U suffers narrow loss to A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas-Although the first half was chock-full of big plays that stung the U football team, it was the little things that allowed Texas A&M to narrowly escape with a 28-26 victory.

In the first half it seemed that the Aggies (2-0) would rout the Utes (1-1), as Texas A&M jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead.

Early on, Aggie wide receiver Terrence Murphy took an end around 80 yards to paydirt for the first score of the game.

Turnovers killed the Utes in the first half, beginning with a fumble by Bo Nagahi, who was playing offense for the first time this season and was obviously out of place.

Nagahi was inserted into the rotation after lead wide receiver Paris Warren was suspended prior to the team’s trip.

“That is the first time he has touched the ball on offense,” U coach Urban Meyer said.

After the Aggies scored their second touchdown, Ute wide receiver Steven Savoy fumbled deep in the Utes’ territory; Texas A&M recovered and capitalized with an easy score.

“If [Savoy] would have caught that ball, there was nobody within 40 yards of him,” Meyer said.

The turnovers hurt the Utes in a big way in the first half.

“We turned the ball over, and that was one of our keys to victory to not turn it over,” Meyer said. “But we caused some later on, so it turned out OK.”

Even though the big plays buried the Utes, the small errors-such as snapping the ball-hurt the team during both halves of play.

The problems may have been due to the 74,000-plus fans who were in attendance at Kyle Field, but it was not an excuse for continuous missed snaps and off-target throws.

In the first half, U center Max Petersen had several high snaps, including one that stalled a drive in Aggie territory, because the snap flew 20 yards behind Ute quarterback Brett Elliott’s head.

However, the Utes overcame such deficiencies and rallied in the second half. They almost seemed like a new team on both sides of the ball.

“On defense, we just decided to settle in and make plays,” U linebacker Corey Dodds said.

The Utes came out on offense in the second half with one thing in mind-give the ball to running back Brandon Warfield.

“Brandon Warfield and the offensive line was the reason for the difference in the second half,” Meyer said.

In the first half, Warfield carried the ball nine time for a modest 40 yards.

But in the second half, it was a completely different story.

Carrying the ball 27 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns, Warfield led the Utes back into the game almost single-handedly.

“He’s just an unbelievable player,” Meyer said. “He has unbelievable kind of character and the kind of human being and player he is, is just awesome. He just hammers it in there. They couldn’t stop him all day long-they could not stop our running game.”

Warfield was playing in front of his family, who live in Crockett, Texas, which is just 60 miles from College Station.

“It was great to play in front of my family,” Warfield said.

On the first drive of the second half, the Utes marched down the field and scored a touchdown, but a missed snap on the extra point caused kicker Bryan Borreson to completely miss the chip shot.

The kick would prove to play a huge factor at the end of the game.

Even though Warfield dominated the A&M defense throughout the second half, the passing game was off, with Elliott throwing the ball everywhere but to the receivers.

The mistakes hurt the Utes, but Warfield still carried the team, along with a couple big catches by wide receiver John Madsen.

Catching one pass to set a up a touchdown to put the Utes within eight, Madsen was put in the limelight in the waning moments of the game.

With fewer than 30 seconds left, on first down, Elliott scrambled out of the pocket and threw to an open Madsen.

“Nobody had deep coverage and all I was thinking about was not to drop the ball,” Madsen said.

Madsen did not drop the ball and trotted into the end zone-and suddenly the Utes were within two with just eight seconds left to play.

The two-point conversion attempt would not have been needed if the snap was good-and if Borreson would have made the earlier extra point. Once again, the little things caught up to the Utes.

The two-point play had been practiced many times before.

“We practice the two-point play about 20 times a game,” Madsen said.

The play was called for four receivers to be set on Elliott’s right and a rollout play to give the quarterback the option to run or pass.

“That play is our bread and butter,” Meyer said. “I was shocked that it didn’t work.”

But Elliott did not find anyone open and attempted to run, but was crushed short of the goal line and was injured.

The injury was serious, as Elliott broke the wrist of his throwing hand on the play and the Utes were one yard short of sending the game into overtime.

“It is so disappointing,” Madsen said. “We were only one yard away.”

The two-point play seemed automatic for those on the sidelines as well. “I thought we were going to get it and I already had my helmet on to play defense in overtime,” Dodds said.

But despite losing by just two in an extremely hostile environment, the Utes didn’t go away from Kyle Field feeling too good about the weekend.

“There are no moral victories,” Madsen said.

Meyer was also disappointed, and knows what needs to be done in order for the team to progress.

“Bottom line is, we lost the game,” Meyer said. “I’m disappointed. The players are disappointed to lose a game like this on a two-point play.”

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Box Score

Utah . . . . . . . . . . . . .26Texas A&M. . . . . . .28

First QuarterTXA-9:56, T. Murphy 80 run (Pegram kick). TXA-4:42, K. Joseph 1 run (Pegram kick).

Second QuarterTXA-10:41, Q. Germany 4 pass from McNeal (Pegram kick).

Third QuarterUtah-10:48, B. Warfield 2 run (Borreson kick failed). Utah-5:42, B. Warfield 6 run (Borreson kick).

fourth QuarterTXA-13:07, C. Lewis 28 run (Pegram kick).Utah-6:13, B. Warfield 1 run (Borreson kick).Utah-0:08, J. Madsen 45 pass from Elliott (Elliott rush failed).

STATISTICSPassing – Utah 210: Elliott 18-40-0-210-1. UNLV 145: McNeal 12-18-0-145-1.

Rushing – Utah 205: Warfield 36-181, Elliott 16-38, Savoy 2-5. UNLV 223: Lewis 16-100, Murphy 1-80, Farmer 5-35.

Receiving – Utah: Madsen 2-82, Moa 4-35, Savoy 4-34, LaTendresse 3-25, Wright 3-15, Nagahi 1-13. UNLV: Murphy 4-76, J. Taylor 6-59, E. Taylor 1-6, Germany 1-4.

TIME: 3:30ATTENDANCE: 74,019

Mountain West Conference

Scoreboard Weekend of Sept. 5-Sept. 7

San Diego St. . . . . . .13Ohio State. . . . . . . . .16SDSU: 1-1 OSU: 2-0

Colorado St. . . . . . .23California . . . . . . . . . 21CSU: 1-1 UCB: 1-2

UNLV. . . . . . . . . . . . .24Kansas. . . . . . . . . . . 46UNLV: 1-1 KU: 1-1

BYU. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18USC . . . . . . . . . . . . 35BYU: 1-1 USC: 2-0

Air Force . . . . . . . . 22N’Western. . . . . . . . . 21AFA: 2-0 NWU: 1-1

Wyoming. . . . . . . . . . 24Oklahoma St . . . . . 48WYO: 1-1 OSU: 1-1

New Mexico. . . . . . . 28Texas Tech. . . . . . . 42UNM: 1-1 TTU: 2-0