The tears came easily for Texas A&M--even in victory, even after a week of heartache.
With flags at half-staff and "Amazing Grace" echoing at halftime, the host Aggies beat their biggest rivals yesterday in a game played amid grief for the 12 people who died building the traditional bonfire before the Texas game.
Before a crowd of 86,128--the largest ever to see a game in Texas--Ja'Mar Toombs rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 24 Texas A&M rallied to beat the No. 7 Longhorns, 20-16. Randy McCown found Matt Bumgardner from 14 yards out for the winning touchdown with 5 minutes 2 seconds left.
Offensive lineman Chris Valletta had the names of the victims--11 Texas A&M students and a recent graduate--written on the shirt he wore under his shoulder pads.
"I hope this win can ease the pain a little bit," Valletta said. "I personally want to send this to all of them, from all of us."
Twelve doves, one for each victim of the Nov. 18 accident, were released at the stadium before the game. It looked as if the emotional week had taken its toll when the Aggies (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) fell behind, 16-6, at halftime.
Freshman quarterback Chris Simms, starting for Major Applewhite (stomach virus), led Texas to two first-half touchdowns. But Simms, who threw for 116 yards in the first half, wilted in the second under a tough Aggies pass rush as the crowd made it difficult to call plays.
Toombs, who scored Texas A&M's first touchdown on a three-yard run in the first quarter, pulled the Aggies to 16-13 with a nine-yard score in the third.
Texas (9-3, 6-2), winner of the Big 12 South Division, plays Nebraska Dec. 4 in the Big 12 title game in San Antonio.
* MARSHALL 34, OHIO 3: Chad Pennington threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns and the No. 12 Thundering Herd rolled. Marshall (11-0, 8-0 Mid-American) ran its unbeaten streak to 15 games and its home winning streak to 30, both tops in Division I-A.
Pennington joined Brigham Young's Ty Detmer and Louisville's Chris Redman as the only major college quarterbacks to surpass 1,000 career completions. Pennington's three touchdowns gave him 34 this season, tops among major college quarterbacks.
* LSU 35, ARKANSAS 10: In Baton Rouge, La., Rohan Davey threw three touchdown passes to help Louisiana State break an eight-game losing streak with a win over No. 17 Arkansas.
The Tigers (3-8, 1-7 Southeastern Conference) got hot in the second quarter when Davey stepped in at quarterback in place of Josh Booty. Davey completed 10 of 12 passes for 224 yards. The Razorbacks (7-4, 4-4) were coming off victories over Mississippi State and Tennessee.
* TCU 21, SMU 0: In Fort Worth, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 125 yards to clinch the NCAA rushing title and scored two Horned Frogs touchdowns.
A week after running for an NCAA Division I-A record 406 yards, Tomlinson needed 110 to stay ahead of Wisconsin's Ron Dayne and Virginia's Thomas Jones and become the first TCU player to lead the nation in rushing. Tomlinson finished the regular season with a school-record 1,850 yards rushing.
TCU (7-4, 5-2 Western Athletic), which already accepted an invitation to play No. 21 East Carolina in the inaugural Mobile Bowl, clinched a share of the WAC title. SMU finished 4-6, 3-3.
* USC 45, LOUISIANA TECH 19: Chad Morton rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns to help the Trojans overpower the No. 25 Bulldogs at home.
The win was the third straight for Southern California (6-6), which ended an eight-game winning streak for Louisiana Tech (8-3). Morton scored on runs of 3, 17 and 10 yards as the Trojans took a 28-13 lead with touchdowns on their first three possessions.
The Bulldogs' Tim Rattay threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns--all to James Jordan--but also threw three interceptions. He moved into second place on the NCAA's career passing list, eclipsing Redman.
CAPTION: Texas A&M defenders Ron Edwards, left, and Chad Frantzen sack Texas quarterback Chris Simms in second-half action in College Station, Tex.