Texas A&M Game Turning Point

<B>turning point</B> - <I>n.</I> The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

This one was crazy. The momentum for the Texas-Texas A&M showdown shifted quicker than a photographer on the red carpet of an event with Tara Reid in attendance. In hours-of-the-day time it was actually 30 minutes. In football time, it spanned over two halves and was less than two minutes.

When Texas drove 88 yards to the Aggie one-yard line with under a minute left to play in the first half, the Longhorns were poised to punch it in and take a seven, or with the way extra points were errantly flying all over the place, a six-point lead into the break. It would have been the second long scoring drive of the half and effectively established some semblance of dominance for the Horns' offense.

Instead, Vince Young’s over-the-top leap to within inches of breaking the plane got rejected, he fumbled, and A&M took it back the other way for a seven-point lead of its own and a huge boost of confidence going into the intermission

Conversely, the Longhorns, who trailed at half in the previous two games only to come back and win in dramatic fashion in both cases, really felt the sting of this half-time deficit. So much work on a stellar 16-play drive with numerous clutch plays and nothing to show for it. In fact, the Aggies, who essentially did nothing to stop the drive, made one good play and it paid huge dividends. That play could have been a backbreaker and the turning point that ultimately resulted in the Longhorns losing the game. It wasn’t.

On A&M’s opening offensive drive and with less than two minutes gone in the second half, Longhorn fans had the freak play at the end of the first half erased from their collective memory in what turned out to be the 10th Burnt Orange turning point of the season. While everyone will remember what happened on fourth down and how it resulted in Texas tying the game, it’s what happened on the three plays prior that really set the tone for the half and was a sign of things to come.

A&M came out of the break with the unexpected seven-point lead and most importantly, momentum. The Aggie offense, which had managed 184 yards and 11 first downs in the first half, was brimming with confidence despite being outscored by its own defense.

On that first drive of the second half, the Aggie offense had: a run of two yards, a batted down pass by Texas’ Tim Crowder, and a completion for a gain of five. Three and out. As we all know, on fourth down Michael Griffin blocked the punt and Bobby Tatum scooped it up and took it into the end zone with a convoy of Texas players serving as his escort. Texas had tied the game and suddenly Young’s fumble and the 98-yard touchdown return at the end of the first half was a distant memory and a 180 from the direction the game was now heading.

If there was any question that momentum had shifted to the side of the Longhorns, you had to look no further than the ensuing extra point attempt. Backup holder Matt Nordgren fumbled the snap, and then kicker Dusty Mangum kicked the ball, at best, six inches off the ground. The try was good. Okay, a lot happened in between but in the end it still resulted in Texas getting the extra point and tying the game. That’s momentum, if not a little bit of good karma.

In the second half the Longhorn offense picked up where it left off in the first, gaining yards but more importantly finishing those drives with points. With that, and a Texas defense that harassed A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal to no end including an impressive eight sacks for the game, the Aggies’ fate was sealed and the Horns finished with their fifth consecutive victory over their in-state rivals.

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