Big 12: JaMar Toombs

Upsets abound in late Big 12 games

October, 17, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

How about a run of some remarkable upsets across the Big 12?

Colorado hung on for a wild 34-30 upset victory over Kansas. The Jayhawks had a late chance to win the game, but Dezmon Briscoe could make a catch in the Colorado end zone on the last play of the game. Briscoe somehow got open despite having four Colorado defenders in the area. But the game-winning pass hit him in the hands and glanced away.

At Ames, Iowa State claimed its first Big 12 victory since 2007 with an impressive 24-10 triumph over Baylor.

I was wondering how the Cyclones would respond after two tough losses to Kansas State and Kansas in their last two weeks.

The Cyclones got a nice lift from Jerome Tiller who completed 7-of-8 passes for 46 yards and 74 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Alexander Robinson raced for 84 yards as he continued as the Big 12's most underrated offensive weapon.

And that smoke you might be seeing rising up from south central Texas might be the reaction of Texas A&M fans putting Mike Sherman back on the hot seat after the Aggies were humiliated at Kansas State tonight, 62-14.

Daniel Thomas likely won himself a helmet sticker by rushing for 79 yards and four touchdowns. Remember, when he came into the program, a lot of people thought he would be playing at quarterback this week.

Here's a couple of statistics that will make the natives in College Station a little restless. Jerrod Johnson had no interceptions coming into tonight. He threw three tonight.

The Aggies produced minus-17 yards in 23 carries. Where have you gone Sirr Parker and Ja'Mar Toombs?

And Oklahoma State and Missouri have combined for 550 yards in the first half as the Cowboys have a 24-17 halftime lead.

It's a night for big passing and receiving statistics so far. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert passed for 259 yards in the first half as Danario Alexander has accounted for six catches for 161 yards.

Zac Robinson has been just as impressive, hitting 17-of-22 passes for 181 yards. Hubert Anyiam is doing a pretty good impression of Dez Bryant with eight receptions for 94 yards in the first half.

Parker, A&M's overtime heroics is No. 6 memory

July, 6, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

No. 6  

Yes Sirr: Parker's big catches lead A&M to 1998 championship

Date: Dec. 5, 1998
Place: TWA Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
Score: Texas A&M 36, Kansas State 33 (2 OT)

Kansas State was on the verge of the biggest triumph in school history and a likely berth in the first Bowl Championship Series national title game if the Wildcats could claim their first Big 12 title.

That excitement intensified early in the Big 12 title game against Texas A&M after the final score of Miami's 49-45 victory over UCLA was announced over the TWA Dome public-address system. That was only a couple of moments after Darnell McDonald's 66-yard touchdown reception from Michael Bishop boosted the Wildcats to a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter.

A berth in the national title game hinged on the Wildcats completing their victory over the Aggies.

But a funny thing happened after that. A&M became the rejuvenated, more focused team in the fourth quarter after the Wildcats had extended their lead to 27-12 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Bishop late in the third quarter.

A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart, forced into action because of starter Randy McCown's broken collarbone, caught fire during a wild fourth-quarter rally.

Stewart cut into the deficit 5:40 into the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown strike to Leroy Hodge to trim the KSU lead to 27-19. And he later moved the Aggies 76 yards on four plays to the Kansas State 14 before a sack by KSU linebacker Ben Leber and a fourth-down pass deflection by Damion McIntosh caused the drive to stall.

The Aggies' "Wrecking Crew" defense came up with a huge play on the ensuing possession after KSU took control with 3:26 left with hopes of running out the clock. But on the second play of the drive, Bishop was hit by A&M linebacker Warrick Holdman, forcing a fumble that was recovered by A&M linebacker Cornelius Anthony at the Wildcats' 35.

A spectacular diving catch by backup A&M wide receiver Matt Bumgardner accounted for 36 yards to the KSU 14. Two plays later, Stewart hit backup tailback Sirr Parker on a slant play for a 9-yard touchdown pass. After a timeout, Stewart and Parker connected on the two-point conversion play to tie the score with 1:05 left.

Bishop had one more chance during regulation. The Wildcats lined up for a 69-yard field goal attempt by Martin Gramatica in the closing seconds, but a delay-of-game penalty prevented them from trying the kick. Instead, Bishop lofted a "Hail Mary" play that was caught by Everett Burnett for a 55-yard gain before he was stopped at the A&M 2 on the final play of regulation.

A&M took the first possession of overtime and marched to the KSU 1 before settling for an 18-yard Russell Bynum field goal. KSU answered by gaining 21 yards on a drive that was capped by a 22-yarder by Gramatica that tied the game at 30.

Gramatica added another 25-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 33-30 lead to start the second overtime. The Aggies then lost two yards on their first play of their possession and faced a third-and-17 play after a penalty from the KSU 32.

But rather than playing to tie the game, Stewart hit Parker on another clutch slant pass. The 5-foot-7 Parker eluded Luke Butler and then streaked past Lamar Chapman en route to the right corner of the end zone. He finished with a 32-yard touchdown reception that ranks as the biggest play in A&M football history.

They said it, part I: "It's a sick feeling. It's a terrible situation," KSU quarterback Michael Bishop on the Wildcats' late collapse.

They said it, part II: "This may be, in their young lives, the most difficult thing that they've ever had to handle. The pain that comes from this is obvious," KSU coach Bill Snyder on his team's collapse at the end of regulation.

They said it, part III: "Once I caught the slant, I felt him (Butler) fall of my back. I saw I had one man to beat, so I ran for the end zone," A&M running back Sirr Parker on his game-winning TD grab.

They said it, part IV: "I love opportunities to prove people wrong. People say, 'Stewart can't do this. Stewart can't do that.' I love proving them wrong." A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart, who told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he delighted in confounding naysayers with his dramatic comeback performance.

They said it, part V: "Gimme some sugar! Whoop! Whoop!" The chant of A&M players and Coach R.C. Slocum after finishing the victory that earned them a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

Factoids: Stewart, who transferred from Tennessee after Peyton Manning beat him out for the starting job, struggled early in the KSU game. The A&M quarterback misfired on his first five passes, with one interception ... Despite his late fumble, Bishop had one of the best games of his career, passing for 324 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 101 yards ... Kansas State entered the game with a nation-best 19-game winning streak and had outscored its first 11 opponents of the season by an average margin of 49-11 ... But KSU was its own worst enemy as the Wildcats were penalized 13 times for 110 yards against the Aggies ... A&M tailback Dante Hall gashed KSU's defense for 113 yards and bullish tailback JaMar Toombs added a 1-yard TD plunge. It was only the third rushing touchdown that the Wildcats had allowed during the 1998 season ... Stewart completed just 4-of-11 passes for 89 yards and an interception through three quarters. But he was 9-of-16 for 185 yards for two TDs in the fourth quarter and finished with a career-high 324 yards after his overtime TD pass to Parker ... The Aggies claimed their first conference championship since winning the 1993 Southwest Conference title. They also denied KSU's hopes of earning its first title since claiming the Big Six Conference in 1934 ... A&M's comeback from a 15-point deficit tied the school record at the time of the game, matching the Aggies' 15-point comeback in a 1997 overtime triumph over Oklahoma State ... A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen set a Big 12 championship game record with 17 tackles.

The upshot: The victory boosted the Aggies into their first BCS bowl game in history as they advanced to the Sugar Bowl. But the Buckeyes claimed a 24-14 victory that dropped the Aggies to 11-3 for the season. A&M finished the season ranked No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll. They have finished ranked only once at the end of season since then - a No. 23 ranking after the 1999 season.

KSU's loss caused them to free-fall all the way to the Alamo Bowl, where they met Purdue. Bishop struggled with a four-interception performance as the Boilermakers escaped with a wild 37-34 upset victory. The Wildcats finished 11-2 for the season and No. 10 in the final AP poll.

Bishop finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting after the 1998 season, substantially behind winner Ricky Williams of Texas. And Nguyen's big effort in the championship game helped him claim the Lombardi and Bednarik awards as the most decorated player in A&M's Big 12 history.

The countdown:

7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, helps beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Aggies' emotional win after bonfire tragedy is No. 9 memory

June, 30, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Bonfire game shows softer side of Texas-A&M rivalry

Date: Nov. 26, 1999
Place: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Score: Texas A&M 20, Texas 16

Just eight days after the most stunning tragedy in school history, Texas A&M had to refocus to play Texas in the 106th meeting of the storied rivalry between the two bitter adversaries.

Except this time, it was a little different.

Thousands of maroon balloons filled the sky, followed by the pregame release of 12 white doves -- one for each of the 12 current and former A&M students who were killed in the bonfire collapse. Four F-16 fighters flew overhead in the missing man formation, a tribute usually saved for pilots killed in the line of duty.

Earlier in the week, A&M missed practice for two days. When the bonfire stack collapsed, A&M players helped rescuers move the logs in search of survivors.

Texas players and the Longhorn football staff held a blood drive to benefit the victims. Texas officials also canceled their annual "hex rally" before the game in favor of a unity rally that also included hundreds of A&M students.

The Aggies jumped to quick lead on a 3-yard TD run by bullish tailback Ja'Mar Toombs. But the conversion backfired when holder Mark Farris bobbled the snap, leaving kicker Shane Lechler to try an ill-advised pass that was returned 96 yards by Lee Jackson for the two-point conversion.

But heralded freshman Texas quarterback Chris Simms led a pair of scoring drives later in the first quarter that gave the Longhorns the lead. Simms was starting only because Major Applewhite was ailing with an upset stomach.

A fumble by Texas A&M quarterback Randy McCown helped the Longhorns to score their first TD, provided on a 14-yard run by Hodges Mitchell. Texas extended its lead to 16-6 later in the quarter on a 1-yard TD plunge by Chris Robertson.

The Aggies blocked a punt later in the second quarter, but were unable to score as they trailed 16-6 at the break.

Many fans who were at the game still remember the halftime presentation by both bands as the most moving part of the game. The Texas band played "Amazing Grace" and members took off their hats at the end. The A&M Band honored the bonfire victims by marching off the field without its usual musical accompaniment as the Kyle Field crowd was eerily silent.

The inspired A&M defense was the difference in the second half, limiting Texas to only two first downs as Simms struggled and was eventually replaced by Applewhite in the fourth quarter.

Toombs, rushed for 126 yards on 37 carries to lead the Aggies, gradually wore down the Longhorns in the second half. His 9-yard scoring plunge pulled the Aggies within 16-13 with 4:47 left in the third quarter.

And with 5:02 left, McCown lofted a 14-yard lob into the end zone that was snagged by his roommate Matt Bumgardner for the game-winning score.

The Aggies' defense took care of the rest. With 23 seconds left in the game, cornerback Jay Brooks forced a midfield fumble by Applewhite. Linebacker Brian Gamble recovered the fumble to seal the victory.

A&M offensive lineman Chris Valletta wore a T-shirt with the names of the 11 A&M students and one former student under his pads and jersey.

"We had the thought and memory of those 12 who died in our hearts and minds every single play," Valletta told reporters after the game. "I hope this can ease the pain a little bit."

(Read full post)