7:00 PM ET, September 18, 2004
Kyle Field, COLLEGE STATION, TX
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Ticker) -- Courtney Lewis and Reggie McNeal got Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione a win against a ranked opponent.
Lewis ran 28 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback McNeal added 129 yards on 17 carries as the Aggies cruised to a 27-6 victory over No. 25 Clemson.
It is the first win over a ranked opponent in the Franchione era at College Station. The Aggies were 0-7 against top-25 teams since Franchione took over the program at the beginning of last season.
"I'm real proud of our team," Franchione said. "And I'm really proud of our coaching staff. It was a team effort all the way across the board.
"You beat a top 25 team at home and get yourself to 2-1 going into open day and getting ready for Big 12 play."
Texas A&M (2-1) took advantage of two first-half interceptions by Charlie Whitehurst - both coming off the hands of Clemson receivers - to take command.
Offensively, we just shot ourselves in the foot," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "You can't turn the ball over and win any games, against Texas A&M or anyone else. We turned the ball over on offense, didn't put ourselves in position on defense, and didn't force any turnovers."
"We just didn't make plays," Whitehurst said. "I think that's the bottom line. First and foremost, if I can play to the best of my ability this stuff doesn't happen. We just had guys not show up and I'm probably number one on that list.
After defensive back Japhus Brown picked off Whitehurst, Lewis capped a 69-yard drive -- highlighted by his 44-yard scamper -- with one-yard plunge into the end zone early in the second quarter to open the scoring.
The sophomore tailback made it 14-0 as he ran 29 yards untouched into the end zone with 7:01 left in the second. The Tigers answered right back as Whitehurst hit tight end Ben Hall with a 15-yard TD pass but Stephen Furr missed the extra-point attempt.
The team's leading rusher from last season, Lewis was limited to 10 carries in the opener to Utah, and was out of the Wyoming game because of injury.
"Last week when I was at home watching the game I had a little urge to come back out and make a statement that I'm still here; still have my running ability no matter what happens," Lewis said.
McNeal passed for 56 yards and ran for 32 in a nine-play, 99-yard drive that Jason Carter capped by scoring from three yards out to give Clemson a 24-6 advantage with 9:55 left in the third quarter.
"We started pounding on them and we could tell they were getting worn down so we just continued to execute our offense and just played together," said McNeal, who had 307 total yards in the game.
Texas A&M rushed for 324 yards in the game, the most by the Aggies since 1997.
Clemson (1-2) struggled to recover from its last-second, 28-24 loss to Georgia Tech last week in which it blew a 10-point lead in the final two minutes.
It is just the second time in Bowden's tenure that the Tigers lost following a defeat of seven or fewer points, falling to 9-2 in those games.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-11||5-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|TD||12:43||COURTNEY LEWIS 1 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 69 yards.
|TD||7:01||COURTNEY LEWIS 29 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||5:26||BEN HALL 15 YD PASS FROM CHARLIE WHITEHURST (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 59 yards.
|FG||2:13||TODD PEGRAM 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yards.
|TD||9:55||JASON CARTER 3 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 99 yards.
|FG||8:43||TODD PEGRAM 36 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 60 yards.