Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It said it all.
Texas' band spelled out 'Thanks aTm" and played Thanks for the Memories as the Kyle Field crowd politely applauded. It was in many ways the warmest moment the two schools had in months, if not years.
For Longhorns and Aggies alike, the memory of the 118th and final scheduled time the two schools play will last.
It will hurt for some and be the source of bragging rights for others.
Texas' come back victory on Thanksgiving night was anything but a line in the record books that reads "Texas 27, Texas A&M 25."
The pain - the anguish - that typically lingers from every game will last a bit longer for the maroon side after Thursday. The pride - the jubilation - will last even longer for the burnt orange side.
"Sports can be really cruel," head coach Mack Brown said. "It was a great college football game. I don't think you can call either team a team that loses. We're the ones that had more points on the board."
The poignant thank you from the band at halftime might have been the final 'good' memory for Aggies as members of the Big 12 conference, witnessing yet another second half collapse in a season full of them.
"it seems like it's the same comment," coach Mike Sherman said. "This is a devastating loss for out team.
"I take nothing away from Texas, they played well, but it's a game we should have won and didn't."
Same old story for the Aggies, who once again said "Gag'em" after a first half full of "Gig'ems."
The third quarter was A&M's achilies heel, as Texas capitalized on turnovers to swing a 7-16 deficit into a 24-16 lead. Despite a double-digit lead for the 11th time this season, the Aggies squandered it with two Ryan Tannehill interceptions - one returned for a touchdown - and mistake after mistake.
The team fell to 6-6 on the season thanks to flipping the switch to 'off' during halfitime, A&M outscored 86-0 in the third quarter alone in each loss.
"Well I think if you look at the games, we definitely have turned the ball over too many times," Sherman said. "We have to make the plays we have to make."
The Aggies didn't, the Horns did, the story of the series that Texas now leads 76-37-5. Tannehill's pick-six made it a two-point game. A punt on the next drive resulted in a 81-yard Quandre Diggs return and an eventual field goal to take the lead. Yet another interception put the Longhorns in business deep in A&M territory before senior Cody Johnson punched it in for a one-yard touchdown.
All it took was 13 plays and 27 offensive yards to completely snatch momentum away in a game that the Aggies didn't need to win as much as they couldn't lose.
"It was an emotional night," quarterback Case McCoy said. "We didn't play well at all the first half but our defense got us back in it. I'm proud of how hard we fought."
Case was the latest McCoy to torment Texas A&M. After what looked to be a game winning drive following Jeff Fuller's 16 yard catch and run to muscle into the end zone, McCoy took over an offense that had struggled all night. But he made the play of the game on a 25-yard scramble right up the middle to set up Justin Tucker's game-winning 40-yard field goal.
"What a great feeling to end this rivalry and celebrate Thanksgiving," McCoy said, minutes after sharing an emotional hug with offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, who was 3-1 against A&M himself.
The Aggies end their football tenure in the Big 12 with a loss, closing the book on an era in which they won just one conference title. The first line of the fight song late in the game was perhaps the saddest, most painful of all the Lone Star Showdowns because it meant far more than 'we'll see you in 365.'
"Goodbye Texas University…" the Kyle Field crowd sang in unison, swaying in different directions for the final time in 2011. The third-longest rivalry in major college football was, suddenly, over.
"It's Texas but...," A&M running back Ben Malena, the lone bright spot on the night with 93 all-purpose yards, "We're going to the SEC, we have bigger and better things to worry about."
"It's one of the great traditions we have in college athletics," athletic director Bill Byrne remarked. "But it's just part of the change".
"It takes two to sign a contract. We've expressed sincere interest in every sport to continue the relationship. So far we've had no takers. The question doesn't need to be asked of me, it needs to be asked of (Texas AD DeLoss) Dodds."
The Longhorns seem to want no part of it. As soon as Tucker's field goal went through the uprights, they ran straight to the 'Lone Star Showdown' logo and jumped with joy. Players started an "S-E-C" chant. The Longhorn Network's twitter account provided the final salt in the wounds however.
"Goodbye and Good Luck."
As the Longhorns left Kyle Field for what could be the last time in decades, they did so with as satisfying a win as ever. The only team Texas A&M has lost to from the state in two years: the University of Texas.
Thanks for the memories indeed.