Texas A&M;'s power prevailed, barely, over Texas passing Thursday night in a college football game that Aggies Coach Jackie Sherrill said was a tribute to a team that ignored off-the-field distractions.
"These seniors will never in their life have to endure what they have this year," Sherrill said after A&M; closed its season by holding off Texas, 28-24. "They played the game on the field."
Sherrill voluntarily sat out last Saturday's Texas A&M-Texas; Christian game after a published report quoted a former player as saying he had received $4,400 in "hush money" from Sherrill during an NCAA investigation of the A&M; program. The player later recanted the story.
Darren Lewis ran for 38 times for 212 yards and scored a touchdown and linebacker John Roper returned a blocked field goal 48 yards for another score as Texas A&M; (7-4) built a big early lead that just did withstand a furious Texas rally in the second half.
"It was all on guts and effort tonight," Coach David McWilliams said after the Longhorns lost for the seventh time in 11 games, ending Texas' worst season since 1956. "I'm not sure we could have played harder or better at times."
Texas rallied from a 28-0 second-quarter deficit behind freshman quarterback Mark Murdock's 3 touchdown passes. Wayne Clements' 39-yard field goal cut the A&M; lead to 4 points midway through the fourth period.
In a game played before a sellout crowd of 77,809, A&M; beat Texas for the fifth straight year to close the Longhorns' lead in the series to 63-27-5.
Lewis, second nationally in rushing behind Oklahoma State's record-setting Barry Sanders, ran 15 yards for a touchdown 3:53 into the game. Lewis ran 27 yards and Bucky Richardson threw a 28-yard pass to Rod Harris to set up the game's first score.
Lewis' 36-yard run carried the ball to the Texas 1, from where Robert Wilson scored for a 14-0 lead with 2:44 to go in the first period.
Texas' first scoring opportunity turned into disaster when Aaron Wallace blocked Clements' 52-yard field goal attempt. Roper picked the ball up without breaking stride and scored with 12:44 left in the half.
With Richardson sidelined by a knee injury, second-team quarterback Chris Osgood guided the Aggies 64 yards for their fourth touchdown. Osgood scored it on an 8-yard run, and Texas A&M; appeared to have the game put away before intermission.