLOCUM --- "We didn't play well in the second half. They were able to get the ball outside and ran extremely well. But my sense of the game was that their inside plays really hurt us. The ran up the middle several times for big yards. We had hoped Ty (Warren) could play. He hadn't practiced all wekk and just couldn't do it. It looked like the same-type team Nebraska's always had. They are a big, physical team with a talented quarterback. I think it's ridiculous all the things I've heard about that program. They were playing for a national championship less than a year ago. I knew we'd have our hands full. They played a lot of men in the box. I knew we had to make some plays in the passing game. We just were not consistent enough to affect their defense.
(On losing big leads at home) That is greatly disappointing to me. Nebraska and Tech are two different styles of teams. I never felt comfortable throughout the game tonight in stopping their offense. It's very disappointing to lose three times at home this year. On their first drive, we thought we had stops two or three times on third and longs. We should have been off the field if we'd just made tackles. They converted a lot of times and made a lot of first downs. That is tiring on a defense. We just stayed on the field too long on defense. That's a credit to Nebraska. We evaluate everything we do after every game. We've got a lot of tough games left and we'll have another opportunity next week."
HEAD COACH FRANK SOLICH: "That was a great college football game. Our kids showed tremendous heart and tremendous character for four quarters. Texas A&M did some good things but our kids hung in there. It is difficult to go on the road and overcome the turnovers and penalties. In terms of staying with it and believing in themselves, our kids did a great job. Our ball club and our players have great character and heart. We have come through some tough times and hung in there. We are going to enjoy this one and put it behind us. The way the game unfolded allowed us to get in the power running game. It came down to getting key first downs and keeping the drives going. They say you can't run the ball on these guys but we had to make it work. We overcame an awful lot. So many things happened in the second half. It was an unbelievable half of football. The interception by Philip Bland in the endzone is as big as it gets. I am as happy as can be for this program. When things go well you get a lot of pats on the back."
LINEBACKER DEMORRIO WILLIAMS: "Personally it felt real good (to do this in my home state). They got ahead on big plays. The defense felt like we played good the whole game. 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 endzone."