Aggies on course for bowl berth, Big 12 title game

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Bobby Purify lunged forward, Lee Foliaki went for the ball and suddenly a mosh pit developed on the

Foliaki somehow ended up with the ball in the scrum. He was still a little dazed when he got up off the turf, wondering why the officials had huddled near him.

"Then I saw our sideline get on the field," Foliaki said, "so I guess the game was over. Lucky play to me, I guess."

Foliaki recovered his second fumble of the game after Todd Pegram kicked a 19-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime, giving Texas A&M (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) a thrilling 29-26 victory over Colorado on Saturday.

Reggie McNeal finished with 382 yards of offense and Courtney Lewis scored two touchdowns, leading the Aggies to their sixth consecutive win. It's A&M's longest win streak since 1998, when the Aggies won their only Big 12 championship.

"To have a magical season," A&M coach Dennis Franchione said, "you have to have a game like this somewhere along the way."

The Aggies (6-1, 4-0 Big 12) now have enough wins to be eligible for their first bowl berth since going to the 2001 Galleryfurniture.com bowl. With lowly Baylor up next week, A&M appears to be headed toward a showdown for first place in the Big 12 South against No. 2 Oklahoma on Nov. 6.

That would give the Aggies a chance to avenge a school and Big 12-record 77-point loss to the Sooners last season.

"I'm not going to talk about any games that are two weeks from now," Franchione said. "I know that's not what you all want to hear about -- one at a time -- but you can't play any of those others before you play the next one."

Colorado (4-3, 1-3) came very close to thwarting A&M's big plans.

The Buffs led for much of the game, taking a 19-7 lead early in the third quarter on Joel Klatt's 24-yard touchdown pass to Evan Judge.

But Colorado coach Gary Barnett decided to go for a 2-point conversion instead of an extra-point attempt. The pass failed, and
Barnett's call came back to haunt the Buffs later.

"I think we knew what we had to do and we wanted to get to 21 (points)," Barnett said. "I'd do it again. We had a good play called, but we just dropped the ball."

Lewis scored on a 2-yard dive with just over 11 minutes left to give the Aggies a 20-19 lead, and Pegram's 34-yard field goal about seven minutes later increased the lead to four points.

Colorado responded with a 13-play, 82-yard drive, highlighted by Dusty Sprague's leaping 34-yard catch at the A&M 12. Three plays later, Purify capped the drive with a 1-yard dive to give the Buffs a 26-23 lead.

McNeal had one more chance to rescue the Aggies, and he delivered.

He led A&M on an 80-yard drive to set up Pegram's 20-yard field goal as the clock expired, sending the game into overtime.

After Pegram made his fifth field goal of the game to start the extra period, Foliaki ended it on the second play of Colorado's possession by poking the ball from Purify.

Foliaki's recovery set off a wild celebration at Kyle Field.

A&M's players stormed the field, while Purify and some of his teammates laid on the turf in disbelief.

It was an especially sweet moment for the linebacker, who signed with Colorado as a high school star out of Euless, Texas in 2001.

He didn't qualify academically, though, and went to Butler County (Kan.) Community College for a couple of years before signing with A&M in the spring.

"It feels real great to be here," Foliaki said. "I wanted to come in and contribute. I knew I could come in here and work hard to learn the system."

McNeal rushed for a career-high 139 yards on 22 carries, and completed 23 of 38 passes for 243 yards.

After struggling in the first half against the Big 12's 11th-ranked defense, McNeal and Co. finally started clicking after halftime. The Aggies scored on all five of their second-half possessions.

"I don't think he had his best game today, but gosh -- he made a lot of plays," Franchione said. McNeal "is just a weapon that is really good to have on my side."

The 6-foot-2 junior quarterback also set a Big 12 record with 195 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. That streak breaks Kliff Kingsbury's mark of 179 in 2002 for Texas Tech.

Purify led Colorado with 130 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. Klatt went 25-of-42 for 346 yards and two touchdowns, both to Evan Judge. Sprague added 101 yards on eight receptions.

"We put points on the board and they fought back right away," Klatt said. "Our guys just fought back so gallantly. I'm very disappointed right now with the way it ended."

Colorado has now lost six straight to Big 12 South teams.


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