AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- No. 22 Texas A&M had all the momentum at halftime of its annual showdown with No. 5 Texas. It took less than two minutes for the Longhorns to take it right back.
Trailing at the half, Texas got a blocked punt return for a touchdown and a dominant performance from its defense over the final 30 minutes in a 26-13 Big 12 Conference victory over A&M.
Texas (10-1, 7-1 Big 12 South) trailed, 13-6, at the half but got back in the game thanks to its defense and special teams. The Longhorns limited the Aggies to three plays and a punt, and Cedric Griffin scooped up the blocked punt and returned it 28 yards for a TD to tie the game, 13-13.
"It was a great day for college football, being in front of a packed house and national television with Texas A&M being ranked," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "It was an emotional game and there was a lot on the line for both teams. This team has been the most fun team I've ever been around because they don't quit, they just keep playing."
Texas A&M (7-4, 5-3 South) took the lead in the second quarter on a momentum-changing play of its own. Texas quarterback Vince Young tried to go over the top from the 2-yard line and fumbled. Jonte Buhl picked up the loose ball and raced 98 yards for a TD with just 10 seconds left in the half.
"I was very proud of our players, they really fought hard. We came up a couple of plays short but we played a really good football team," Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione said. "We came to their house and fought them right down to the end. We just have a little more work to do to get to where they are."
But Texas dominated in the second half, constantly harassing Aggies quarterback Reggie McNeal and outscoring Texas A&M, 20-0. Dusty Mangum kicked field goals of 44 and a career-long 52 yards in the third quarter and Cedric Benson capped the scoring with a one-yard TD run in the fourth period.
"Our guys got comfortable and we tweaked a little at halftime, but overall the defense put in a fantastic effort," Texas co-defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. "Up front, we were really dominating."
Texas' defense allowed only 31 yards on 25 rushes and sacked McNeal eight times. McNeal completed 20-of-38 passes for 247 yards and a TD and was intercepted once.
"UT's front four did a great job. They were getting their hands up and blocking the ball," McNeal said. "They were getting to me a little more than I was expecting or wanted them to. They did a great job up front today."
Benson, the nation's second leading rusher (159.9 yards per game), carried 36 times for 172 yards. His fourth-quarter score was the 64th rushing TD of his career, tying him for third on the all-time NCAA list with Indiana's Anthony Thompson.