A&M avoids another Baylor nightmare

The tables were turned from a year ago, but history came very close to repeating itself. In an eerily similar situation to last year's humiliating loss in Waco, Texas A&M, led by senior quarterback Reggie McNeal, avenged a painful 2005 overtime loss to long-time Brazos rival Baylor, defeating the Bears 16-13 in overtime Saturday at Kyle Field.

It was an ugly game for Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0 Big 12), but in the end, the Aggies managed to pull out the stops when it really counted – late in the 4th quarter and in overtime.

For an A&M squad that entered the game seventh in the country in total offense, it was an off day. Junior running back Courtney Lewis led the numbers game for the Aggies with 57 yards on 16 carries, including the winning touchdown run in overtime.

McNeal garnered a mere 132 yards on the day, completing 12 of 31 attempts. He threw two interceptions in the first half and spent most of the game overthrowing receivers and lacking the critical timing and poise that has made him one of the country's most highly-touted quarterbacks.

Baylor (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) quarterback Shawn Bell lit up the Aggie pass defense with 222 yards through the air and was 25-of-45 on the day. Running back Paul Mosley posted 149 yards on 29 carries and junior wide receiver Trent Shelton added 34 yards on 4 receptions, including a touchdown.

The much-maligned Aggie defense did manage to step up their overall level of play from previous weeks, but the offense sputtered, struggling throughout the game and never fully establishing a routine. The A&M offense managed just three first downs and 70 yards before halftime.

Johnny Jolly a leading force in an improved performance by an Aggie defense with much to prove. The senior defensive lineman recorded two sacks of Bell. Sophomore DL Chris Harrington added to the Aggie sack total, also bringing down Bell early in the second quarter.

The fiery Baylor defense managed to rattle McNeal early and often and kept the pressure on the veteran quarterback throughout the game. The Bears played aggressive ball all day and never let up on the struggling Aggie offense.

With 5 minutes and change left in regulation play, the Aggies, trailing Baylor by 3, orchestrated an 88-yard drive that ended with a Todd Pegram field goal that tied the game, forcing overtime play. The hero of the drive was junior wide receiver Chad Schroeder who hauled in a fourth down 13-yard pass, keeping the drive and game alive.

A&M won the coin toss and deferred the ball to Baylor. The Bears managed a field goal, but left the door wide open for a hungry Aggie offense that had been stifled all day.

On three plays, a nervous Aggie crowd watched McNeal lead an A&M overtime drive that ended with a game-winning 13-yard rushing touchdown by Courtney Lewis.

Texas A&M continues conference play next week on the road in Boulder. The Aggies face Colorado in a 6:00 p.m. scheduled kickoff at Folsom Field.

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