COLLEGE STATION -- The Texas Longhorns gave their cross-state rival a goodbye present Thursday that added an appropriate -- and agonizing -- footnote to Texas A&M's disappointing final football season as a Big 12 member.
No. 25 Texas moved 48 yards in the final 1:48 to set up Justin Tucker's game-winning, 40-yard field goal as the time expired to give the Longhorns a 27-25 victory at Kyle Field in the 118th and final scheduled meeting between the longtime rivals before A&M joins the Southeastern Conference next season.
The drive was Texas' longest scoring march on a night when the Longhorns' offense managed just 237 yards but benefited from four A&M turnovers. It trumped an A&M rally from an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit and allowed Texas (7-4, 4-4 in Big 12) to hand A&M (6-6, 4-5) its fifth loss of the season when the Aggies squandered a double-digit lead.
"This is by far the most painful loss we've had since I've been here," A&M safety Trent Hunter, a senior team captain, said.
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A&M led this one 13-0 before Texas rallied to take control of the game with a 17-0 surge in the third quarter. Thanks to a pair of long returns, including one for a touchdown, the Longhorns needed to move just 27 yards to get those game-turning 17 points.
A&M, which began the season with a Top 10 ranking, has squandered double-digit leads in five of its losses in 2011. In those defeats, the Aggies have been outscored by a combined margin of 76-7 in the third quarter.
This time, the Aggies rallied for a fourth-quarter field goal and touchdown to take a lead heading into the final moments. But the Longhorns rallied on the final drive, aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Hunter and a 25-yard scramble by Texas quarterback Case McCoy that moved the ball into field goal range.
Texas walked away with series bragging rights for the foreseeable future in front of 88,645 at Kyle Field, the largest crowd to watch an A&M-Texas game in College Station and the second-largest crowd in stadium history.
It made for a memorable capper -- for now -- to the series, which the Texas band spelled out at halftime. While playing Thanks for the Memories, the band spelled out the word "Thanks" with the A&M logo beneath it. The dramatic second half, in which the Longhorns' final drive trumped a go-ahead, 16-yard touchdown catch by A&M receiver Jeff Fuller with 1:48 remaining, contributed to the dramatic finish.
The Aggies missed a chance for an early knockout in the first quarter. While the A&M defense forced Texas to open with five consecutive three-and-out possessions, the offense managed to build only a 10-0 lead despite starting its first four possessions within 63 yards of the Texas goal line.
Only the first march found the Longhorns' end zone, with Ben Malena hauling in a 7-yard scoring toss from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. A&M eventually built a 10-0 lead before Texas recorded its initial first down.
A&M kicker Randy Bullock, who finished with three field goals, bumped the lead to 13-0 by connecting on a career-long, 52-yarder in the second quarter.
But in keeping with a season-long theme, the Aggies found a way to surrender a double-digit lead.
A fumbled punt by A&M's Dustin Harris set the stage for Texas' first touchdown: a 41-yard toss by receiver Jaxon Shipley to tight end Blaine Irby on a trick play. That cut the lead to 13-7, which A&M stretched to 16-7 at intermission.
But momentum swung heavily in Texas' direction in the third quarter with the Longhorns' offense watching from the sidelines. Two timely returns turned the trick: a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Carrington Byndom, followed by an 81-yard punt return by freshman Quandre Diggs that gave the Longhorns a first and goal at the A&M 9-yard line.
Texas managed only three yards in three plays after Diggs' return but took its first lead of the game when Tucker split the uprights on a 23-yard field goal. At that point, Texas had been outgained in total offense by a 205-133 margin but held a 17-16 lead.
Texas needed only 24 more yards to pad the lead after Tannehill's third interception. This one wound up in the arms of safety Kenny Vaccaro and, six plays later, 252-pound tailback Cody Johnson barreled into the end zone from a yard out to give the Longhorns a 24-16 lead.
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Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760