A&M tops Kentucky
Williams’ OT grind into end zone caps game full of quirks
COLLEGE STATION — It was a fitting ending to a wild game: Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams twisted into the end zone to cap a 10-yard touchdown run, and the Aggies toppled No. 13 Kentucky 20-14 in overtime.
A&M kept the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher entering weekend action, Benny Snell, in check most of Saturday night. The Aggies for the most part snuffed out the rest of the Wildcats, too, in Jimbo Fisher’s first signature victory at Kyle Field.
“Heck of a football game,” Fisher said. “We just kept playing and going on to the next play. And our defense was outstanding.”
The Wildcats’ Miles Butler missed a 43-yard field goal to start overtime, with the ball bouncing back weakly from the crossbar, and the Aggies capitalized with Williams’ rugged run to glory.
“Kudos to the offensive line, and kudos to the whole team,” Williams said.
Another quirky play, in addition to the missed field goal: The game was tied at 7 with about 10 minutes remaining when A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw a ball across the middle that bounced off Camron Buckley’s hands and into those of tight end Jace Sternberger, who scooted 46 yards up the middle for a go-ahead touchdown.
The Aggies appeared in control and were trying to drain the clock when Mond fumbled, and safety Darius West scooped up the ball and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14 with 4:17 left.
Aggies end Top 25 drought
The Aggies snapped a six-game losing streak to Associated Press Top 25 opponents, including two losses this season to top-ranked Alabama and then-No. 2 Clemson.
“This is another step forward, (but) we’re never satisfied,” Mond said.
The tide appeared to turn in the Wildcats’ favor early in the fourth quarter, when Mond’s pass intended for Hezekiah Jones popped off Jones’ hands and into the waiting arms of West, who returned the ball 19 yards to the Kentucky 49-yard line. But that first turnover of the night resulted in a harmless drive and a Kentucky punt, par for much of the night for both sides. A&M then received its spark with a 43-yard punt return by Roshauud Paul to the UK 48yard line with 11:07 left in the game.
The Aggies and Wildcats had not played since 1953. Bear Bryant left Kentucky following that season for College Station, where he’d coach the Aggies from 1954-57 before exiting for Alabama, his alma mater and his final coaching stop.
The Wildcats struck first late in the first quarter on a shovel pass from Terry Wilson to Lynn Bowden that Bowden turned into a 54yard touchdown reception.
A&M tied the game late in the second quarter when Mond hooked up with Quartney Davis for a 3-yard touchdown pass, following a roughing-the-passer call on UK’s Josh Allen, the SEC sack leader entering the weekend with six.
Early in the third quarter the Aggies had a chance to claim their first lead, but freshman kicker Seth Small missed a 40-yard attempt off the right upright, just as he had done on one of his two misses a week prior in the Aggies’ 24-17 victory over Arkansas.
Late in the third quarter linebacker and leader Tyrel Dodson suffered a leg injury and was helped off the field. He returned a series later with both ankles heavily wrapped. Dodson typically calls the plays on defense, and linebacker is A&M’s thinnest position.
The Aggies earned their first victory against a ranked opponent in three tries under Fisher, after falling to then-No. 2 Clemson at home and at top-ranked Alabama. The Aggies held Snell, who entered the game leading the SEC with 133 rushing yards per game, to 60 yards on 13 carries.
“We pride ourselves on stopping the run, and that’s what we’re going to do from now on, every game,” Dodson said.
The teams were tied at 7 through three quarters, an unknowing nod to the throwback football the two programs had played in 1952 and 1953. In the first meeting the Wildcats won 10-7 in College Station and in the second meeting the Aggies prevailed 7-6 in Lexington.
One of A&M’s first-half highlights was courtesy of punter Braden Mann’s leg. Mann’s punt of 82 yards in the second quarter was the Aggies’ longest since Bobby Goff ’s boot of 86 yards in 1944, and third longest in a program that affectionately dubs itself “Punter U” based on the A&M and longtime NFL success of Yale Lary and Shane Lechler.
Punter U, indeed
Mann’s punt also was the longest in Football Bowl Subdivision action this season. Speaking of Lechler, A&M honored the 1998 Big 12 champions at halftime, the Aggies’ last conference title.
They exited the Big 12 and entered the SEC in 2012, where their best finish to date is third in the SEC West in 2012.
The Aggies, who wore throwback uniforms honoring the 1998 squad, exit the cozy confines of Kyle Field for the next month, in playing three games at South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn, along with enjoying a Saturday off Oct. 20.
“I think we’re going to run the table,” Dodson said.
A&M running back Trayveon Williams dives into the end zone for the six points in OT that sealed the win over No. 13 Kentucky.