COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Oklahoma struggled, rallied, faced
adversity and needed to play hard for every last second to beat
It was nothing like last year, but far more satisfying to the
Jason White threw five touchdown passes to tie his own school
record, including the decisive one with 6:43 left, and the
second-ranked Sooners overcame No. 22 Texas A&M's explosive offense and
special teams trickery for a 42-35 victory Saturday.
Oklahoma handed Texas A&M a loss for the ages last season --
77-0, the worst in the 108-year history of Aggies football. But the
rematch was a battle to the finish for the Sooners (9-0, 6-0 Big
12), just like last week when they held on to win 38-35 at Oklahoma
"To overcome all that we did today I think is a positive thing.
People can criticize, which will happen, we're one of those teams
that gets it when we win," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "All
that we overcame, down here in this atmosphere and still came away
with the victory, makes me proud of our players and our coaches who
hung in there and made the plays in the end that won the football
White, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, was 19-of-35 for 292
yards, taking control of the offense as the Aggies
swarmed to star freshman running back Adrian Peterson.
"It was an exciting day at the office," White said. "You've
got to give them credit, they're a great team and really turned the
program around down here. We played a tough opponent today and we
played at their place and we came away with the victory."
Peterson still managed to run for 101 yards and a touchdown on a
tough 29 carries, his ninth straight 100-yard game. He went to the
locker room on Oklahoma's go-ahead drive with an apparent arm
injury, but returned to help the Sooners run the clock down.
The Aggies (6-3, 4-2) finished the game without their offensive
leader. Reggie McNeal left with an apparent injury in the third
quarter after throwing for 213 yards and two touchdowns and running
for a score.
With the Aggies trailing 35-28, McNeal was relieved by Ty
"It was frustrating to sit there, but I knew he could make
plays, too," McNeal said, though he wouldn't talk about the
specifics of his injury.
Branyon, the former walk-on, led Texas A&M on a long drive with
five completions. The march stalled at the Sooners 4.
Already having used a fake punt to score, Aggies coach Dennis
Franchione pulled another fast one. A&M set up for a field goal,
but holder Chad Schroeder rolled left and flipped a TD pass to Joey
Thomas to tie the game.
"You think I just pulled them out of my hat?" Franchione said.
"Of course they were planned."
The Sooners went right to work getting the lead back, with
Peterson converting a third down with a tackle-breaking 8-yard run,
and A&M helping out with a pass interference penalty.
On third-and-10 at the Aggies 39, White stepped up in the pocket
to deliver a strike down the middle to Mark Bradley, who slipped a
tackle at the 15 and went in for a 42-35 lead.
A&M and its little-used quarterback got one more shot with just
over a minute left and the ball at the 13.
Branyon scrambled and passed the Aggies to the Sooners 33 with 9
seconds left and no timeouts. His first Hail Mary went out of the
end zone, and his final heave was tipped and fell just out of the
reach of Schroeder in the end zone.
The Aggies showed just how far they have come since last
season's 4-8 record, twice taking a 14-point lead on the Sooners in
the first half and scoring touchdowns on their first four
"I deal in the present and the future," Franchione said "What
happened last year is what we did to ourselves."
As for this year, "I was happy I could tell my players I was
proud of them at the end of the game," he said.
But the Aggies couldn't shake the Sooners, who took A&M's best
shots and trailed by 28-21 at the half.
"We came in at halftime down by seven and we came out and the
defense played a heck of a game in the second half," White said.
"As an offense we kind of sputtered a little bit but we came
through when it counted."
The Aggies turned the ball over three times in the first 6:10 of
the second half, including two fumbles deep in their own territory.
White followed the fumbles with touchdown passes.
His 2-yard toss off play action to James Moses gave the Sooners
a 35-28 lead, their first of the day, midway through the third
But the Aggies got a spark from Branyon, who had thrown only 17
passes. He went 7-for-12 for 72 yards and ran for 38 yards.
On their first drive of the game, the Aggies had more yards (76)
than they had last year (54) all game against the Sooners.
McNeal put the Aggies on top 7-0, finding Terrence Murphy for 18
Texas A&M's start was reminiscent of 2002, when McNeal as a
freshman threw four TDs and the Aggies knocked off the No. 1
Sooners 30-26 in Kyle Station.
Just when it looked like Oklahoma had forced A&M's first punt,
the Aggies took a huge gamble and hit the jackpot in the second
On a fourth-and-1, punter Jacob Young took two steps and chucked
a short pass to Earvin Taylor, who got a great block from Jason
Jack to get the first down, then broke a couple of tackles and
sprinted down the sideline for a 71-yard touchdown that made it
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