Aggies win game moved up by Hurricane Rita

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Texas A&M told its fans to stay

home, and most of them listened.

Reggie McNeal throw for 317 yards and two touchdowns, leading

Texas A&M past Texas State 44-31 in a stadium rendered unusually

bare and an area choked with evacuating traffic as Hurricane Rita

crept closer on Thursday night.

Jason Carter caught eight passes for 219 yards and a touchdown

for Texas A&M (2-1), which had asked fans outside the rural college

town to stay home so more room was available for the thousands

fleeing nearby Houston and the Gulf Coast.

The specter of Rita spurred both schools to hastily reschedule

the game from Saturday, when the Category 4 storm packing 140-mph

wind was expected to make landfall.

McNeal, who threw for 349 yards last week, became the first

quarterback at Texas A&M with consecutive 300-yard games. He said

his thoughts of driving home to Lufkin in East Texas before the

storm were tempered by the bumper-to-bumper cars crawling along the

highways outside campus.

"I'm scared about going home because there's too much traffic

and I might not make it back home on time," said McNeal, who was

13-of-24 with no interceptions.

Barrick Nealy threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns for Texas

State (2-1), which lost its hopes of an upset when the Bobcats

couldn't score after starting a drive at the Aggies 7 midway

through the fourth quarter.

Texas A&M President Robert Gates encouraged fans not living in

the College Station area to skip the game because hotels were

booked with evacuees. The announced paid attendance was 72,741, but

about half that turned out.

Students packed most of the three-tiered stands on the east side

of Kyle Field, but large clumps of empty bleachers pockmarked the

rest of the stadium. The "Aggie War Hymn," which usually causes

the stadium to physically wobble as fans sway back-and-forth,

couldn't move the west stands Thursday because there were too few


"I appreciate the people that were here," Texas A&M coach

Dennis Franchione said. "We're certainly concerned about people's

safety, but the student body was awesome."

The university canceled classes Friday but welcomed Gulf Coast

residents fleeing the storm. Just blocks from the stadium, a campus

animal clinic operated as a makeshift hospital for evacuated burn

victims from Galveston, and the school's basketball arena housed

more than 330 evacuees by late Thursday.

Evacuees at Reed Arena were given free tickets to the game.

Those who attended watched McNeal rush for 86 yards and finish with

403 total yards.

In a 66-8 rout of SMU on Saturday, McNeal finished with a

school-record 449 total yards.

Courtney Lewis ran for 136 yards and scored two touchdowns. It

marked the first time Texas A&M had a 300-yard passer, 200-yard

receiver and 100-yard rusher in the same game.

Texas A&M built a 20-0 lead before Nealy's touchdown passes to

Markee White and Blake Burton in the second quarter helped close

the gap to 27-17 at halftime. White had six catches for 146 yards

to lead Texas State.

"We weren't really frustrated," Texas A&M defensive back

Marquis Carpenter said of his team's coverage. "We couldn't find

out rhythm. We got a victory though."

Lewis widened the lead with two touchdowns runs to start the

third quarter, but the Bobcats bounced back again.

Nealy's 38-yard touchdown run closed Texas State within 13

points in the fourth quarter, but Texas State couldn't reach the

end zone after recovering a fumble deep in Texas A&M territory and

starting a drive on the 7-yard line. The Bobcats turned the ball

over on downs.

"We were hoping we would be in the ballgame in the fourth

quarter," said Nealy, who also threw two interceptions. "We were,

but we just made some mistakes down the stretch. That's how it is


Carter's catches included a 71-yard touchdown haul in which he

cut back across the field, slithered between two would-be tacklers

and dove across the goal line.

Texas A&M's Chad Schroeder caught a 44-yard touchdown pass and

ran for another, taking the snap on a fake field goal and darting

toward the pylon for a 13-yard score.

Franchione, who coached at Texas State from 1990-91, was adamant

about playing the game so that his team would not have two weeks

off in a three-week span. The Aggies were off following their

season opener at Clemson on Sept. 3.

"It's definitely going to be a game that I will remember, just

because of the events and the shortened week," Schroeder said.