1995 Builders Square Alamo Bowl
1995 Builders Square Alamo Bowl
(#18) Texas A&M 22, (#14) Michigan 20

December 29, 1995 • Alamodome • San Antonio, Texas

Bowl Program Cover--click for a larger version

SAN ANTONIO--With star running back Leeland McElroy sidelined with an ankle injury and most of the secondary banged up, it seemed No. 19 Texas A&M would have a difficult time upsetting 14th-ranked Michigan in the 1995 Builders Square Alamo Bowl.

Despite its unusual rash of injuries, A&M got big-time performances from some unlikely players to post their first bowl win since 1990, a 22-20 triumph over the Wolverines before a sellout crowd of 64,597 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

The Aggies used a trio of freshman running backs to counter Michigan star Tshimanga Biakabutuka, who had rushed for 313 yards in the Wolverines' regular-season finale upset of No. 2 Ohio State. Sirr Parker, Eric Bernard and D'Andre Hardeman totaled 147 rushing yards, 64 receiving yards and a touchdown for A&M, while Biakabutuka fought through a tough Aggie defense for 94 yards on 24 carries.

SCORE BY QUARTERS
Michigan 7 3 3 7 -- 20
Texas A&M 10 3 3 6 -- 22
Attendance: 64,597
SCORING SUMMARY
A&M: Bernard 9-yd run (Bryant kick)
UM: Toomer 41-yd pass from Griese (Hamilton kick)
A&M: Bryant 27-yd FG
UM: Hamilton 28-yd FG
A&M: Bryant 49-yd FG
A&M: Bryant 47-yd FG
UM: Hamilton 26-yd FG
A&M: Bryant 31-yd FG
A&M: Bryant 37-yd FG
UM: Toomer 44-yd pass from Griese (Hamilton kick)

While the backfield was instrumental in the win, sophomore kicker Kyle Bryant booted his way to hero status with a bowl-record five field goals on the evening. After being mired in a season-long slump that saw him convert just 7-of-15 attempts, the College Station native connected on kicks of 27, 49, 47, 31 and 37 yards to earn Alamo Bowl Outstanding Offensive Player honors.

"Deep down, I was totally relieved tonight," Bryant said. "I went through some slumps during the season. This time I had two-and-a-half weeks to prepare, and I knew I had to redeem myself."

Adding to the list of unlikely heroes was the Aggie secondary. Their ranks depleted by injury, the defensive backfield came up with perhaps the biggest play of the day.

Trailing 19-13 with just over three minutes to play, Michigan had just regained possession after an A&M field goal hit the left upright. Junior cornerback Andre Williams thwarted the Wolverine comeback hopes when he intercepted a Brian Griese pass and returned it 44 yards to the Michigan five. The interception set up Bryant's last field goal of the day, a 37-yarder that extended the lead to nine with 23 seconds left.

Griese would toss a 41-yard touchdown strike to Toomer with five seconds on the clock, but A&M backup wide receiver Gene Lowery recovered the onside kick and the Aggies ran out the clock for the thrilling 22-20 victory.

Texas A&M started off the scoring in the first quarter, cashing in on their only touchdown of the evening. With Michigan stuck deep in their own territory, Aggie defensive lineman Pat Williams stripped Biakabutuka on his own 8-yard line. Shun Horn recovered for A&M and, two plays later, Bernard scampered into the endzone from nine yards out for his first career touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Michigan would strike back very quickly, as they needed just two plays on the next possession to march 77 yards for the tying score. On a drive that saw A&M cornerback Typhail McMullen flagged twice for pass interference and once for a personal foul, Griese connected with Toomer on a 41-yard scoring strike to knot the game at 7-7.

Following a 27-yard field goal by Bryant, the Wolverines tied the score at 10-10 on a 28-yard kick by Remy Hamilton. The key play on Michigan's scoring drive was a big 36-yard completion from Griese to Toomer, leading to McMullen's departure from the game.

A&M was able to take the lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to two big plays on their final drive. Facing 3rd-and-5, wide receiver Chris Sanders made a diving catch across the middle, good for a 20-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Bryant then split the uprights from 49 yards out as time expired to give the Aggies the 13-10 advantage.

The Wrecking Crew defense would step up in the second half, placing constant pressure on Griese and giving him trouble finding his big-play receivers up to that point, Toomer and Mercury Hayes. He would finish the evening 9-of-23 passing for 182 yards and an interception.

"Nobody has blitzed me like that this year," Griese said. "I really couldn't enjoy playing against them. I've got a lot of bumps and bruises. That's one sign you know you've played in a game."

After increasing their lead to 16-10, A&M would need a big defensive stand to hold off the next Wolverine charge. After marching 77 yards down the field, Michigan faced 1st-and-goal from the Aggie 4-yard line. Griese threw an incomplete pass, Biakabutuka was tackled for a five-yard loss by Brandon Mitchell, and A&M defensive back Keith Mitchell caused another Griese incompletion--forcing the Wolverines to settle for a 26-yard field goal with 33 seconds to play in the quarter.

The Aggies would add another field goal with eight minutes to play, increasing their lead to six and setting up the late-game heroics by Williams and Bryant that sealed the victory.

The injured McElroy declared himself eligible for the draft the day after A&M's Alamo Bowl victory, but Aggie coaches seemed to have his replacements after the impressive performances by their three freshmen. Bernard rushed for 50 yards on 15 carries, including his first career touchdown. Parker carried the ball 21 times for 56 yards and caught three passes for 23 yards. Hardeman gained 41 yards on six carries and also caught three passes good for 41 yards.

"You like to see guys do it in a game," A&M Head Coach R.C. Slocum said. "I had seen enough of them in practice and in spot situations throughout the season where I felt pretty good about the potential of these guys. They just confirmed on the field what I already believed about all three of them."

A partisan A&M crowd enjoyed the sweet taste of victory in the Alamodome, and saw their team beat a very good Michigan squad that would go on to win a national championship just two years later.

"We got it down there but the crowd did a great job of keeping us out of our tempo," Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr said. "It was hard to hear the plays being called."