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A&M drops No. 1

TEXAS A&M 30, OKLA. 26: Backup QB knocks off the undefeated Sooners.

©Associated Press
November 10, 2002

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Oklahoma escaped Kyle Field two years ago, clearing the way for a national title.

Oklahoma couldn't pull off another victory against Texas A&M on Saturday, losing 30-26, and now might not get another title shot.

"I never talked about it when we had a BCS future," coach Bob Stoops said. "I don't know that we have one now and don't really care."

The Sooners, who overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 35-31 in 2000, likely will drop from No.1 in the BCS standings.

The Aggies beat a No.1 team for the first time behind freshman Reggie McNeal, who came off the bench to throw for 191 yards and four touchdowns.

He threw touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to give Texas A&M its first lead. His fourth, a 40-yarder to Terrence Murphy with 1:51 left in the third, put the Aggies ahead 27-23.

After Texas A&M missed a field goal, Terrence Kiel intercepted Nate Hybl's pass with 1:12 left to seal the victory.

"I knew I would play a little, but I didn't know I'd play the whole game," McNeal said. "I was able to get in the groove. After that first touchdown, I felt this was the night."

Texas A&M broke a three-game losing streak at Kyle Field, where it lost four times during the 1990s. It blew fourth-quarter leads of 18 and 17 points in its past two home games.

The struggles put coach R.C. Slocum under pressure.

"It's been one of those challenge years," Slocum said. "It's gratifying to go in and play with the No.1 team in a game where virtually no one gave us a chance to win."

Slocum can thank his quarterback. McNeal replaced Dustin Long (3-of-9 for 28 yards and an interception) on the final possession of the first quarter.

After the Aggies went three and out on his first possession and Oklahoma drove for a field goal and a 10-0 lead, McNeal was almost unstoppable.

"He came in and created some plays on his own," said Aggies assistant Kevin Sumlin, who calls the offensive plays. "He looked first to execute the offense and put his legs into play afterward."

Texas A&M went ahead 20-13 on McNeal's 17-yard pass to Bethel Johnson to start the second half. That came three plays after McNeal's 33-yard keeper converted third and 16.

Oklahoma needed three plays to tie, with Hybl hitting Curtis Fagan for a 68-yard touchdown.

Then came McNeal's only interception, a deflected pass that Eric Bassey grabbed to set Oklahoma up at the Aggies 31 midway through the third.

The Sooners didn't get a first down, but the third of Trey DiCarlo's four field goals (a 46-yarder) gave them a 23-20 lead.

McNeal came back later in the quarter and hit Murphy for the go-ahead 40-yard touchdown.

Brent Smith fumbled on the next play to give the ball back to Texas A&M. Helped by McNeal's 24-yard keeper, it drove for Todd Pegram's 24-yard field goal for a 30-23 lead early in the fourth.

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