During the entire timeout following Texas A&M’s final touchdown,
University of Texas cornerback Mark Berry was envisioning how he – all by himself – was going to stop the Aggies’ two-point conversion try.
“I was visualizing the play, ” Berry said. “I felt for some reason they would be coming toward me. I wanted to be the one to make the play. I wanted them to run to my side.”
Sort of wishful thinking for a cornerback, especially considering that A&M had blistered the left side of the Texas defense (away from Berry’s side) with the option all day.
But for some reason, Berry figured the Aggies would go right.
And he was right. Berry nailed tailback Darren Lewis behind the line to preserve Texas’ 28-27 victory.
“I anticipated it, I saw it, ” Berry said. “It was a dream come true. I’m happy now. Very, very happy.”
The Aggies, instead of running the option to their left or weak side, chose a dive option to the strong side. Texas anticipated a sweep and had its linebackers blitzing.
Berry’s assignment was to play the tight end man-to-man and contain the run. He shed the block of tight end Dennis Ransom, then headed for Lewis, who had just received the pitch from qurterback Bucky Richardson.
Texas middle linebacker Brian Jones had blown past his blocker – fullback Robert Wilson – and hurried Richardson into an earlier and deeper pitch to Lewis than he would have liked.
“When I got to Darren, I could see it in his eyes, ” Berry said. “He had nowhere to go but over me. We’re good friends, but this time I won.”
It seemed ironic that Lewis, who scored three touchdowns and rushed for 150 yards, was the one who was stopped short.
“That was the only good tackle we got on Lewis all day, ” Texas Coach David McWilliams said. “I’m glad it was that one.”
NOTES – Lewis and Berry grew up together in Dallas, playing youth football together before Lewis went to Carter High School and Berry to Hillcrest. In the offseason, the two get together when they’re home. After Saturday’s game, Berry sought out Lewis.
“I sure hate he was out of the Heisman race, ” Berry said. “I gave him a big hug and told him we’d see each other in the pros.”
Lewis did end his regular-season career on a high note. He moved up to fifth on the the NCAA all-time rushing list with 5,012 yards. He finished the season with 1,691 yards, 103 short of the Southwest Conference record held by former Texas great Earl Campbell.
Texas offensive tackle Stan Thomas, never known to be the shy, soft-spoken type, let the Aggies have it after the game. He and Texas A&M linebacker Anthony Williams were having a verbal war last week, and Thomas had the edge in Saturday’s action.
Here are a few of Thomas’ lines about his favorite team, the Aggies:
“I hate the Aggies. I’ll die hating the Aggies. I was hoping Coach McWilliams would call a timeout there at the end to get one more play at them.”
On his bet with Williams that the loser of the game would have to shave his head: “I should have made the bet, but Coach McWilliams is kind of down on us doing that. Knowing the way the NCAA is, I probably would end up being ineligible. But I’d like them all to shave their heads, even Coach Slocum.”
Thomas, kicked out of last week’s Baylor game after he got caught throwing a punch, said the Aggies were trying to set him up for the same thing.
“Every defensive linemen, every defensive player was coming up to me after every play calling my name and pointing at me, ” Thomas said. “They were pushing me, lying on top of me when I was on the ground. It was hard for me not to retaliate. But I learned my lesson.”
Brian Jones, on the other side of the post-game media area, got in a few jabs at the Miami Hurricanes, Texas’ next opponent. The Hurricanes have apparently been saying they’d prefer to play in the Orange Bowl against No. 1 Colorado rather than the Cotton.
“I really don’t care how they feel, ” said Jones. “Nobody’s begging them to come to the Cotton Bowl. But if they come in with that attitude, then they’ll get waxed like everybody else did against us this year.”
There was no way Texas fans could have pulled down the Memorial Stadium goalposts Saturday afternoon. For one, the posts were greased. And two, there were 50 armed members of the University of Texas police department who came down on the field with about two minutes left solely to guard them.