Simms, Williams lead Texas to third straight win over A&MPosted: Friday November 29, 2002 4:01 PM
Updated: Friday November 29, 2002 7:35 PM
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Chris Simms won't win the Heisman Trophy, a national championship or even a Big 12 title.
Instead, he and Texas will have to be satisfied with doing something no Texas quarterback had done in 55 years: leading the Longhorns to three straight victories over rival Texas A&M.
Simms passed for 278 yards and three touchdowns to lead 10th-ranked Texas past A&M 50-20 Friday, a result that certainly won't stem speculation that Aggies coach R.C. Slocum will be fired.
Simms was the gem of Texas' 1999 recruiting class and the failure to win the championships Texas fans expected weighed heavily on his career.
He made his final home game, in front of 83,711 at Royal-Memorial Stadium, a memorable one. He'll leave Texas 15-0 as a starter at home.
"I know everybody back home in New Jersey was watching," said Simms, whose father, Phil, helped the New York Giants win the 1987 Super Bowl. "I had to put that last one good showing on TV. It's tough to explain -- I almost started crying before the game when I had to hug my mom, but it ended up being a great day."
The game was played four days after A&M freshman defensive tackle Brandon Fails died after collapsing in his dorm. Aggies players wore stickers on their helmets with his No. 89.
Fails will be buried Saturday.
"The first day was hard, and we knew we had to focus on this game because that's what he would have wanted," teammate Bethel Johnson said.
"Without a doubt, we had a major distraction with a young man's death," Slocum said. "I wouldn't want in any way to somehow attribute this loss to losing this player. That wouldn't be fair to his family."
Texas (10-2, 6-2) broke open a tight game with 27 straight points in the second half.
Roy Williams caught touchdown passes of 75 and 38 yards from Simms, Michael Huff returned an interception 28 yards for a TD, and Nathan Vasher went 60 yards with a punt return to score.
Texas A&M (6-6, 3-5) had six turnovers, including four by quarterback Dustin Long that led to 16 points for Texas and denied the Aggies a touchdown when the game was still close.
The blowout could mean the end of Slocum's 14-year tenure in College Station. He is the Aggies' winningest coach with 123 career wins, but he's just 29-23 over the last four years.
Slocum said he plans to keep coaching the Aggies.
"I'm disappointed -- and that's as mild as I can put it -- about this season," Slocum said. "There is no question in my mind about my intent to coach the team in a bowl game or my intent to coach next season or for many seasons to come."
Simms had to answer to his own critics, even during a season in which he passed for a school-record 24 touchdowns and 2,938 yards, second best in school history.
Simms is 3-1 as a starter against A&M. Bobby Layne led Texas to four straight victories over the Aggies in the 1940s.
"He's meant a lot to this program," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He took a lot of undue criticism, but his standards were different than others."
Texas led 9-0 in the first quarter after the Aggies turned the ball over on their first three possessions. Dusty Mangum kicked field goals of 37, 41 and 28 yards.
A&M had little trouble moving the ball early when it could hold onto it. Long, who threw an interception on the first drive, drove the Aggies 82 yards and hit Terrance Thomas for a 12-yard TD.
Texas led 9-7 after the first quarter but had just 48 total yards compared to 124 by A&M.
Simms and the Longhorns finally cranked it up in the second. B.J. Johnson took a short pass on a crossing route, broke Byron Jones' tackle and raced 44 yards for a touchdown.
After forcing a punt on A&M's next possession, Texas needed just one more play to find the end zone again. Williams burned Jones on a slant, hauled in Simms' pass on his hip and coasted in for the 75-yard score.
Texas led 23-14 in the third when faced with a fourth-and-1 from the Aggies 30. Cedric Benson, who rushed for 88 yards, broke off right tackle and ran virtually untouched to the end zone.
In the fourth, Long committed his fourth turnover when he was stripped of the ball by Cory Redding. Simms connected with Williams on a perfect strike into the end zone on the next play.
"I knew he was open when I heard the crowd go 'Oooh," Simms said.
Williams finished with 149 yards on six catches. The junior said he'll wait until after Texas' bowl game to announce whether he'll leave early for the NFL.
Longhorns fans chanted "Stay Roy, stay," after the game.