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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A ragin’ nightmare for Aggies in 1996

Photo by Provided by Brad Kemp

Cajun fans stormed the field, tore down the goalposts and paraded them around the town after the win. 

Dave South knows how the game between Texas A&M and then Southwest Louisiana was supposed to go back in September 1996.
“That was a game we weren’t supposed to lose,” South, the Aggies’ longtime radio announcer said.
In fact, the then No. 25 Aggies, coming off a tough 41-37 loss to BYU, were expected to win by such a large margin the Cajuns’ radio announcers came by South’s booth before the game to give a mercy plea.
“I remember their broadcasters came over to our booth and said, go easy on us tonight,” South said.
It was the Aggies though who needed to be given a break, as the Cajuns forced eight turnovers, taking three back for touchdowns in a shocking 29-22 upset over A&M.
“The biggest thing for the game was that we turned the ball over repeatedly,” Brad Marquardt, A&M associate director of media relations, said. “We killed ourselves.”
The game had been marked on every Lafayette fan’s calendar, but was one no Cajun fan imagined winning. Don Allen, the radio announcer who stopped by South’s booth before the game, said he would shave his head if the Cajuns lost.
“You were driving and going, what have we gotten ourselves into here because their fans aren’t used to having a big-time Power Five school like A&M coming to their place,” Marquardt said. “You just wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. It looked like we were going into a snake pit and it turned out to be correct.”
A&M, though, jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead after intercepting the first pass of the game. The Aggies lead would not last for long though, as the miscues began to come.
Lafayette scored two touchdowns off turnovers to take a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. The first two fumbles were frustrating, as A&M drove to the Lafayette 8-yard line before coughing up the ball which resulted in a touchback. On the first play of the next drive, Sirr Parker dashed 65 yards into the red zone before being stripped of the ball, which was returned for a Cajun touchdown.
After falling behind 21-7, the Aggies fumbled inside the Lafayette 10-yard line, missing another scoring chance.
A&M would regain a 22-21 advantage in the third quarter, but in the middle of the fourth, Britt Jackson took back an interception 30 yards for a Lafayette touchdown, giving the Cajuns a 29-22 lead with 6:30 remaining.
In part of Lafayette taking the lead was the connection of quarterback Jake Delhomme, who led the Carolina Panthers to a Super Bowl in 2004, and wide receiver Brandon Stokley, whose father Nelson was the Cajuns head coach at the time, another player who went on to win two Super Bowls himself.
Stokley was Delhomme’s main target, finishing the game as the Cajuns leading receiver with five catches for 54 yards.
“You look at that Louisiana-Lafayette team with Brandon Stokley at receiver, Jake Delhomme was the quarterback, I mean they had some talent,” Brent Zwerneman, Texas A&M beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, who was covering the game for The Eagle at the time, said. “Oh it’s just the son of the coach, these guys are just overachievers. Well, they weren’t overachievers, they were really, really talented and that played a role in it even though we didn’t know it at the time.”
The Aggies had one final chance in the waning seconds of the game, but A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart threw his fourth interception of the night with 31 seconds left at the Lafayette 14-yard line – the fifth turnover inside the Cajuns’ 25-yard line.
“You’ve got to be ready to play,” South said. “Apparently that night we just had a hard time of it.”
As the clock read 0:00, Lafayette fans stormed the field, ripping down the goalposts and carrying them past the A&M buses. The victorious journey with the goalposts, had just begun.
“We were just eating pancakes around 1 a.m. in the morning and we hear this rumble outside and look and here comes the goalposts down the street in Lafayette,” Zwerneman said. “It was a memorable experience on many fronts.”
Zwerneman said A&M wide receiver Chris Cole told him years later that the death of rapper Tupac the day before was the reason the Aggies lost.
“I guess they didn’t listen to Tupac in Lafayette or something like that,” Zwerneman said. “That was an excuse for it.”
The Aggies continued to stumble that season, going 6-6, tied for the worst finish under R.C. Slocum.
Lafayette’s 1997 media guide cover included a picture of the victory over A&M, but the loss was one Zwerneman said drove the Aggies in the coming years.
“They used those setbacks, those losses as motivation, and the next season after that,” Zwerneman said. “I think those experiences that they had, BYU, Lafayette — maybe Lafayette in particular with how everything went — really fueled that team moving forward to say, ‘Hey we’re not letting this happen again.’ ”
In a return trip to College Station in 1997, the Aggies served ice-cold revenge in a 66-0 drubbing of the Cajuns. A&M went on to win the Big 12 South that year and won the Big 12 Championship in 1998.
Still, that game on a humid Louisiana Saturday night is one nightmare Aggies in attendance will never forget.
“It was an enormous win for that program,” Marquardt concluded. “A terrible loss for us.”

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  • Texas A&M vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in 1996

    Photo by Provided by Brad Kemp
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    Photo by Provided by Brad Kemp
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