Sept. 18, 2004
By JOEL ANDERSONAP Sports Writer
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Courtney Lewis rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns and Reggie McNeal added 307 total yards, leading Texas A&M to a surprising 27-6 rout of Clemson on Saturday night.
Lewis bounced back with an impressive performance after injuries forced him to miss last week’s game against Wyoming, McNeal skillfully directed the offense, and the Aggies’ defense overwhelmed Clemson’s no-huddle offense.
Thought to be a contender for the ACC title this season, Clemson (1-2) took its second straight defeat to an unranked team. The Tigers were ranked No. 20 before last week’s loss to Georgia Tech.
The Aggies (2-1) may finally be able to reclaim the “Wrecking Crew” moniker after hounding Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst into one of his worst performances. A&M coach Dennis Franchione had stripped his defense of the longtime nickname following a string of embarrassing performances last season.
Whitehurst, the ACC’s leading passer, finished 20-of-36 for 192 yards with three interceptions and a touchdown. He was sacked five times and chased around all night by Aggies.
Clemson was held to 250 yards, its lowest total since getting 199 in a loss to Georgia in the 2003 season opener.
A&M’s offense was almost as impressive as its offense, rolling up more than 500 yards and committing no turnovers for a second straight week.
Lewis, who last year became the first 1,000-yard rusher at A&M since Dante Hall in 1998, had his first 100-yard game of the season. McNeal ran for a career-high 129 yards and completed 14 of 26 passes for 178 yards.
Lewis scored both touchdowns within a five-minute span of the second quarter. The first was a 1-yard plunge for a 7-0 lead and the next came on a 29-yard sprint down the middle of the field to extend the lead to 14 points.
Clemson got on the board late in the second quarter when Whitehurst found Ben Hall for a 15-yard touchdown pass to cap a four-play, 59-yard drive. Stephen Furr missed the extra point, making it 14-6.
Just before halftime, A&M freshman Eric Mayes returned a punt 49 yards to the Clemson 21 and Eric Pegram kicked a 32-yard field goal four plays later to extend the Aggies’ lead to 17-6.
On their first drive of the second half, the Aggies marched 99 yards in nine plays and scored on Jason Carter’s 3-yard run to all but seal the victory.
The next month won’t get any easier for the Tigers. Clemson has ACC road trips to No. 8 Florida State and No. 12 Virginia over the next three weeks.
A&M has a bye week, then opens its Big 12 schedule against defending league champs Kansas State on Oct. 2.
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