Stid­ham throws for 3 TDs vs. Texas A&M

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Kristie Rieken

COL­LEGE STA­TION, Texas — Jar­rett Stid­ham threw for 268 yards and three touch­downs as No. 16 Auburn pulled away in the sec­ond half and cruised to a 42- 27 win over Texas A&M on Satur­day.

Ker­ryon John­son added 145 yards rush­ing and a touch­down and pro­vided a high­light-reel play with a nifty one-handed catch for an 11- yard gain on third down in the fourth to keep a drive go­ing.

“He’s a spe­cial player and the spe­cial play­ers they feel it when the game’s on the line,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

Eli Stove capped that pos­ses­sion with a 4-yard t ouch­down r un t hat pushed the lead to 4220 to put the game out of reach. Auburn ( 7- 2, 5- 1 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence) led by eight at half­time and made it 2813 when Stid­ham con­nected with Ryan Davis on a 4-yard touch­down re­cep­tion early in the third quar­ter.

The Ag­gies ( 5- 4, 3- 3) were forced to punt on t heir next drive and Shane Tripucka, who had a punt blocked for a touch­down in the first half, didn’t get this one off cleanly ei­ther and it went just 16 yards to give Auburn good field po­si­tion.

Malzahn thought that the blocked punt for a touch­down was one of the most im­por­tant plays of the game.

“It changed the whole mo­men­tum of the game go­ing into half­time,” he said of the play that put the Tigers up 21-13.

Dar­ius Slay­ton beat A&M’s de­fend­ers for the sec­ond time soon af­ter that, and Stid­ham found him for a 46-yard re­cep­tion to set up a 2-yard TD run by John­son to ex­tend the lead to 35-13. Coach Kevin Sumlin benched fresh­man quar­ter­back Kellen Mond in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter went 5 for 11 for 16 yards. Nick Starkel, who opened the sea­son as the starter be­fore break­ing his an­kle in the opener, took over and threw for 184 yards and two scores.

“It was time to give some­body else a chance and I think Nick took ad­van­tage of that to­day,” Sumlin said.

Starkel found Damion Rat­ley for a 62-yard catch and run with about six min­utes left in the third to cut the lead to 35-20. Ar­mani Watts blocked a 52-yard field goal at­tempt to give the Ag­gies the ball back late in the third quar­ter. Rat­ley fin­ished with 82 yards re­ceiv­ing and two touch­downs.

The Ag­gies got down to the 4-yard line on the en­su­ing drive, but Auburn got the ball back when Starkel’s pass on fourth down bounced in­com­plete well short of Chris­tian Kirk.

The take­away

Auburn: The Tigers han­dled busi­ness against un­ranked Texas A& M, but will need to im­prove and limit big plays if they hope to com­pete against No. 2 Ge­or­gia next week and top-ranked Alabama later this month.

Texas A& M: Sumlin said that Starkel “earned his spot back” on Satur­day and will start next week for A&M. He said Satur­day was the first day that Starkel seemed like he was back to form af­ter re­cov­er­ing from his an­kle in­jury.

Up next

Auburn: The Tigers host Ge­or­gia next Satur­day.

Texas A&M: The Ag­gies take a break from SEC play when they host New Mex­ico next Satur­day.

Sam Craft / AP

Auburn QB Jar­rett Stid­ham passes down­field against Texas A&M dur­ing the first half.

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