7:00 PM ET, October 16, 2004
LEWIS FIELD, STILLWATER, OK
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- As if Reggie McNeal didn't do enough on his own, he also got a big assist from Terrence Murphy.
McNeal threw two touchdown passes -- one on a desperation pass tipped by Murphy to DeQawn Mobley -- and ran for two more scores to help Texas A&M (No. 23 AP) beat Oklahoma State (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) 36-20 on Saturday night.
The Aggies bolted out to a 20-0 lead as Oklahoma State made uncharacteristic mistakes with a string of early penalties and turnovers.
"It was tough," linebacker Lawrence Pinson said. "It seemed like everything that could happen bad went bad."
After Oklahoma State quarterback Donovan Woods cut it to 20-6 with a 2-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds left in the second quarter, McNeal launched a 55-yard touchdown pass to Mobley on the final play of the half.
McNeal let loose the high-arcing pass and Murphy leaped inside the 5 to tip the ball to Mobley, who dived to catch it in the end zone.
Coach Dennis Franchione said the Aggies (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) practice the play, called 8-69 Hail Mary, every Thursday, and McNeal said they're successful on about three out of every four attempts.
"The Hail Mary was big, real big," McNeal said. "It took the fans and them out of the game."
It was set up after Taylor Schuster picked up a third-down fumble by McNeal and advanced it for a first down. Then Murphy, who has a 41½-inch vertical leap, did his part.
The pass gave the Aggies a 27-6 lead and took the Cowboys (5-1, 2-1) out of their run-first game plan.
"It hurt," Cowboys running back Vernand Morency said. "It hit us real hard."
McNeal added a 25-yard TD pass to Murphy on the Aggies' first possession of the second half and a 52-yard connection between the two set up a 25-yard field goal by Todd Pegram that made it 36-6 midway through the third quarter. Murphy finished with five catches for 104 yards.
"As an offense, we come out and feel like we can't be stopped," McNeal said.
Morency scored on a 1-yard dive on the first play of the fourth quarter and Billy Bajema caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Woods as the Cowboys pulled to 36-20 with 8:58 to play, but they could get no closer.
"We made a lot of mistakes," Pinson said. "Just the position we were put in on defense, anytime you've got a team like that and you're on your heels trying to fight back, it's tough."
McNeal was 19-of-25 for 288 yards and ran for 98 yards for the Aggies, who recorded their first five-game winning streak since opening the 2001 season 5-0. They're tied for the Big 12 South lead with Oklahoma.
Morency, who entered the game as the nation's leading rusher with 173.8 yards per game, had 111 yards on 28 carries but also lost his first two fumbles of the season on consecutive possessions in the first half. Another drive stalled after a holding penalty, and A&M took advantage of the mistakes.
"We did things out there that's not us, and they capitalized on them," Morency said.
The Cowboys struggled to contain McNeal, who entered the game as the only NCAA quarterback averaging at least 70 yards rushing and 200 yards passing.
"They had a nice scheme on offense to allow him to dodge and dart and make some plays with his feet," said Cowboys coach Les Miles. "I was impressed with McNeal."
McNeal had touchdown runs of 24 and 3 yards and fullback Keith Joseph added a 3-yard dive as the Aggies scored on three of their first four possessions.
Woods finished with 202 yards on 15-for-26 passing.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-14||10-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||2-3|
|TD||7:30||REGGIE MCNEAL 24 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||1:54||KEITH JOSEPH 3 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 20 yards.
|TD||12:42||REGGIE MCNEAL 3 YD RUN (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 50 yards.
|TD||0:33||DONOVAN WOODS 2 YD RUN (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||0:00||DEQAWN MOBLEY 55 YD PASS FROM REGGIE MCNEAL (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||12:15||TERRENCE MURPHY 25 YD PASS FROM REGGIE MCNEAL (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||6:03||TODD PEGRAM 25 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||14:57||VERNAND MORENCY 1 YD RUN (JASON RICKS KICK)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 89 yards.
|TD||8:58||BILLY BAJEMA 4 YD PASS FROM DONOVAN WOODS (JASON RICKS KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 85 yards.