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Simms' Potential Shows in Texas' Rout of Texas A&M

November 25, 2000|From Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas' young guns are all grown up.

In a game of personal and team redemption in an up-and-down season, sophomore Chris Simms remedied unfulfilled expectations with his best game against the Longhorns' biggest rival.

Simms passed for 383 yards and three touchdowns, all to freshman receivers, in the No. 12 Longhorns' 43-17 victory over No. 22 Texas A&M Friday.

Simms was eight for eight passing for 234 yards and threw all of his touchdown passes in an explosive third quarter in which the teams combined for 37 points.

It was a dynamic coming-of-age performance for the son of former New York Giant quarterback Phil Simms.

After a season in which he bounced in and out of the starting lineup and had more interceptions than touchdown passes coming into the game, Simms got the start because Major Applewhite was hobbled by a knee injury.

"This year's been ups and downs and bumps and bruises," Simms said. "I knew I had to learn from everything that was happening. It was part of growing up. Today was a real big redemption."

Simms got his first career start against Texas A&M last year when Applewhite got sick with a stomach virus on game day. Simms led Texas to a 16-6 lead in that game before he was pulled for Applewhite and the Aggies rallied for a 20-16 victory.

This time, Simms was in total control.

Leading 10-7 at halftime, the Longhorns (9-2, 7-1 in the Big 12 Conference) opened the decisive third quarter by driving 71 yards in four plays. Roy Williams capped the drive with a 40-yard scoring run on a reverse.

After forcing a punt, Texas quickly struck again when Simms finished an 81-yard drive with a 20-yard strike to Williams that made it 24-7.

The Aggies (7-4, 5-3) rallied behind 25-year-old quarterback Mark Farris to pull to 24-14 on a 56-yard scoring pass to Mickey Jones. Jones beat two defenders and scampered down the sideline for the score.

But Simms, who had four passes intercepted and returned for touchdowns this season, never wavered.

On Texas' next drive, Simms hit Sloan Thomas on a deep out pattern. Thomas broke a tackle and turned it into a 55-yard touchdown play.

Simms struck again later in the quarter when he pump-faked on another out pattern and launched a 70-yard bomb to B.J. Johnson that made it 37-17.

"Chris played awesome," said Johnson, whose 187 receiving yards broke the Texas freshman mark of 175 set earlier this season by Williams.

"He stepped up in a big game and played his heart out. Today, he showed what he can do and what kind of power he has on the football field."

The win gives Texas its third consecutive nine-win season under Coach Mack Brown, the first time the Longhorns have accomplished that feat since 1981-83. It is also likely to put Texas back in the Top 10 for the first time since early September.

"How does this win stack up? Tonight, it's the biggest I've ever had," Brown said.

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