8:30 PM ET, September 22, 2005
Kyle Field, COLLEGE STATION, TX
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 fans.
"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 sometimes."
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-14||5-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-1|
|FG||11:14||TODD PEGRAM 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||6:32||CHAD SCHROEDER 13 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 18 yards.
|FG||1:34||TODD PEGRAM 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 13 yards.
|TD||13:30||MARKEE WHITE 6 YD PASS FROM BARRICK NEALY (STAN JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 78 yards.
|TD||12:55||JASON CARTER 71 YD PASS FROM REGGIE MCNEAL (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 88 yards.
|TD||9:57||BLAKE BURTON 18 YD PASS FROM BARRICK NEALY (STAN JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||4:04||STAN JONES 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 17 yards.
|TD||1:56||CHAD SCHROEDER 44 YD PASS FROM REGGIE MCNEAL (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||13:11||COURTNEY LEWIS 4 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||3:14||COURTNEY LEWIS 6 YD RUN (TODD PEGRAM KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||14:54||TYRONE SCOTT 17 YD PASS FROM BARRICK NEALY (STAN JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 85 yards.
|FG||11:25||TODD PEGRAM 18 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 79 yards.
|TD||9:07||BARRICK NEALY 38 YD RUN (STAN JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 78 yards.