Texas' season ends with 24-17 loss to Texas A&M

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With a bitter cold draft sweeping into Texas DKR Memorial Stadium, the Texas Longhorns witnessed the death of their disastrous 2010 season as rival Texas A&M triumphed 24-17.

Ending without bowl eligibility, the Longhorns (5-7, 2-6 Big 12) depart with a rare November exit after playing January bowl games the past two seasons. It marks the first time since head coach Mack Brown’s arrival in 1998 that the Longhorns fail to play in a bowl game.

“It’s not something you think about happening until it hits you,” said running back Fozzy Whittaker. “We really don’t even know what to do with ourselves right now – it was a really sad locker room.”

No. 17 Texas A&M (9-3, 6-2) entered the last of the traditional Thanksgiving matchups in the foreseeable future as the heavy favorite. The Aggies were led in the game by running back Cyrus Gray, who ran for 223 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, including one monstrous 84-yard run in the second quarter that swung the momentum in the Aggies’ favor.

“They just made one more play than us,” said defensive end Sam Acho. “That’s the toughest part of all of this.”

But what really doomed Texas in the end was turnovers. The Longhorns had 359 yards – 140 rushing and 219 passing – just seven yards fewer than the Aggies’ 366, compiled from 128 passing and 238 rushing. But the four turnovers by Texas, two interceptions and two fumbles, cost the Longhorns in times when they seemed to be gaining momentum.

“They’re costly,” said offensive coordinator Greg Davis. “We all know how costly they are, and we put our defense in a bind.”

First-year quarterback Garrett Gilbert’s season finale epitomized his season – glimpses of greatness followed by epic collapses. Gilbert completed 20 of 37 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown but also threw two huge interceptions. With those turnovers, Gilbert ends his season as the nation’s leader in interceptions thrown.

“At this point, it’s tough to look back on the entire year,” Gilbert said. “No one in that locker room wants to feel what we’re feeling right now. The fumbles and interceptions just killed us.”

In shock and disbelief, most of the players were adamant in taking the blame after the loss.

“I can’t stand the taste in my mouth right now,” said safety Blake Gideon. “You couldn’t have paid me a million dollars to believe this would happen.”

But Brown expressed a different sentiment. Amid swirling rumors that he will shake up his coaching staff, Brown only fueled the speculation after the loss.

“It was obvious that our players were as good as theirs, but it goes back on our coaches,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of evaluation that needs to be done.”

Texas finishes with the most turnovers of the Brown era and the worst scoring year since 1991. The defense was the worst since the arrival of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp in 2008, but Texas’ coaching staff stood in defense of the current establishment.

“I think our program is in a solid foundation,” Davis said. “This is obviously a disappointing season, but these are some things that are correctable.”

Whether or not the same coaching staff returns, the seniors have played their final game in a Texas uniform. As the leader of the team, Acho sent a resounding message of what Texas’ worst season in 13 years means for the future.

“We learned as people what we could’ve done better,” Acho said. “I know that everything happens for a reason, and this team can come back with a fire and passion that Texas has ever seen before.”