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Warfield shines in front of his family

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Brandon Warfield's return to his home state of Texas was successful — the third-best outing of his 11-game career so far with 181 yards rushing on 36 carries and three touchdowns that equaled his career-high.

With Warfield getting 141 of those yards and all three scores in the second half, Utah came back from a three-touchdown deficit and no points to fall just about 2 yards short of tying the game against a team that has won some 90 percent of its home games the last 10 years.

But it was so dissatisfying because of Utah's 28-26 loss at Texas A&M that the soft-spoken, heart-broken Warfield — whose hometown of Crockett turned out big for his first NCAA game in his home state — refused to talk with the media.

Warfield took time to talk briefly on the field with A&M coaches and players and with some of his friends and family in the stands, but he couldn't bring himself to speak much after he got into the locker room.

"It was good to play in front of my folks. I'm glad I had a good game," Warfield said through a team spokesman. "I just wish we had come away with a win. It was really nice for my family to see me play because they don't get to see me play very much, but I wish we'd come away with a win. I had fun performing in the game."

The two coaches in the game, Utah's Urban Meyer and A&M's Dennis Franchione, were less shy in talking about Warfield.

"Unbelievable," said Meyer, who credited Warfield and improvement by the offensive line for Utah's second-half surge. "Every week. That's the way he practices. That's the way he works. That's the kind of character, human being he is. Awesome. Awesome.

"That's what their head coach said to me, 'My gosh he plays hard and he hammers it in there. Fantastic effort,'" Meyer added, quoting Franchione.

Meyer said that, despite the huge game by Warfield, there had been no thought of using him on the final two-point conversion play that would have tied the game with eight seconds left. Quarterback Brett Elliott ended up running the ball, the fourth option on the play, when he couldn't pick out a receiver with several of them bunched together in one corner of the end zone. Elliott was forced out of bounds between the 2- and 3-yard line, and A&M took a knee for one play to run out the time after it held onto a Ute on-sides kick.

"No. We've practiced that for five months," Meyer said when asked if Warfield running might have been discussed on the conversion play. "That play, I can't believe that didn't happen. That's our bread-and-butter," Meyer said.

Meyer said the line helped Warfield get it going in the third quarter, when he ran for 30 yards on the first play from scrimmage, then rushed for 4, 2, 3, 2, 2 and 6 yards on consecutive plays and rumbled 2 yards into the end zone after three straight plays by Elliott. Warfield's other touchdowns were from 6 yards out in the third quarter and from 1 yard with 6:13 left in the fourth quarter to cut A&M's lead to 28-20.

"When Marty (Johnson, who is injured) gets back and with Brandon, the way he plays, we're going to be good running the ball," Meyer said. "They couldn't stop us running the ball. We have to throw. We have to be balanced. Until we're balanced we're going to struggle."

E-MAIL: lham@desnews.com