11 Texas A&M (3-1) threw Bulldogs (1-3) 28-14 Saturday afternoon, beating the home team with 186 yards rushing and 6 sacks while holding the home team up to -2 yards rushing . The State of Mississippi has amassed only 217 yards of offense and a single offensive touch.
Neither team has scored in the first quarter, but the tempo for the game has been established. The running A&M game, led by Isaiah Spiller (18 yards, 114 yards, 2 TDs) climbed 72 yards on the ground while the state of Mississippi punched twice and quarterback KJ Costello (15-22 , 99 yards, 1 INT) threw an easy interception into the A&M end zone with a waiting cornerback Myles Jones on the drive in between.
The Aggies commanded the point of attack during their third drive, when they went 66 yards in 8 plays ̵1; all operations. Spiller scored from 3 yards and A&M sent a message that they would pick up where they stopped against Florida. The State of Mississippi entered the game giving just 76 yards on the ground in their first three games, and the Aggies had just a moment in the second quarter.
“The emphasis throughout the week is to run the ball,” said senior offensive lineman Carson Green. “We want to show that we can run with anyone.”
The Bulldogs went to 3 and came out on their next possession and the Aggies knew they would return the ball, but they did not get a better position on the field. Linebacker Chris Russell broke the Mississippi State line and blocked the punt of Tucker Day, who recovered in Bulldog 1. After a play, Spiller had a second touchdown and the Aggies were 14-0.
A&M forced another very fast Mississippi State possession and looked like they would get the ball in midfield after another punt, but safety Leon O’Neal was called in for a personal foul on trying to jump. in the shield of punching, giving the State the ball to their own 48.
“We got three fines in one play,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “(O’Neal’s punishment) is just ridiculous. We could have scored there.”
Instead, it became another 3 and out, with safety Brian Williams taking the first sack of his career to end the Mississippi State drive. The Bulldogs will get another shot at points in their final possession of the first half, arriving at A&M 26 before a sack by senior defensive lineman Jayden Peevy and an illegal back block pushed them out of the goal set. The Aggies entered the locker room 14-0, getting the starting half of the second half and doubling their sack total for the season with four – most with a three-man rush.
“Pass rush is the focus throughout the week,” Peevy said. “We practiced well (in front of 3-people) this week. Mike Elko has a great gameplan against them.”
A&M took the second half kickoff and pushed down to Mississippi State 32, when a potential catastrophe occurred. Quarterback Kellen Mond (13-23, 139 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) threw a pass that hit Ainias Smith’s shoulder pads and returned to the scrimmage line, where cornerback Emmanuel Forbes held it. and returned the strange interception of 60 yards for a touchdown.
“We had a great drive,” Fisher said, “then we had a ricochet.”
In previous trips to Starkville, that kind of play was a tipping point that led to a Bulldog run that directed the Aggies behind the 8-ball. At this time, A&M returned immediately. In just 4 plays, the Aggies went 75 yards and pushed their lead to 21-7 after wide Chase Lane (2 catch, 70 yards, 1 TD), caught a shallow cross and overtook full defense of the State of Mississippi for a 51 yard score
“(That) was the driving I was really proud of,” Fisher said. “We came back right away. We had two really good Chase Lane catches and Kellen’s great throws.”
A&M will put the game within easy reach, when linebacker Buddy Johnson and defensive end Micheal Clemons combine to reach Costello, forcing a moody Peevy got into Mississippi State 27 and rolling 19 yards to 8.
“I was that close (to scoring),” Peevy said with a little regret later.
It doesn’t matter; Mond hit Smith (5 yards, 20 yards, 1 TD; 10 yards, 52 yards) for a 6-yard touchdown pass to two games later, extending the lead to 28-7. That would be curtains for Costello, replaced by freshman quarterback Will Rogers. Rogers was more effective, completing 15 of 18 passes in 120 yards and the Bulldogs’ first offensive touchdown in more than two games worth of football, but A & D’s hard defense and running game M has stolen any hope of return.
The Aggies finished the final 5:06 of the game, pushing the Mississippi State defense one last time for good measure. A&M ended the time running on the Bulldogs 1-yard-line instead of trying to add to their margin of success.
“We want to show that we can run the ball so that (Fisher) doesn’t call pass plays,” Green said. “We want to prove that we are a great team and people need to know our name.”
Fisher said the Aggies had a lot to improve, but took pleasure from the final outcome.
“A 14-point win is a good win,” Fisher said. “The State of Mississippi has always been a tough place for us to play.”