Tra Carson

Louisville starts fast, hangs on to beat Texas A&M in Music City Bowl

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Louisville exploded for 20 first quarter points and then hung on for dear life to hand Texas A&M a 27-21 defeat in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Wednesday night in Nashville.

The Cardinals were keyed by quarterback Lamar Jackson, who accounted for all four of Louisville’s touchdowns on the night. He raced in from six yards out on the Cardinals’ opening drive, then hit Micky Crum on a two-yard toss at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter to stake Louisville to a 13-0 lead.

After Tra Carson juked his way in for a nine-yard score on the ensuing possession, Jackson raced 61 yards to the house on Louisville’s next touch, pushing the Cardinals’ advantage to 20-7 with 1:14 still remaining in the first quarter.

And then the game turned into an ugly, chippy, ugly, grudge-filled and did I say ugly affair over the final three quarters. Jake Hubenak, making his first career start following the transfers of Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, found Ricky Seals-Jones for a four-yard scoring toss — capping an eight-play, 97-yard drive — with 1:51 to go in the first half.

Jackson then notched the only score of the third quarter, a 17-yard strike to Keith Towbridge, to give Louisville its third 13-point lead of the night.

Accepting the ball at its own 14 with 6:58 to play in the game, the Aggies raced 86 yards in eight plays, the final one a 29-yard toss from Hubenak to Christian Kirk, to pull within 27-21 with just under five minutes to play. Texas A&M immediately forced a three-and-out, then methodically forced its way down field on a would-be game-winning drive. The march appeared to stall after an incomplete pass on 4th-and-10 at the Lousiville 41, but James Hearns was flagged for hands to the face, providing the Aggies new life. Hubenak appeared to hit Kirk for a complete pass that would have given Texas A&M a first-and-goal, but the completion was overturned on review, instead sentencing Texas A&M to a 3rd-and-8 at the Louisville 24.

Hubenak fired incomplete on the two following plays, and Louisville consumed the final 90 seconds to seal the win.

Jackson, a freshman, completed 12-of-26 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 22 times for 226 yards and two more scores, allowing the Boynton Beach, Fla., native to join Vince Young (2006 Rose Bowl) and Johnny Manziel (2013 Cotton Bowl) as the only players in FBS history to record a 200/200 bowl game.

Hubenak hit 28-of-48 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Carson led the Aggies with 20 carries for 106 yards and one score. Kirk and Josh Reynolds carried the vast majority of the Aggies’ passing game, combining to catch 21 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown.

Louisville out-gained Texas A&M 534-445, and Jackson edged the Aggies by himself, 448-445. The teams combined to post more penalties (19) than third-down conversions (11).

The loss dropped Texas A&M to 8-5 on the year, and handed Kevin Sumlin his first non-conference defeat in 20 tries. The loss, however, meant the Aggies’ win total has decreased or remained the same for the third consecutive year under Sumlin after an 11-2 debut in 2012. This season also marked the second straight year the Aggies finished 8-5 after starting 5-0.

Lousville closes at 8-5 as well, but the end result doesn’t feel nearly as identical as the numbers indicate. The Cardinals started the year 0-3 and rebounded to win eight of their final 10 games.

And there is, of course, the matter of one team’s quarterback position is in shambles while the other just saw its freshman post one of the better bowl games in college football history.

That’s music to Bobby Petrino‘s ears.

 

Derrick Henry, Kyle Allen push No. 10 Alabama past No. 9 Texas A&M

Associated Press
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It’s pretty tough to beat Alabama when Derrick Henry rumbles for two touchdowns. It’s nay impossible when your own quarterback pitches in three more. Henry’s pair of scores and Kyle Allen‘s three pick-sixes doomed No. 9 Texas A&M in a 41-23 loss to No. 10 Alabama Saturday afternoon in College Station.

After a pair of punts to open the game, Allen opened the scoring for Alabama when Minkah Fitzpatrick snagged a misfire and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter. Henry raced in untouched from 55 yards out two-and-a-half minutes later to give the Tide a 14-0 lead, and a 73-0 run over the Aggies dating back to last season’s 59-0 demolition.

Taylor Bertolet put A&M on the scoreboard with a 54-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Henry scored again to open the second quarter, this time a six-yard plunge, to push the lead to 21-3. After another Bertolet field goal, Texas A&M threatened to pull within one score, driving deep into Alabama territory, but Allen again misfired, and Tide safety Eddie Jackson capitalized on the mistake with a 93-yard race back, turning a potential 21-13 deficit to a 28-6 hole with 6:28 to go.

But from there, the Aggies’ defense stiffened – helped greatly by Alabama standout center Ryan Kelly leaving the game with an apparent concussion – and the Tide special teams took over for the A&M offense as the unit that couldn’t get out of its own way.

It started when Christian Kirk raced a punt back 68 yards for a touchdown to close the scoring in the first half, and continued into the second when Alabama return man Cyrus Jones fumbled at his own 47. Allen hit Ricky Seals-Jones for a 44-yard gain, then again for a three-yard toss, and suddenly 28-6 turned into 28-20.

But where Alabama capitalized on its chances, Texas A&M did not. After Myles Garrett blocked a J.K. Scott punt immediately after the Seals-Jones touchdown, allowing Texas A&M to take over just 29 yards away from a potential game-tying touchdown, the Aggies moved backward. Allen took a five-yard sack on 3rd-and-10 and Bertolet’s ensuing 52-yard field goal try was five yards short. And just as soon as A&M was back in the game, the Aggies were out of it.

Alabama added two Adam Griffith field goals to push the lead to 34-20 and, with the score at 34-23 with 5:18 remaining, Fitzpatrick again intercepted Allen and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving Alabama its final score at 41-23.

For the game, Allen was 20-of-40 for 263 yards with a touchdown and three pick-sixes. Freshman Kyler Murray played sparingly, completing 2-of-4 passes for 21 yards and tossing in another interception. Texas A&M never established the run, credited with only 32 yards on the day. Tra Carson led the Aggies’ ground efforts with 13 carries for 46 yards.

Henry, meanwhile, totaled 32 carries for 236 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-most rushing yards ever for an Alabama running back since Nick Saban‘s arrival and the most allowed by a Texas A&M defense since Texas’s Cedric Benson rumbled for 283 yards in 2003. Each member of the Aggie defensive line – primarily Garrett and defensive tackles Zaycoven Henderson and Daylon Mack – had their moments, but Henry still got his yards when Alabama needed them. Jake Coker added an economical 19-of-25 passing for 138 yards plus 13 rushing yards.

But, when Henry rumbles for 200-plus and the opposing quarterback throws more touchdowns for your team than his own, 150 yards is all you really need, isn’t it?

No. 10 Alabama leading No. 9 Texas A&M 28-13 at the half

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The legs of Derrick Henry and the arm of Kyle Allen have staked No. 10 Alabama to a comfortable 28-13 lead at the break in College Station.

After the teams traded punts to open the game, Alabama opened the scoring when Minkah Fitzpatrick took an Allen interception 33 yards for a touchdown at the 7:58 mark of the first quarter, and Henry pushed the lead to 14-0 two-and-a-half minutes later with a 55-yard touchdown run.

Taylor Bertolet put the Aggies on the scoreboard with a 54-yard field goal, but Henry answered nine seconds into the second quarter with another scoring plunge, this from six yards out. Texas A&M threatened to get back in the game when, after a 52-yard Bertolet field goal, Allen moved the ball into Alabama territory, but he was again intercepted. Eddie Jackson grabbed the available pigskin and raced it 93 yards for a touchdown, turning a potential 21-13 score to 28-6.

Alabama missed on a chance to fully break the game open, though, and dynamic freshman Christian Kirk capitalized with a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown with 3:03 to go before the half.

Henry rushed 15 times for 178 yards and two scores in the half, and Jake Coker complimented him by completing 9-of-12 throws for 65 yards. Kenyan Drake left the game with an apparent leg injury.

The Aggies’ offense struggled mightily in the half. Allen connected on only 12-of-24 throws for 135 yards with a pair of interceptions while Tra Carson led the Aggies’ ground efforts with 10 carries for only 30 yards.

Bertolet missed a 55-yard try as time expired in the half.

Alabama will receive to open the second half.

Behind Kyle Allen, A&M joins LSU atop SEC West with win. vs. Miss. St.

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Prior to the start of the 2015 season, most prognosticators had the SEC West coming down to either Alabama or Auburn.  Five weeks into the season, neither of those teams sit at the top of the divisional heap.

With Kyle Allen triggering the offense and John Chavis orchestrating a virtuoso defensive performance, No. 14 Texas A&M had little trouble dispatching No. 21 Mississippi State in a 30-17 win that, for whatever reason, seemed much easier than the score makes it look.  The 5-0 Aggies carried a 24-10 lead into halftime, and the 3-2 Bulldogs could only get as close as 10 points, 27-17, early in the fourth quarter on a Dak Prescott touchdown run.

As was the case in the first half, the true sophomore Allen was a big reason for the Aggies success.

Allen accounted for a career-high 385 yards of total offense, 322 passing and 63 rushing.  The passing yardage is second only to the 358 he put up in last Saturday’s win over Arkansas, while the rushing yards are the most of his young career.

Tra Carson added 109 yards rushing and a touchdown to supplement the passing game.

The Bulldogs were able to move the ball in the second half — 233 yards in the last two quarters, compared to 173 in the first two — but could never mount much of a scoring threat outside of Prescott’s run that capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive.  Prescott finished with more than 300 yards of offense, 210 passing and 96 rushing.

With the win. A&M moves to 2-0 in SEC play.  LSU, also at 2-0, is the only other undefeated team in league play in the West.  After a bye weekend, A&M will have its hands full the next two games as it hosts Alabama and travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss.

No. 14 Texas A&M rallies past Arkansas in OT for second year in a row

AP
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It wasn’t the ass kicking Kliff Kingsbury predicted, but the end result was undoubtedly more painful. For the second year in a row, Arkansas blew a fourth quarter lead and fell to Texas A&M in overtime, this time allowing the game’s final 15 points as the 14th-ranked Aggies rallied past Arkansas, 28-21.

Kyle Allen lofted the winning score to Christian Kirk on the first play of overtime to give the Aggies their first lead since the third quarter, and Davante Harris broke up a Brandon Allen pass on 4th-and-4 to seal the win. The true freshman dynamo cemented his claim as the Aggies’ offensive MVP of the season, catching eight passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

The most frustrating aspect of the loss for Arkansas (1-3, 0-1 SEC)? For nearly 60 minutes, Arkansas threatened to win the game in a very Arkansas way. The Razorbacks ran 42 times for 232 yards while limiting Texas A&M to 65 yards on only 20 attempts; Arkansas ran 67 plays to A&M’s 48 and held a nearly 2-to-1 time of possession edge.

After trailing 10-7 at the half and 13-7 at the midpoint of the third quarter, Arkansas took control of the game by running the ball the way it did at the end of the 2014 season. The Hogs took the lead on a four-yard Alex Collins run, capping a seven-play, 77-yard drive, and pushed their advantage to 21-13 with 14:12 remaining on a three-yard Rawleigh Williams plunge. The latter score punctuated an eight-play, 80-yard drive.

Arkansas had a chance to put the game away for good late in the fourth quarter, advancing to the Aggies’ 35-yard line. But Denver Kirkland jumped offside as Arkansas prepared to go for a 4th-and-3, forcing a punt instead. Texas A&M accepted the ball at its own 15 and scored five plays later, aided by a roughing the passer penalty and a 63-yard throw from Allen to Josh ReynoldsTra Carson scored to pull Texas A&M within 21-19, and Allen hit Reynolds for the tying two-point conversion.

On the ensuing possession, as Arkansas attempted to end the game for good, Myles Garrett stripped Allen and A.J. Hilliard recovered the ball for the Aggies at the Arkansas 41. Texas A&M in turn had a chance to win in regulation, but Taylor Bertolet‘s 38-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Allen completed 21-of-28 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns – most of those yards and both of the touchdowns, obviously, landing in Kirk’s arms. Reynolds also hauled in three grabs for 106 yards and Tra Carson led the club with eight carries for 28 yards and a touchdown while also catching eight balls for 61 yards.

For Arkansas, Allen connected on 20-of-25 throws for 225 yards with a touchdown and a pick, while Collins rushed 26 times for 151 yards and a score. Williams added 46 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts. Drew Morgan notched eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown.

The win lifts Texas A&M to 4-0 (1-0 SEC) heading into a home date with Mississippi State, which leads into an off week before No. 12 Alabama visits College Station on Oct. 17. Arkansas, meanwhile, finishes college football’s most disappointing September, dropping its third straight game and its 15th loss in 17 SEC games under Bret Bielema‘s tenure.