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Texas A&M stuns Kansas State 36-33 in double-OT thriller
Posted: Sunday December 06, 1998 09:23 AM
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Given a clear path to the national championship game, Kansas State blew it.
Texas A&M spoiled the second-ranked Wildcats' bid for a perfect season and a sure invitation to the Fiesta Bowl, winning 36-33 in double overtime Saturday in the Big 12 title game.
"It's a sick feeling," said quarterback Michael Bishop, whose late fumble led to the score that forced overtime. "It's a terrible situation."
Sirr Parker caught a 32-yard touchdown pass as the No. 10 Aggies, who trailed by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, exploited a suspect secondary and rallied for the upset.
"I just really think this is great," A&M coach R.C. Slocum said.
Parker was one of the smallest players on the field at 5-foot-7.
"But I was 6 feet tall on that play," Parker said. "I didn't know if I was in or not. I looked up, I saw the ref and went and celebrated with the Corps."
Kansas State began the day in third place in the Bowl Championship Series standings, and needed either Tennessee or UCLA to lose. The Wildcats got what they wanted earlier in the afternoon when UCLA lost 49-45 to Miami, but failed to capitalize.
The win by the Aggies guaranteed them a spot in either the Orange or Sugar Bowl. Kansas State must wait until Sunday to find out its fate.
"This may be, in their young lives, the most difficult thing they've had to handle," coach Bill Snyder said. "The pain that comes from this is obvious."
Tennessee, the last undefeated team left at the top of the BCS rankings, beat Mississippi State 24-14 in the SEC championship game later Saturday.
Texas A&M (11-2) tied it with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter when Parker caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Branndon Stewart and then grabbed a 2-point conversion pass. Stewart, who regained the starting job when Randy McCown broke his collarbone, was 15-for-31 for 324 yards.
"I can't recall ever being this excited about a football game," Stewart said. "I couldn't wait to play all week.
"I honestly didn't ever feel I would get the opportunity to play at A&M ever again."
Kansas State (11-1) almost won on the final play of regulation when Bishop completed a 55-yard Hail Mary pass to Everett Burnett at the 2.
After the teams traded field goals on the opening possession of overtime, Kansas State had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica.
Texas A&M was backed up, nearly out of field goal range, when Parker caught a slant pass, slipped a tackle and then dragged Lamar Chapman into the corner of the end zone.
It was the second upset in the three-year history of the Big 12 championship game. Two years ago, Texas stunned Nebraska 37-27, also in St. Louis.
For most of the game, it appeared that the biggest play came off the field. At the precise moment Kansas State was celebrating a 66-yard scoring reception by Darnell McDonald to take a 17-3 second-quarter lead, UCLA was losing to Miami.
That unannounced news prompted an even larger roar from a predominantly Kansas State crowd, secure in the knowledge that the Wildcats would get a shot at the national championship.
"I don't think it had an effect on us," offensive guard Jeremy Martin said. "Everybody in the stadium saw the score. If anything, I think it gave us a boost."
Texas A&M players also got a boost.
"That was the fans," tight end Daniel Campbell said. "We came out and proved we were the better team."
Bishop passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third. But he handed the Aggies their opportunity to force overtime when he fumbled at the Kansas State 35 with 2:26 to go, only a minute after the Wildcats had taken over on downs.
The game was worlds away from the usual blowout for Kansas State, which outscored its first 11 opponents by an average of 49-11 and entered the game with a 19-game winning streak. Kansas State hurt itself with 13 penalties for 110 yards.
Texas A&M enjoyed surprising success running the ball behind Dante Hall, who had 113 yards on 27 carries. Ja'mar Toombs' 1-yard run in the third quarter was only the third touchdown Kansas State, which held Ricky Williams to only 43 yards, has allowed on the ground all season.
The running game also produced two chip-shot field goals by Russell Bynum in the first half after drives stalled inside the Kansas State 5.
The Aggies then turned to the pass against a Kansas State secondary that showed signs of weakness in a 31-25 victory over Missouri two weeks ago. Stewart also connected for a 13-yard touchdown pass to Leroy Hodge with 9:20 to go.
Bishop completed all of his eight passes in the first half for 159 yards and touchdowns of 16 yards to tight end Justin Swift and 66 yards to McDonald.
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