Huskers Beat Aggies, Clinch Big 12 North Title

By NU Athletic Communications
Zac Taylor became Nebraska's all-time leading passer against Texas A&M on Saturday.
Zac Taylor became Nebraska's all-time leading passer against Texas A&M on Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

College Station, Texas - Zac Taylor hit Maurice Purify with a nine-yard touchdown pass with just 21 seconds left to give Nebraska the Big 12 North Division title with a 28-27 victory over No. 24 Texas A&M at Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon.

With the victory, Nebraska improved to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12, while also clinching a berth in the Big 12 Conference Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.  Texas A&M slipped to 8-3 on the year and 4-3 in the league.

Taylor capped a record-breaking day with his pass to Purify to put the exclamation point on an 11-play, 75-yard drive in just 1:36 that stopped an impressive second-half comeback by the Aggies.

Taylor, who completed 21-of-35 passes for 267 yards with two touchdowns, became the Huskers' career passing yardage leader with 5,193 yards in less than two full seasons, surpassing Dave Humm's previous mark of 5,035 yards from 1972 to 1974. Taylor's two touchdown passes also gave him 22 scoring strikes on the year, snapping Vince Ferragamo's single-season record of 20 set in 1976.

A senior from Norman, Okla., Taylor guided the Huskers to a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter and a 21-13 lead at the end of three quarters, but a pair of Texas A&M fourth-quarter touchdowns gave the Aggies a 27-21 edge with 7:28 left.

The Aggie defense, which held the Huskers to just five second-half first downs until NU's game-winning drive, came up with what appeared to be the game's biggest play on Mark Dodge's interception and 16-yard return.

Texas A&M had a chance to end it just minutes later, but Nebraska's Barry Turner blocked Layne Neumann's 42-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Aggies a 30-21 win.

Taylor and the Huskers capitalized on their final chance in a big way. The 11-play scoring drive featured three first-down connections between Taylor and wide receiver Todd Peterson, including a fourth-down grab to keep the Huskers' hopes alive.

Peterson enjoyed his best game of the season with seven catches for 82 yards and a score. Five of Peterson's second-half catches went for first downs, while the Huskers managed just nine total first downs in the second stanza. 

Marlon Lucky added a big day of his own with four catches for 56 yards, including a 42-yarder. Lucky also led the Huskers on the ground with 12 carries for 52 yards, while Brandon Jackson added nine carries for 44 yards. Cody Glenn finished the day with six carries for 25 yards and two short scoring runs early in the first half to put Nebraska in control of the game.

The Huskers got on the board first as Glenn scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day with a two-yard run to give the Huskers a 7-0 lead with 5:58 left in the first quarter.

But Texas A&M answered quickly with a big-play drive that was capped by Mike Goodson's 22-yard run to tie the game with 3:42 left in the quarter.

Glenn gave the Huskers the lead again on the first play of the second quarter with a six-yard run to make it 14-7 with 14:54 left in the first half. Then Nebraska firmed its grip on the game when Taylor hooked up with Peterson on a four-yard touchdown pass with 11 minutes remaining in the half to give NU a 21-7 edge.

The Aggies cut into Nebraska's lead just before halftime on Neumann's 37-yard field goal with 16 seconds left, but the Huskers carried a 21-10 lead into the locker room.

A&M controlled the third quarter with field position and strong defense, but the Blackshirts surrendered just a 20-yard field goal by Neumann with 16 seconds left in the period to allow the Huskers to take a 21-13 edge into the fourth quarter.

The Aggies cut into the NU lead again early in the fourth when McGee escaped on a 57-yard touchdown run to cut the Husker lead to 21-19 with 12:51 left. The Aggies went for a two-point conversion to tie the score, but the Blackshirts snuffed out the attempt to hold the lead.

Texas A&M took its first lead of the game on Jorvorskie Lane's one-yard touchdown run with 7:28 to play and converted a two-point conversion pass to make it 27-21 Aggies.

McGee produced a big game for the Aggies, completing 18-of-31 passes for 244 yards, while adding eight carries for 58 yards, including the 57-yard scoring run.

Goodson led the A&M running game with 11 carries for 80 yards and a score, while Lane managed six carries for 13 yards with a score and completed one pass for 44 yards.

Overall, A&M outgained the Huskers by producing 443 total yards, while NU managed 390 total yards, including 267 yards passing and 123 yards rushing. A&M threw for 288 yards, while rolling up 155 yards on the ground.

Stewart Bradley led the Blackshirst with seven total tackles, while Turner, Adam Carriker and Ola Dagunduro each recorded sacks. Dodge led the Aggie defense with 17 tackles and the interception.

Nebraska will close the regular season by playing host to Colorado on Friday, Nov. 24 at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. with an ABC national telecast.

Scoring (Nebraska 28, #24 Texas A&M 27)
First Quarter (NU 7, A&M 7)
NU
- Cody Glenn 2 run (Jordan Congdon kick), 5:58, NU 7-0
A&M -  Mike Goodson 22 run (Layne Neumann kick), 3:42, 7-7

Second Quarter (NU 21, A&M 10)
NU - Glenn 6 run (Congdon kick), 14:54, NU 14-7
NU - Todd Peterson 4 pass from Zac Taylor (Congdon kick), 11:00, NU 21-7
A&M - Neumann 37 field goal, 0:16, NU 21-10

Third Quarter (NU 21, A&M 13)
A&M - Neumann 20 field goal, 0:16, NU 21-13

Fourth Quarter (NU 28, A&M 27)
A&M - Stephen McGee 57 run (2PAT failed), 12:51, NU 21-19
A&M - Jorvorskie Lane 1 run (2PAT pass), 7:28, A&M 27-21
NU - Maurice Purify 9 pass from Zac Taylor (Congdon kick), 0:21, NU 28-27

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