Bears gig Aggies in overtime, 35-34Nov. 2, 2004
By DREW WILLIAMSON, sports writer
The Baylor Bears shocked the city, state and nation Saturday night, stunning No. 16 Texas A&M University 35-34 in overtime. Sophomore receiver Dominique Zeigler caught a 12-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Shawn Bell to cut the lead to one and then the pair hooked up just seconds later on a risky two-point conversion call, giving the Bears their first win over the Aggies since 1985.
"I think we should have had 14 points at halftime," head Coach Guy Morriss said. "I don't know if I was very frustrated because the kids were really playing hard. We had a good up-beat locker room at halftime."
After blocking a punt early in the third quarter, the Bears were able to cut the lead to 13-6 with a field goal.
The next possession, Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal threw a deep ball into double coverage that was intercepted by freshman cornerback Braelon Davis and brought back to the Texas A&M 36.
The Aggies tried once more to put the Bears away, after scoring on a halfback pass to go up 20-13 early in the fourth quarter, but the Bears clawed their way back in the game again.
After sophomore cornerback James Todd recovered a fumble at midfield the Bears had yet another chance to answer.
With just under six minutes remaining, Bell found Zeigler running toward the sideline and hit him in stride. Miraculously, the wiry receiver was able to tightrope his way down the sideline, never stepping out of bounds, to reach the end zone, making the score 20-20.
"Ever since I've been [at Baylor] everyone gets on me for being little," Zeigler said. "So it finally paid off to be a 170 pounds and sneak down the sideline without falling out of bounds."
The Aggies stormed right back, as McNeal connected with receiver Chad Schroeder on a 49-yard touchdown to put the Aggies up 27-20 less than one minute after Baylor had tied the score at 20.
Immediately after the score, Baylor defensive back Willie Andrews answered by taking the ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the Texas A&M 41-yard line, setting the Bears up again with great field position. Andrews finished the game with 164 total yards and was named Special Teams Player of the Week by the league office Monday.
"When we get the ball in good field position, I feel [the offense] can do anything," sophomore receiver Trent Shelton said. "[Justin] Crooks stepped up and Willie [Andrews] had some great returns. I mean if they play like that and give us good field position, we should be able to score every time."
Matching the Aggies punch for punch, the Bears marched down the short field and converted on several huge plays, including a crucial fourth down conversion, which led to Bell finding Shelton for a game-tying six-yard touchdown with only three minutes remaining.
Both teams traded possessions before eventually heading into overtime.
The Bears elected to play defense first, but it took the Aggies only three plays to punch it in on a 16-yard run by running back Keith Joseph, silencing the Baylor crowd.
But the Bears only needed to fight back one last time, as Morriss decided the Bears were going to play for the win after Bell's fourth touchdown pass of the night cut the lead to one.
"Coach asked us if we wanted to win this thing right now and of course everybody wanted it," Bell said. "We had the opportunity to win the game and not send it into any more overtimes and luckily we made the play."
The stadium immediately erupted after Zeigler caught the game winning pass, as the entire student section swarmed the field to congratulate the players and take down the goal post at the south end of the stadium.
Bell, stepping in for injured starter Dane King, went 32-50 for 262 yards in his first start of the season, including four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Bell was subsequently named Offensive Player of the Week by the Dallas Morning News for his performance on Saturday.
"He [Bell] did a great job tonight," Morriss said. " He was composed throughout the whole night, nothing but praise for him."
McNeal finished 20-31 for 268 yards to go along with two touchdown passes and one interception. The interception was McNeal's first this season. More importantly, the Bears held McNeal, the Aggies leading rusher coming into the game, to just 43 yards on the ground.
Junior linebacker Colin Allred, who finished second on the team with nine
tackles, credited a solid game plan for slowing down the quick-footed quarterback.
"Reggie McNeal is probably the best quarterback in the Big 12 in my opinion," Allred said. "We had a game plan in place to keep him inside the pocket to keep
him from getting outside, and that's what we were able to do tonight."
Zeigler, who had to miss two days of practice this week due to family issues, finished with 12 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with his game winning two-point conversion.
"[Missing practice] didn't seem to bother him at all, as a matter of fact, I might send him home for two days next week," Morriss joked.
The Bears put together a solid performance and Morriss was glad to see his team finally show some of the things he has been trying to install in this young group, including a "gunslinger attitude," which Morriss has preached to his team for some time now.
"It was time to just let it all hang out and go in with a gunslinger attitude, and we've been talking to them about that, but for some reason tonight it just clicked," Morriss said. "I think it's starting to soak in I guess. We've been waiting for a game like this I think. This will help our confidence more than anything and will make believers out of those that were doubting a little bit, and I hope will grow from this."
The victory put the Bears at 3-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play. Up next for the Bears, they will travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech University this Saturday at 1 p.m.