Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen has thrown for three touchdowns and rushed for one more to help the Aggies hold a 28-27 lead on West Virginia at halftime of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. The two teams have already combined for over 500 yards of offense and things should not be expected to slow down in the second half.
Texas A&M struck first with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Josh Reynolds on the second possession of the game for the Aggies. West Virginia seemed to take firm control of the game in the span of about three minutes with a 17-point flurry that included a field goal, a Mario Alford touchdown catch from Skyler Howard and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by KJ Dillon in the middle of the first quarter. But this game is not one where a team can let up on the gas pedal. West Virginia saw the 17-7 lead last for only a few minutes before A&M answered with a long touchdown pass from Allen to Trey Williams, a 40-yard strike.
Texas A&M regained the lead early in the second quarter with Allen’s third touchdown pass of the half, this time a much more pedestrian 11-yard hook-up with Malcome Kennedy for a 21-20 lead. Unfortunately for the Aggies, the defense gave it right back when West Virginia needed just two plays to jump back in front. Howard completed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Kevin White for a 27-21 lead.
The game has been chippy at times, with Texas A&M players getting their licks on West Virginia’s quarterback. The Aggies have also been penalized six times for 82 yards. There have also been some cheap shots, like this one…
It turns out the same coach did this earlier as well…
Texas A&M Howard Matthews was ejected from the game midway through the first quarter of the game after being called for targeting on West Virginia receiver. Matthews was Texas A&M’s leading tackler this season with 82 tackles, so the ejection is without a doubt a significant blow to the Aggies on defense.
It has been a whole ten days since the last time we wrote about a Texas A&M player being arrested, so let’s do some catching up. Three Texas A&M players — defensive back Howard Matthews, wide receiver Edward Pope and defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury — were arrested last Thursday according to multiple reports citing police records. All three were suspended by the university from team activities, although Stansbury has since returned.
“We are continuing to gather information,” a Texas A&M statement reads. “Gavin Stansbury was initially suspended from all athletic activities, but has since been reinstated to the team. Howard Matthews and Ed Pope were not suspended and are still members of the football team.”
Matthews was arrested and charged for speeding and failure to provide a driver’s licence after being pulled over for an expired registration. Pope and Stansbury were in the car at the time. Matthews and Pope both face a charge for failure to appear, although Pope’s charge stemmed from an earlier failure to comply on an unrelated incident. Warrants for all three players were discovered once the police officer pulling the car over ran the licenses of the players.
Stansbury is facing a misdemeanor charge for assault after being accused of pouring a can of beer on a person and then struck the person with a closed fist at Rice University.
Not many teams have what it takes to overcome an afternoon that sees the offense with five turnovers, but Texas A&M found a way. The Aggies lost four fumbles but still put up over 500 yards of offense in a 56-24 victory over Vanderbilt.
Johnny Manziel finished his day completing 25 of 35 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. This game marked the fifth time Manziel has passed for over 300 yards in a game this season and was his second straight game with four touchdowns thrown. Entering the day with a concern about his shoulder, Manziel quickly put those concerns to rest with a hot start in the first half.
Texas A&M has already been essentially removed form the BCS equation but they are still going to remain a bit of a factor in the SEC in the second half of the season. Few teams are able to pack the kind of offense this Texas A&M can on a weekly basis. As we have seen though, the defense is a bit of a setback for the Aggies. In this game though Texas A&M held Vanderbilt to 329 yards of offense and forced three turnovers, including a pick-six by Howard Matthews to open the second half. Vanderbilt was also held to just three third down conversions out of 14 and 95 rushing yards.
Texas A&M was good at fast starts in each half. Texas A&M took a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and outscored Vanderbilt again in the third quarter 21-0. The third quarter was huge for Texas A&M because it looked as though Vanderbilt had found some offense before halftime. The pick-six on the first play of the second half reset the momentum back in favor of the Aggies.
Texas A&M, now 6-2, has wrapped up postseason eligibility with the win and can now play the role of spoiler in the SEC. Texas A&M will not be heading to the sEC Championship but they can throw a hurdle up for any chance LSU may have and may be the last big threat remaining for Missouri on their way to Atlanta.