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January 20, 2021

Texas A&M rolls past Mississippi State

Texas A&M controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock.

Isaiah Spiller ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Kellen Mond threw for two scores to help the No. 11 Aggies beat Mississippi State 28-14 on Saturday.

“When you’re on the road, you’ve got to be able to control clock, control tempo, and you’ve got to run the football to do that,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. “And we did at times today. The other part was running out the last five, six minutes of the game when we got the ball and we got down there and could have had a score. We didn’t, but eating that clock up and not giving it back, that was huge.”

Texas A&M (3-1) led 14-0 at the half and had 325 yards of total offense in the game. Ainias Smith caught five passes for 20 yards and a touchdown. Chase Lane caught two passes, including a 51-yard touchdown reception in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Mississippi State (1-3) had little offensive rhythm for the third straight game. The Bulldogs’ first touchdown came on Emmanuel Forbes’ interception return in the third quarter.

“I thought we literally squandered the first half,” Bulldog coach Mike Leach said. “Right now we’re one team on Tuesday and Wednesday and another team on Saturday. We need to be able to transition that to the field. And if you think that’s frustrating for you, you should try it from my perspective.”

Leach benched starting quarterback KJ Costello midway through the second half for freshman Will Rogers, same as he did last week in a 24-2 loss at Kentucky. Rogers connected with Malik Heath for a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

“Offensively, we were a bunch of pincushions out there,” Leach said. “And I think it’s mental on the part of our o-line, because we can block our own defensive line consistently in practice and A&M couldn’t even do that. So, it’s definitely mental.”

Texas A&M’s defense continually disrupted the line of scrimmage, finishing with six sacks and eight tackles for loss. Mississippi State had minus-2 yards rushing and just 217 yards of total offense.

“Day 1 we believed in the game plan,” tackle Jayden Peevy said. “We saw Kentucky come with a three-man front. We watched a lot of film against these guys. We saw (Kentucky) get a victory so we planned on it all week.”

CONTROLLING THE CLOCK

With just over 11 minutes left in the game, Heath’s touchdown put Mississippi State down just two scores. The Aggies went three-and-out on their next possession, but the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize and Texas A&M ran out the final five minutes by pounding the ball on the ground with eight straight rushes by Smith.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Texas A&M will look to move up in the Top 25 after the key Southeastern Conference road victory. The five teams immediately above the Aggies were all idle Saturday.

THE TAKEAWAY

The Aggies continue to put points on the board, scoring 28 or more points for the second straight week. Meanwhile, Leach’s maiden voyage in Starkville continues to take on water in a second straight home loss.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M is off next week before hosting Arkansas.

“Next week we have Arkansas,” offensive lineman Carson Green said. “They’re a hell of a team. That’s why people love watching the SEC. It can go either way every game. This year especially everybody is seeing that. A lot of unranked people are beating ranked people and switching the whole Top 25 all the time.”

Mississippi State also is off before hosting Alabama.

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