A&M tops Ken­tucky

Williams’ OT grind into end zone caps game full of quirks

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Brent Zw­erne­man brent.zw­erne­man@chron.com twit­ter.com/brentzw­erne­man

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.

Michael Wyke / As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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