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Huskers Fall to Texas A&M, 28-21

College Station, Texas -- For the second straight week, Nebraska fans were treated to a full 60 minutes of excitement, but the second-ranked Huskers fell to No. 18 Texas A&M, 28-21, in College Station, Texas.

The Aggies avenged a 54-15 setback to the Huskers in the 1997 Big 12 Championship Game and ended the Huskers’ 19-game winning streak and 40-game regular-season conference winning streak dating back to 1992. The conference winning streak was the second longest in Division I history.

A&M struck first for an early score as Randy McCown hit Chris Taylor for an 81-yard touchdown pass to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead. Midway through the second quarter, the Huskers tied the score as Correll Buckhalter scored on a 7-yard run to cap an eight-play, 48-yard drive.

A&M added another score late in the second quarter as Dante Hall scored from one yard out to give A&M a 14-7 lead. On the Huskers’ first possession of the second half, the Aggies sacked Nebraska QB Bobby Newcombe on three consecutive plays. The final one forced a fumble that the Aggies recovered in the end zone to take a 21-7 lead. Texas A&M added to its lead on the first play of the fourth quarter as Ja'Mar Toombs scored on a 3-yard run to give the Aggies a seemingly insurmountable 28-7 lead.

Behind the combination of Newcombe and sophomore split end Matt Davison, the Huskers began to mount a comeback. Newcombe, who completed 15-of-27 passes for a career-best 204 yards on the day, guided the Huskers to a pair of scores, while Davison had 112 of his school-record 167 receiving yards in the fourth quarter as

Nebraska closed to within 28-21 on an 11-yard run by Newcombe and a nine-yard score by fullback Joel Makovicka with 4:39 remaining. After forcing the Aggies to punt, the Huskers drove to the NU 40-yard line before Newcombe was picked off by Sedrick Curry to end Nebraska’s comeback bid.

Defensively, rush end Chad Kelsay had a career-high 11 stops, while linebacker Jay Foreman added nine tackles in a losing effort. The Huskers held A&M to just 2-of-8 passing, but allowed a season-high 259 rushing yards to the Aggies, the most by a Husker opponent since 1993.

Postgame Notes
The No. 2 Cornhuskers were upset by No. 18 Texas A&M, 28-21, in College Station, Texas, Saturday afternoon. Nebraska dropped to 5-1 and 1-1 in the Big 12, while A&M improves to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 Conference. A&M ended Nebraska's nation-leading overall winning streak at 19 games (first loss since Texas, Dec. 7, 1996, Big 12 Championship game), ended its road winning streak at 10 (first road loss since Arizona State, Sept. 21, 1996 vs. Arizona State), its conference winning streak at 40 (first regular-season conference loss since Iowa State, Nov. 14, 1992), its winning streak over ranked teams at eight (first loss to ranked team since ASU in 1996) and handed NU just its fourth loss in the last 69 tries. NU is 21-3 vs. ranked teams in the last six seasons. NU owns the best on the road Division I-A record over the last 10 years with a 41-7-1 record (26-3 since 1993). It is Nebraska's first loss in October in 47 games.

A&M scored first on an 81-yard pass from Randy McCown to Chris Taylor. It marked the second time this season NU trailed in a game (also vs. OSU last week). NU answered with a Correll Buckhalter 7-yard run with 8:35 left in the second quarter. It was set up by two first down passes to Matt Davison. A&M took a 14-7 lead with 3:37 remaining in the first half when Dante Hall scored on a 1-yard run, which was set up by Ja'Mar Toombs had a 71-yard run (longest run vs. NU this season, and first of more than 20 yards). After intermission, A&M took a 21-7 lead when Husker QB Bobby Newcombe fumbled in the end zone (recovered by Warick Holdman). The Huskers drove to the A&M 10 on their second possession of the second half, but were stopped on 4th and 1. A&M opened the fourth with a 3-yard TD run by Toombs (14:57) to take a 28-7 lead. Then NU's Newcombe scored on an 11-yard run with 8:08 left, and the Huskers brought it up to a 28-21 deficit with Joel Makovicka's 9-yard run with 4:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. That TD run gave Makovicka the school record for TDs scored by a fullback (with 13, breaking Tom Rathman, 1981-85, and Bill Thornton's record of 12, 1960-62).

Two-Minute Drill...After A&M took a 28-7 lead, NU forced A&M five and out, three and out, and six and out. Loran Kaiser and Chad Kelsay stopped the Aggies for no gain on third and six and NU got the ball for one last drive with two minutes remaining via a punt on their own 20 yard line. NU moved the ball to the NU 40, but with 3rd and 15, Bobby Newcombe was intercepted for just the first time in his career (0:51 remaining). It was NU's second turnover of the game.

* Split End Matt Davison...In his first career start, sophomore split end Matt Davison set a career best with 10 catches for a school-record 167 yards, including 5-52 in the first half. Davison's previous career high was 5-44 vs. California this season. (previous career best was 64 yards vs. Akron in 1997). Davison caught two first-down passes (13 yards on third down and 17 yards for a first down on second down) on Correll Buckhalter's 7-yard TD run in the second quarter. He had a season-long 49-yard reception to get NU to the A&M 28 on NU's first drive of the fourth quarter. He also had a 39-yard reception with just under nine minutes remaining in the game. It is the first time NU had 100-yard receiving game since Clester Johnson had 129 vs. Arizona State in 1995. It is the first time a Husker receiver had more than 150 yards in receptions since Chuck Malito had a school-record 166 vs. Hawaii on Dec. 4, 1976. His 10 receptions is the most since Shevin Wiggins had seven this season at California and Johnny Mitchell had seven against Oklahoma on Nov. 29, 1991 and just four short of the school-record 14 by Dennis Richnafsky (vs. Kanss State, Oct. 7, 1967) . Of Davison's 10 catches, six went for first downs, three of those were on two NU scoring drives. Davison's 10 catches were just one off his 1997 season total of 11-232. Davison is tied for 40th on the Husker career receptions chart with 34. He was the Nebraska Chevrolet Player-of-the-Game and NU's nominee for Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Game.

* Individual Career Highs...Tight End Sheldon Jackson...Jackson did not have any catches, but had two short-kick, kickoff returns for 19 yards (career best). SE Billy Haafke caught a career-high three passes for a career-best 23 yards.

* Quarterback Bobby Newcombe...Slowed by a PCL injury to his left knee, QB Bobby Newcombe had a career-best 204 yards passing on a career-high 27 attempts and a career-high 15 completions. He was Nebraska's leading rusher with 56 yards on 23 carries, including an 11-yard TD run to pull NU within 28-14. He threw his first interception of his career on NU's last drive of the game.

* Cornerback Ralph Brown...Brown recorded his first interception this season and his seventh of his career, when he picked off a Randy McCown pass at the NU 17 on A&M's first drive of the game. He returned it 43 yards to the A&M 40, but NU did not convert (only A&M turnover of the game). It was Brown's first pickoff since the Big 12 Championship game last year when he had an interception vs. A&M.

* Place-Kicker Kris Brown extended his school record of consecutive PATs to 108, hitting on three PATs. He now has 337 career points scored--a continuing school record.

* NU Defense...Nebraska extended its streak with at least one sack to 18 games. Against Texas A&M, NU had 2-11 (Erwin Swiney 1-1; Julius Jackson (assisted by Chad Kelsay) 1-10). After A&M took a 28-7 lead, the Husker defense took hold and forced A&M on 5-plays and out (punt), three and out (punt), six and out (punt) and three and out to end the game. After forcing A&M to punt three consecutive times on just 14 plays, the Husker offense got the ball back with two minutes remaining, but did not score. Chad Kelsay led the Huskers with a career-best 11 tackles, including one for a loss. This is the second straight week that Kelsay has totaled 10 or more tackles (10 vs. OSU). Redshirt sophomore Loran Kaiser had a career-high eight tackles and Cornerback Erwin Swiney recorded his second sack of the season and had two breakups to go with his two tackles.

* Misc....Texas A&M jumped out to a 7-0 first quarter lead and led 14-7 at halftime. It marked the first time NU trailed at halftime since Missouri led 24-21 on Nov. 8, 1997. NU also trailed OSU last week in Kansas City (3-0) but was tied 3-3 at half. This is the first time NU has given up this many points since allowing Missouri 38 in a 45-38 overtime Husker win last season. A&M's 259 yards rushing were the most vs. NU this season and the most since Iowa State totaled 261 in a 49-17 Husker win in Lincoln in 1993. Today's game marks the first time NU has given up back to back 100-yard individual rushing games since Priest Holmes (Texas) rushed for 120 in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game and Ken Oxendine (Virginia Tech) rushed for 150 in the 1996 Orange Bowl. Last week, OSU's Nathan Simmons had 114 and today, A&M's Dante Hall had 32-113 and Ja'Mar Toombs had 10-110. A&M is the first team since Iowa State's QB Marv Seiler (24-144) and FB Chris Ulrich (17-105)totaled 249 in the Nov. 14 ISU win over NU in 1992, to have two 100-yard rushers in a game against the Huskers. NU was held to 141 yards on the ground, marking the second time in two weeks that NU had less than 200. NU did not have a 100-yard rusher for the second consecutive week as Newcombe was NU's top rusher with 23-56

Texas A&M Notes
: No. 2-ranked Nebraska is the highest-ranked team ever defeated by Texas A&M. The Aggies defeated No. 4-ranked Tulane, 14-13, in the 1940 Sugar Bowl to wrap up the 1939 national championship (ironically, A&M today presented national championship rings to the 1939 team). In 1956, A&M defeated No. 4-ranked TCU, 7-6, at Kyle Field in what became known as “The Hurricane Game” because of tornadoes in the area. In 1975, the Aggies defeated No. 5-ranked Texas, 20-10, at Kyle Field. R.C. Slocum is 3-2 against top 10-ranked teams at Kyle Field. In 1989, his first season as head coach, Slocum’s Aggies defeated No. 7-ranked LSU, 28-16, in his first game as head coach. A&M later beat No. 8 Houston, 17-13, that season.

NEBRASKA’S STREAKS END: A&M’s victory today ends Nebraska’s 19-game winning streak, the nation’s longest. Nebraska also had won 40 straight regular-season conference games, also the nation’s longest.

NGUYEN PASSES SIMONINI: Senior All-America linebacker Dat Nguyen posted eight tackles, giving him 426 in his career and moving him past Ed Simonini (425 in 1972-75) and into third place on A&M’s career list. Johnny Holland (1983-86) is the career leader with 455 stops.

TOOMBS RUMBLES: True freshman fullback Ja’Mar Toombs, thrust into action after 1997 starter Marc Broyles was diagnosed with a rare eye condition and D’Andre “Tiki” Hardeman’s suspension, keyed the Aggies’ second touchdown of the game with a 71-yard run through the heart of the Nebraska “Black Shirts.” The 260-pound Toombs was eventually hauled down at the 1-yard line, but A&M’s Dante Hall punched it in on the next play. Toombs is the only member of the Aggies’ freshman class to see action this year; the other 11 are redshirting. Toombs later added a three-yard touchdown blast in the fourth quarter. Toombs finished with a career-high 110 yards on 10 carries.

HALL A HIT AGAIN: Junior running back Dante Hall rushed for 113 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, his second straight 100-yard game. He rushed for 177 yards last week at Kansas. Hall and backfield mate Toombs each surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark today, the first A&M duo to do that since Hall and Sirr Parker did it last season against Oklahoma (Hall 12-139; Parker 22-123).

LOCAL BOY DOES GOOD: Sophomore wide receiver Chris Taylor, from nearby Madisonville, put the Aggies on the scoreboard first when he and QB Randy McCown connected on an 81-yard touchdown pass and catch. It was the longest pass by the Aggies since 1989 when QB Chris Osgood connected with Shane Garrett on an 84-yarder against Southern Methodist. It was the seventh longest pass play in A&M history.

TURNING THE TIDE: Nebraska had two turnovers today (one fumble and one interception), to only one turnover by A&M (an interception). For the season, A&M has committed only five turnovers to 14 by its opponents.

OTHER NOTABLES: Because of injuries to the 12th Man Kickoff team, walk-on Chad Frantzen, a former 12th Man himself, donned the revered No. 12 jersey and was the A&M student body representative on the kickoff unit. Frantzen emerged as Dat Nguyen’s surprise backup prior to the Kickoff Classic … Captains for the Aggies against Nebraska were punter Shane Lechler, linebacker Dat Nguyen, wide receiver Chris Cole and linebacker Warrick Holdman …the Aggies have scored in a school-record 126 straight games...legendary Texas high school football coach Gordon Wood (Brownwood HS) was a guest of coach R.C. Slocum today in the press box...representatives of the Insight.com Bowl and the Sugar Bowl attended today’s game, along with representatives of the Lombardi Award...a seel-out crowd of 60,798 attended today’s game (temporary Kyle Field capacity: 58,000)...A&M is 2-6 against Nebraska. The only other win against the ‘Huskers came in Lincoln in 1955, 27-0...A&M is 46-4-1 at home in the 1990s...the Aggies rushed for 259 yards, the most by a Nebraska opponent in at least the last two seasons...Shane Lechler averaged 45.3 yards on eight punts, despite an 11-yard shank in the second quarter that set up Nebraska’s first touchdown.

Nebraska Postgame Quotes
Nebraska head coach Frank Solich
--- “It was a hard fought game by both teams. I’m proud of our team. They did a tremendous job of putting us in a situation to win the game at the end. A&M deserves a lot of credit. They played very well, but we struggled offensively. In the fourth quarter, we went to some different formations and a hurry-up type offense that gave us new life. (on A&M defense) They have a very fine defense. Players are quick to the ball and they defended our option well. (on A&M offense) We hoped they wouldn’t get the big play but they did. They beat us today. It was two good teams playing today, but they were better than us.

Rush End Chad Kelsay --- “We didn’t know how hard A&M was going to come out today. We gave up a couple of big plays early but that happens. We never gave up. We had 11 guys on each side of the ball playing for each other. Wins are fun and easy, but the losses aren’t. We can sit around and pout about it, or we can get back up and start getting ready for Kansas on Monday.

Tight end Sheldon Jackson --- “This is the kind of game you have to put behind you. This is college football; it’s going to happen. We need to refocus and get back to concentrating on winning the Big 12.”

Quarterback Bobby Newcombe --- “We thought we had a good game plan but we couldn’t run the ball. We had a lot of motivation to fight at the end. We still had a chance even though it was 28-7. (on crowd noise) They were very loud, but it wasn’t a huge factor. We had a couple of plays where there was some miscommunication, like the last play (Curry’s interception). They had great speed on defense which made it hard to run the option. But we just didn’t execute today. My knee wasn’t a problem today.”

Receiver Matt Davison --- “There is no consolation in a loss like this. We’re not very happy. But we’re Nebraska, so we never thought we were out of it. We stuck together but they beat us today.”

Texas A&M Postgame Quotes
Head Coach R.C. Slocum --- “No question about it. This is the biggest win of my career. Before this, it was the win against LSU (in his first game as head coach in 1989, when A&M beat No. 7 LSU, 28-16). Since then, there have been some big wins along the way. I just thought those were big ones. This is great for what it does. It makes us 2-0 in conference and we beat a team that has done what no one else in college football has done. It is more meaningful because we did it against a legitimate team like Nebraska. We had a good hill to climb today but we had a good plan. We didn’t try to trick them, we just wanted to beat them by playing good, sound football. I thought we would play well but I knew it would be a pretty big hill to climb. We knew we had to run the ball and we can’t get all spread out and try this trick play or that trick play. One of the biggest theories in the game was after the long run and they had a short field. Our defense went out there and held them. I’m really pleased about how soundly we defended the option play and we really did a great job of tackling. One of our goals was the create some turnovers on defense. The couple of long passes they had were irritating. It was poor defensive play on our part to let that happen.”

Texas A&M safety Rich Coady --- “This is a huge win for us. For anyone who has ever worn an A&M jersey, this is unbelievable. The fans were amazing. At times, it was so loud on the field we had trouble hearing ourselves think. I don’t think even one person left the game. (On last few plays) We said ‘Look it’s right here in front of us. This is our chance to beat the No. 2 team in the country, a chance to get another Big 12 win and a chance to get some respect. The defense was on the field at the end so it was on our shoulders.”

Offensive Coordinator Steve Kragthorpe--- “(on the Maroon Out) It was a great atmosphere. It was a neat deal. We’ve got to keep that thing going. This game is a testament to our guys. We had a good week of practice, but not abnormally great. Our offensive line is starting to jell. They have worked hard every day.”

Running Back Dante Hall --- “This a huge win. As a player, you get tired of hearing you can’t, ya, ya. This game, we just believed more. Randy (McCown) did a great job. I told him all week to just keep his poise and he did a great job doing just that.”

Quarterback Randy McCown --- “To beat a team like Nebraska is unbelieveable. I was real relaxed out there. We’ve had opportunities to play top-ranked teams like Nebraska and Florida State, so this wasn’t knew to us. We knew that we had to relax and execute and make big plays. We have to execute to make big plays happen. After the first big play, I knew we could win it. I can’t say enough about this team’s character. The key is not ever doubt yourself and never give up. This is nothing but confidence builder, especially since its Nebraska.”

Offensive Guard Cameron Spikes --- “This is the biggest win any of us has ever been a part of. The No. 2 team in the country is going back to Nebraska with an L. I’m glad our home fans got to see it. It’s got to be the biggest win ever at Kyle Field. We have been shooting ourselves in the foot for so long. I knew if we could execute and play well all four quarters we would be okay. Jamar Toombs is great. He’s a big freshman but he’s not considered a freshman around us. We knew he could run the ball if we just gave him some space. He was a key player in this win.”

Linebacker Dat Nguyen --- “(on seven stitches in his thumb in first half) It happened on the first play of the game. I made the tackle and one of my own teammates hit me and cut it open. (on win) We knew we could hang with them, as long as we don’t give them the big play. you could stop them nine of 10 plays, but the tenth would break your back. We had to stay focused. The sky is the limit for us. If we keep great focus and great participation, the sky is the limit.”

Defensive Back Sedrick Curry --- “(on last-minute interception)We didn’t want to give up anything deep. I made a good break on the ball and it was right there. It was the greatest play of my career.”

Tight End Dan Campbell --- “Last year was the first time we got a taste of a team like Nebraska. When we played for the Big 12 championship, we weren’t ready for their style of play. Then we played UCLA in the Cotton Bowl and opened with FSU this year. I thank God we played FSU. That may have helped us more than anything. We knew we had a chance. As we were driving the ball, we were picking up four or five yards and you could see it in their eyes that they didn’t know what to do. Our offense played a heck of a game.”

Receiver Chris Taylor --- “(on 81-yard TD pass) We had missed it a couple of times before. I was susprised when I caught it. I turned around and no one was there.”

Fullback Ja’Mar Toombs --- “(on long TD run) I was just trying to get a first down. There was some daylight and I just kept running. I didn’t know the guy was behind me until I looked at the big screen and saw him. This is a real big transition. In high school, I could just push guys down. Now, some guys are bigger than me.”