No. 22 Texas A&M 32, Texas Tech 25, OT

Saturday, November 13th 2004, 8:57 pm
By: News On 6

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) _ Sonny Cumbie fired a pass into the end zone, Byron Jones swatted it away and hundreds of maroon-clad players and fans stormed the field to celebrate.

The Texas A&M Aggies are getting this overtime thing down pat.

Courtney Lewis scored on a 25-yard run on the first play of overtime and Jones knocked down Cumbie's fourth-down pass, sending Texas A&M to a thrilling 32-25 win over Texas Tech on Saturday.

The Aggies went into an extra period for the third time in four weeks, winning for the second time at Kyle Field.

``I guess we're just about one play better or one play worse than everybody,'' A&M coach Dennis Franchione said. ``We made one more play tonight.''

Lewis' second touchdown run of the afternoon helped the 22nd-ranked Aggies (7-3, 4-2 Big 12) dramatically end a two-game losing streak that included an overtime loss at Baylor and a seven-point defeat against No. 2 Oklahoma last week.

After Tech quarterback Cumbie's 50th and final pass of the afternoon fell incomplete, A&M players rushed the field and the frenzied sellout crowd of 82,278 erupted with cheers. The Red Raiders (6-4, 4-3) watched the wild celebration in stunned silence.

Thousands of fans locked arms and sang the ``Aggie War Hymn,'' A&M's traditional sendoff after games. When the final verse was sung, members of the Corps of Cadets sprinted onto the field to celebrate another rousing finish, this time in the last home game of the season.

``I can't think of a better way to go out,'' A&M senior offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner said. ``Last game at Kyle Field, beating Tech in a rivalry game ... it doesn't get a whole lot better than that.''

Lewis finished with 115 yards rushing on 19 carries and Reggie McNeal added 309 yards of total offense and a touchdown in a game that started as a surprising defensive struggle and ended with plenty of offensive fireworks.

The Red Raiders saw a three-game winning streak over their hated in-state rival come to an end in the kind of high-scoring, back-and-forth contest that favored the nation's No. 3 offense.

Both offenses, which came into the game averaging a combined 69 points and 952 yards a game, sputtered along for three quarters _ A&M held a 12-7 lead _ before coming alive in the electrifying fourth.

The Aggies, however, made one more play on offense when it really counted.

``About the time the offense started playing,'' Tech coach Mike Leach said, ``the defense started playing poorly.''

A&M fullback Keith Joseph bulled into the end zone from a yard out with 5:38 left, completing a 10-play, 80-yard drive to give the Aggies a 25-18 lead.

But Cumbie methodically directed Tech's spread offense down the field, going 6-of-8 for 50 yards on the final drive of regulation.

His second touchdown of the game went to Jarrett Hicks, who dropped what would have been a sure touchdown in the end zone on the previous drive.

Hicks gave a slight shove to A&M cornerback Jonte Buhl, and quickly went to the ground to make the tying touchdown catch with 10 seconds left. Tech's sideline erupted while the mostly maroon-clad fans went eerily quiet.

That was the last hurrah for the Red Raiders' vaunted offense, though.

After Lewis' spinning, stumbling touchdown run on the first play of overtime, Cumbie completed a 1-yard pass to Trey Haverty before throwing three straight incompletions to end the game.

``We didn't grab it when it was out there,'' Cumbie said. ``We just didn't execute the plays that were called very well.''

Cumbie finished 31-of-50 for 294 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, his least productive game of the season. Taurean Henderson had 131 yards of total offense and two touchdowns and Cody Fuller added seven receptions for 124 yards.

For A&M, the win served as a bit of revenge for a 59-28 rout by Texas Tech last year behind a Big 12-record eight touchdown passes by B.J. Symons. Coming into this game, the Red Raiders had won three straight and seven of the last nine in this simmering rivalry.

``Tech is a team that was in the way of where we're trying to go,'' A&M linebacker Archie McDaniel said. There was ``probably a little more bad blood between the schools than normal. This was just another team that had embarrassed us last year.''

More than bragging rights were at stake in this game. A&M might now be the front-runner for a more attractive bowl, with the Cotton Bowl in Dallas the likely prize should No. 6 Texas make it into the Bowl Championship Series.