Photo via YouTube/ABC broadcast
Texas and Texas A&M no longer meet regularly on the gridiron, but that doesn’t make their match-ups any less memorable.
One of the great ones came on this day 30 years ago. Texas stopped the Aggies’ winning 2-point conversion attempt to finish perfect in Southwest Conference play, 28-27.
Setting the Stage
Texas had already clinched the Southwest Conference title when it arrived in Austin on Dec. 1, 1990. Against rival Texas A&M, the Longhorns were looking to make sure they won it outright.
At 9-1 and ranked No. 5, Texas had won eight games in a row since an early-season loss to Colorado. Texas however, had lost six straight games to rival Texas A&M.
The Aggies were in the midst of a somewhat disappointing season. Texas A&M arrived with a record of 8-2-1, but had won four straight games. For a large portion of the day, Texas A&M liked its chances of beating the Longhorns for a seventh straight time.
The Deciding Moments
Texas never led in the first half, but had scored 21 straight points as the contest went to the fourth quarter. The Longhorns held a 21-14 lead after three, but it took less than two and a half minutes for the Aggies to draw even.
Darren Lewis was unstoppable for most of the day for Texas A&M. His third touchdown of the day — a 31-yard rumble with 12:35 to play — tied the game at 21 apiece. But Texas had an answer.
After starting the ensuing possession at its own 42-yard-line, Texas faced a critical 3rd-and-8. Quarterback Peter Gardere calmly stood in and found Keith Cash. Later in the drive, Gardere scrambled for an 11-yard touchdown to put Texas up 28-21 with less than nine minutes remaining.
It was the Texas A&M quarterback who would score to cap a back-and-forth second half. With less than four minutes remaining, Bucky Richardson ran 32 yards for the score. With 3:46 to go and the score 28-27, Texas A&M head coach R.C. Slocum had a decision to make.
His offense stayed on the field. Lewis rushed for 150 yards for the Aggies, but on the biggest play of the game, Texas came up huge.
Lewis took the option pitch from Richardson on the 2-point conversion try, but before he could reach the 5-yard-line, he was met by Texas’ Mark Berry. The try was no good and the Longhorns maintained their lead. The Aggies would never see the ball again.
The early parts of the contest was dominated by Texas A&M. The Aggies raced to a 14-0 lead behind Lewis touchdown runs of 17 and 12 yards.
Gardere’s first touchdown run — a 50-yard scamper on 3rd-and-short — got the Longhorns on the board in the second quarter. His 7-yard connection to Cash following a missed field goal by Texas A&M evened the game at the break.
Texas took its first lead in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Chris Samuels. The Longhorns rushed for 245 yards as a team.
Texas A&M would bounce back from the loss to top BYU in the Holiday Bowl, 65-14. The blowout of the Cougars resulted in the Aggies going from unranked prior to the bowl game to the top 15 in the final AP Poll.
As for Texas, the victory gave the Longhorns their first perfect Southwest Conference finish since 1983 — the last time they had beat Texas A&M. Texas finished a game better than Houston for the outright conference crown, but would go on to be throttled by Miami in the Cotton Bowl, 46-3.
From 1984 to 1994, Texas A&M beat Texas 10 times in 11 tries. The exception was a contest that preserved by a late failed 2-point conversion. It happened on this day three decades ago.