Longhorns wear down Aggies
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Freshman Cedric Benson wore down Texas A&M and the fifth-ranked Longhorns kept their Bowl Championship Series hopes alive.
Benson rushed for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Tony Jeffery returned a blocked punt for a score as Texas (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) captured a 21-7 win over Texas A&M in a defensive struggle.
The largest crowd ever to see a football game in Texas -- 87,555 -- was kept in suspense until the closing minutes when a 31-yard punt by A&M's Cody Scates into the wind gave the Longhorns their chance.
Following the short kick, the Longhorns, working with their backs to wind gusts up to 20 mph, completed a 35-yard drive with Benson's 5-yard touchdown run with 7:22 left to take a 14-7 lead.
Chris Simms, who was an uncharacteristic 16-of-33 for 138 yards, put the Longhorns into position with an 11-yard pass to Bo Scaife.
"This is the kind of game where you just have to grind it out and make no mistakes," Simms said.
Benson added a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:15 remaining after the Aggies (7-4, 4-4) tried a desperation fourth-down pass from their own 19. It was intercepted by Everick Rawls and returned 15 yards to set up Benson's second score.
"We played really good against a good opponent," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Offensively, we didn't panic. We didn't turn the ball over."
Benson, limited to six yards on 11 carries in the first half, carried 27 times for 79 yards. Although he missed out on becoming Texas' seventh consecutive 1,000-yard rusher, he gained 24 yards in the winning drive that kept the Longhorns' hopes alive for a BCS bowl game.
"Every drive we had in the second half got longer as the game went on," Benson said. "It never got easier, but I did have a few more places to run in the second half. In these kind of games whoever is toughest, longest wins."
The only scoring in the first half came when Rod Babers blocked a punt -- his second in as many games -- by Scates and Jeffery returned it 23 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Keith Joseph scored on a four-yard run with 10:34 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The touchdown was set up by a 37-yard punt return by Mickey Jones.
Joseph had 23 carries for 71 yards playing in place of leading rusher Derek Farmer, who was out with a knee injury.
"The defense did their part, but the offense seemed to be looking around to see who was going to make big plays," Aggies receiver Mickey Jones said.
A&M's Mark Farris completed just 16-of-37 passes for 123 yards and was intercepted twice.
The Longhorns won their sixth straight game this season and improved to 69-34-5 in the series. The victory was Texas' first at Kyle Field -- one of the toughest venues in college football -- since 1995 and the second since 1983.
The Aggies lost at home for the first time this season.