Saturday, October 6, 2012
Instant analysis: Texas A&M 30, Ole Miss 27
By Sam Khan Jr.
Despite turning the ball over six times, Texas A&M escaped Oxford, Miss., with a thrilling 30-27 win over Mississippi on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Let's break it down:
It was over when: Texas A&M junior defensive back Toney Hurd stepped in front of a Bo Wallace pass and intercepted it with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. On a night when the Aggies turned it over so many times, it was Hurd who snagged an Ole Miss turnover to seal the deal and allow the Aggies to secure the victory.
Game ball goes to: The Aggies' front seven. Despite being put in some tough positions, the Aggies defense made some big plays and key stops. One was a 37-yard interception return by linebacker Steven Jenkins, as Sean Porter forced Bo Wallace to rush the throw, that tied the ballgame 17-17 in the second quarter. Porter came up with a huge stop in the fourth quarter to keep Jeff Scott from getting a first down on third-and-2 and Jonathan Stewart came up with perhaps the biggest stop of the night, halting Scott on fourth-and-inches at the Ole Miss 39 with 3:02 remaining. That gave Texas A&M possession for its game-winning scoring drive. Damontre Moore was once again in the backfield, registering his seventh sack of the year and defensive tackle Spencer Nealy was a constant force.
Game ball, Part 2: The Aggies' offensive line. They paved the way for Ben Malena to post a season-high 142 rushing yards and they gave redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel all kinds of time in the pocket. The unit has been solid in pass protection all season long and Saturday was no exception. It was probably their best effort in the running game.
Rising star: Hurd. He's been coming on as of late and he came up with the huge play at a critical time, intercepting Wallace on the Rebels' final drive. Without the turnover, the Rebels were at least in game-tying field goal range. Hurd had six tackles in addition to the pick.
What it means: The fact that the Aggies could have so many things go wrong -- six turnovers, Manziel looking like a freshman, missed tackles on defense -- and still come up with a road win in the Southeastern Conference says a lot. Texas A&M is now 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference and it's becoming more and more clear by the week that they're going to be a factor in the SEC West.