Texas A&M had won last 13 contests vs. Bears
WACO, Texas -- Baylor coach Guy Morriss gathered his players around him, took a look at his weary bunch and went with the only decision that made sense to him.
The Bears had to end the game, win or lose, with a 2-point conversion.
"I had a gut feeling that it was right thing to do at that point to drive the nail in the coffin," Morriss said. "We wanted to teach our kids how to drop the hammer on someone."
Did they ever.
Shawn Bell found Dominique Zeigler in the end zone for the winning score a play after they connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass, lifting Baylor to a 35-34 overtime victory over No. 16 Texas A&M on Saturday night.
After Texas A&M's Keith Joseph scored on a 16-yard touchdown run on the first possession of overtime, Bell and Zeigler led the Bears (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) to the stunning finish.
Bell completed a pass for no gain on the Bears' first play, Anthony Krieg rushed for 13 yards on second down and then Bell rolled out to his right before finding Zeigler just inside the goal line.
Morriss boldly decided to go for the 2-point conversion, hoping to catch the Aggies (6-2, 4-1) by surprise.
The call stunned even Zeigler, who missed the huddle because he was getting treated for leg cramps on the bench.
"I didn't even know we were going for two," he said. "All of a sudden they said, 'Get in Ziggy. We're going for two.'"
It worked to perfection.
Baylor ran the same play again, with Bell scrambling around to his right looking for anyone in a green jersey. He zipped a pass to Zeigler just in front of A&M defensive back Melvin Bullitt for the score, setting off a wild celebration at a school that's had few
things to party about in recent years.
Gold and green-clad students stormed the field, quickly taking down the goal posts in the south end zone and carrying them up and out of Floyd Casey Stadium. Loud music blared over the stadium speakers -- oddly fitting at a Baptist university that didn't allow
dances on campus until eight years ago -- and a mosh pit formed on the field.
"Beating A&M was very sweet," Baylor linebacker Justin Crooks said. "I can't describe how we feel. We can hardly believe it."
Said Bell: "I've never met anyone who said they beat A&M the last time."
A&M players and fans watched the improbable scene in utter disbelief -- the Aggies had won the last 13 games against their overmatched rival, including a 73-10 rout at College Station last year.
"The coach had been telling them all week ... to remember last season," A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal said. "I knew they were going to come out this week and play one of their best games."
Baylor also ended an 11-game skid in the Big 12 and beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 1998, a 33-30 victory over 20th-ranked North Carolina State. The Bears are 38-143-5 against Top 25 teams.
This was an especially sweet night for Baylor after allowing a touchdown in the final minute of a 26-25 loss to Iowa State last week. Not to mention the years of futility against Texas A&M and nearly every other team in the Big 12 since the league formed in
With the win, Baylor improved to 6-63 in Big 12 play.
Playing in relief of injured starter Dane King, Bell came through with a remarkable performance in his first start since the final two games of last season.
The sophomore from nearby China Spring completed 32-of-50 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns, two to Zeigler, who caught 12 passes for 121 yards.
"Our guys have always had confidence in Shawn," Morriss said. "He's a good leader and extremely composed in games like this. He handled that like an old veteran."
The loss takes much of the steam out of the Aggies' matchup with No. 2 Oklahoma in College Station next Saturday. It would have been a showdown of unbeaten teams in the Big 12 South.
Not anymore. Baylor put an end to all the Aggies' big plans.
McNeal committed his first two turnovers of the season in the loss, throwing an interception and losing a fumble. He had been the only starting quarterback in Division I-A without an interception thrown this season.
McNeal finished 20-of-31 for 268 yards with two touchdowns. He was sacked a season-high four times -- he'd only been dropped five times coming into the game.
Baylor rallied from a 10-point deficit at halftime and came back to tie the game four times in the second half.
Zeigler hauled in a 32-yard catch with just under six minutes left, streaking down the sideline for a touchdown that tied the game at 20.
McNeal responded quickly, finding Chad Schroeder way behind the Baylor defense for a 49-yard touchdown pass just four plays and 58 seconds later.
But Willie Andrews returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards to give the Bears excellent field position.
Bell and Co. took over from there.
The Bears went 41 yards in eight plays, with Bell capping the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Trent Shelton to tie the game at 27 and send the game into an extra period.
"I guess it really is 'on any given Saturday,'" said A&M tailback Courtney Lewis, who ran for 100 yards. "They just wanted it more than we did."
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