No. 2 Clemson outlasts Texas A&M 28-26

By  | 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Kelly Bryant threw for 205 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score to help No. 2 Clemson escape with a 28-26 victory over Kellen Mond and Texas A&M on Saturday night.

Mond was spectacular in the second half, throwing for three touchdowns, with a 14-yard pass to Kendrick Rogers cutting the lead to 28-26 with 46 seconds left. But his big performance came up just short when the 2-point conversion attempt was intercepted in the end zone.

Mond finished with a career-high 430 yards passing and Rogers had 120 yards receiving and two TDs.

Freshman Trevor Lawrence started the second half, but failed to move the ball effectively and Bryant took over and led the Tigers on two touchdown drives in the last five minutes of the third quarter to extend the lead to 15 points.

Mond got the Aggies to 28-20 when he threw a 14-yard pass to Quartney Davis with about 14 minutes left.

The Aggies were driving with about two minutes left when Davis ran after making a catch and K'Von Wallace caused him to fumble the ball out of the back of the end zone for a touchback to give Clemson the ball. The call was reviewed but upheld and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher got in the face of one of the referees and yelled for a bit as Davis doubled over in disbelief and covered his face as he was consoled by teammates.

Clemson's vaunted defensive line, led by first-team All-America end, Clelin Ferrell and tackle Christian Wilkins and second-team All-America tackle Dexter Lawrence, helped the Tigers pile up 10 tackles for losses and four sacks.

THE TAKEAWAY

Clemson: Trevor Lawrence has a lot of raw talent and impressive arm strength, but the 18-year-old might not be quite ready to lead this team. Though Bryant struggled to move the offense at times, he showed maturity and poise at key moments to come away with the win.

Texas A&M: This was a coming out part of sorts for Mond, who has played well sporadically but never controlled a game like he did on Saturday night.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Tigers should keep their spot in the poll despite the scare by the Aggies.

UP NEXT

Clemson: The Tigers host Georgia Southern next Saturday before opening ACC play on Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech.

Texas A&M: The Aggies play their third straight home next Saturday when Louisiana-Monroe visits before they travel to Alabama to open SEC play on Sept. 22.

POST GAME NOTES 'N' QUOTES

Texas A&M postgame notes vs. Clemson

· Veteran linebackers Otaro Alaka and Tyrel Dodson led the way defensively for the Aggies with Alaka posting a team-high 10 tackles and Dodson chipping in seven stops. The two linebackers combined for 3.0 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a QB hurry.

· Wide receivers Kendrick Rogers and Quartney Davis both grabbed their first career TD catches – Rogers on a 9-yard high-point grab and Davis on a 14-yard catch. Davis’ catch was also his first career catch. Rogers added a 24-yard TD reception with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter to cut the margin to 28-26.

· Rogers tallied career-highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (120). It marked his first career 100-yard game. He entered the game with 13 career catches for 132 yards.

· Sophomore WR Camron Buckley notched a career-high in receiving yards (93).

· Sophomore QB Kellen Mond racked up a career-high 430 passing yards. His previous best was 301 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2017. He equaled a career-high with his three TD passes.

· Mond also had career-highs in completions (23) and attempts (40). Those previous highs were also vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, going 21-of-34.

· Junior P Braden Mann had a huge game with a 55.0 average on five boots, including boomers of 69 and 73 yards. His net average of 55.0 challenged Shane Lechler’s single game net punt average record of 57.2.

· Sophomore Roshauud Paul, from nearby Bremond, Texas, had a pair of solid punt returns as he seeks to replace one of top returners in NCAA history, Christian Kirk. Paul contributed punt returns of 14 yards and 11 yards for an average of 12.5. He also chipped in an 18-yard kickoff return.

· The No. 2-ranked Clemson Tigers marked the highest ranked non-conference team to ever play at Kyle Field. The previous highest ranked non-conference opponent at the Home of the 12th Man was No. 6 LSU in 1987.

GAME CAPTAINS, 12thMAN ---

· Texas A&M’s game captains for the Clemson game were senior DE Landis Durham, senior SAF Donovan Wilson, junior RB Trayveon Williams and junior C Erik McCoy.

· Senior RB Cullen Gillaspia was the Aggies’ 12th Man for the 28th straight game. Gillaspia enjoyed his first career rush on the first series with a 5-yard gain and later added a 21-yard catch and run. It was his second catch as an Aggie and a career long.

BIG CROWD—

· Tonight’s attendance of 104,794 was the sixth-largest crowd in Kyle Field history.

Top Crowds in Kyle Field History

1. 110,633 vs. #3 Ole Miss (2014) Lost, 35-20

2. 106,248 vs. #9 Tennessee (2016) Won, 45-38 (2 OT)

3. 105,829 vs. LSU (2014) Lost, 23-17

4. 105,733 vs. #9 Alabama (2015) Lost, 41-23

5. 104,892 vs. Ole Miss (2016) Lost, 29-28

6. 104,794 vs. #2 Clemson (2018) Lost, 28-26

7. 104,756 vs. Missouri (2014) Lost, 34-27

8. 104,728 vs. Lamar (2014) Won, 73-3

9. 104,625 vs. Auburn (2015) Lost, 26-10

10. 104,455 vs. #21 Mississippi State (2015) Won, 30-17

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M Head Coach

Opening Statement…

“I’ll say this, it was one heck of a football game. It always is when we play them. That's a very quality opponent. Dabo’s done a great job. They got a great team, they competed well, and they made one more play than we did in the game. I’m very proud of our kids. I know it’s not a whole victory, but we ask our guys to get better every day and take steps, learn how to compete, keep a psychological distance to overcome and just keep playing, and we did that in a lot of areas. There was still some mistakes made and we have to learn to clean up the red zone a little bit. We will coach them a little better and put them in a better position and get them situated. We had a critical turnover, had a blocked kick, and we missed a kick, and we had plenty of opportunities. When you play a game with a caliber team there’s going to be some ups and downs, but there’s a lot of fight in this team, a lot of competitiveness, and you also see there’s a lot of very good young players. There’s some guys on this team who can make plays and I’m very proud of they keep getting in that situation. Offensively, defensively, and special teams our guys kept rising up making hits. We were physical in the game. That was a physical football team that we played, and we didn’t back down. We made explosive plays on offense, and got our playmakers make plays down the field. Kellen Mond got his legs and his arm, got tight ends, backs, and receivers all made plays. We have some great young skill guys, and defense had some great effort saves from 3rd and longs were critical in the first half. There were some situations that hurt us in the first half but our guys stood up and got the big turnover. The 4th down stop on the 4th & 2 got us in the game. There was one slip up in the 2nd half with that one turnover but I take the blame when we try to be too aggressive at times. You got to play hard, you got to play to win, and our kids did that. I ask them to get better, I love the way they competed in the game with psychological disposition to compete in the game and play the next play. We will get better, we’ll line it up on Monday. Nothing can stand the chance of the team that we can have. It hurts and there’s no doubt because you see how close you were to playing against the No. 2 team in the country, and we’re right there playing with them.”

On QB Kellen Mond…

“Competition. Competitive leader. The guy will put his heart and soul out there on the field and lay it out there. He makes plays with his arms, he makes plays with his legs, and the guys love it and they follow him. He went out and made some big time plays on the field, and he always leaves plays out there. The moment was not too big for him, and I love it. “

Erik McCoy, Texas A&M Junior Center

On the game…

“This one is on your heart heavy. We had a great game of course, but the outcome didn’t go our way.”

On Kellen Mond…

“Kellen played a great game. There was a lot of times when he got in trouble because of us and he escaped and made a play on the field. That’s what we need. I think he has a bright future ahead of him.”

On the emotional roller coaster of the game…

“I’m going to be completely honest with you ma’am. I was just in the moment. I couldn’t even keep up.”

On what this game says about the Aggies in the near future…

“That we are a force to be reckoned with. We’re just laying the foundation and I feel like we’re going to have a great program this year.”

Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M Junior Linebacker

On using this game to make you better moving forward…

“We have to eliminate the explosive plays. We can be more consistent in what we do. We need to take more pride in that and keep going from there.”

On the difference between this team and last year’s team…

“Us being more consistent this year has played a huge part in our team. Having more grit. Playing hard-nosed football 24/7. We know what to do and are more knowledgeable of the game. Coach Fisher’s toughness, effort, discipline, and pride, we need to take that more seriously and keep building on that.”

On earning respect after their performance…

“I think we gained a lot of respect, honestly. I don’t think anyone thought the game would be as close as it was. I wasn’t’ surprised it was so close because I know the work and numerous hours we put in throughout the summer. We have to keep going and going and keep gaining that respect throughout the country every game.”

Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M Senior Defensive Lineman

On what the team showed tonight…

“We showed what we can do. We can compete at high level with any team. Thanks to Coach Fisher and Elko to put us in a position to play well. It was a tough loss but we played really hard. We have to keep building from here and we’ll see what happens.”

On Kellen Mond’s performance…

“It has a major impact moving forward. Big time players make big plays. He made a lot of tough plays tonight. He had a cramp too. That showed his heart. He cares about us.”

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M Sophomore Quarterback

On what the team showed tonight…

“I think we showed that we’re a team that plays together and is willing to fight all four quarters, even if we had to go to overtime. I think we played together. I wish we could’ve converted a little more in the first half. I think we would’ve been better set off but we were there in the end to finish, to at least tie the game up but I needed to make a better play and give my team a chance.”

On the atmosphere tonight…

“I’m not going to lie, when Kendrick {Rogers} had that touchdown on the goal line, that was definitely a great feeling with the crowd behind me as I walked over to Coach Fisher to talk to him about a game plan and a last play to get us in the end zone. It was one of the greater feelings of the game. I wish we could’ve got the two point conversion.”

Kendrick Rogers, Texas A&M Sophomore Wide Receiver

On his performance tonight…

“It’s more about what we did as a team tonight. I was really impressed by Kellen looking through his reads and making the right throws. Our receivers made big catches. Trayveon [Williams] made big runs. Our defense made stops. It wasn’t really about what I did. It was about what the team did.”

On how much this game will help the team…

“It gives us great confidence. It shows us that we can play how we know we can play. It shows everyone else that we’re not a pushover team and we’re not going to be an easy game. We showed everyone what we can do and how we can play.”

Dabo Swinney, Clemson Head Coach

Opening Statements …

“I’m just really proud of our team, we were in a dog fight. It is a shame someone has to lose a game like that, its two teams that played with such a great will to win. Early on the season, nobody wants to lose and hats off to Texas A&M. What an awesome environment, there fans were great and there team played with incredible heart. I thought we had opportunities to really get control of the game in the first half, and we didn’t take advantage of it. There were a couple real boneheaded missed opportunities, and we don’t do that especially on the road with a team hanging around, you get in a dog fight. That’s what really what happened. Defense, I thought we played a really great first half and offensively, I thought we just missed a couple opportunities. It’s really disappointing 3rd and 1 we get a bust, we don’t gap back and plays welled blocked and then a fourth and goal at the goal line and we fumbled the ball. So dis appointing, but again early in the season, you come on the road and win in a place like this, it takes an incredible amount of toughness, focus, and just character. It was a unbelievable task, this was like a opener all over for us. I knew this was going to be a really tough challenge, they certainly knew a lot more about us then we knew about them. We didn’t know much of their people, we certainly didn’t know what they were playing like. We prepared for a lot of stuff and I was just proud of our guys. They found a way to win. ”

K’von Wallace, Clemson Junior Defensive Back

On his knocking the ball out of receiver’s hands and through end zone…

“Just get it out of his hands because it’s a guarantee he’s going to score if I don’t, so just going to the mentality of just hurry up and punch it out, and hopefully it will go back into the back of the end zone like I thought it would, and get a touchback, so, blessed.”

Kelly Bryant, Clemson Senior Quarterback

On the overall assessment of the game and what it means for the Tiger’s season…

“On the road, late game early in the season, a lot of unknowns about this team but you know it was good, to get that under our belt, you know, learn from it, you know it wasn’t always pretty, but we just kept battling, and you know that just says a lot for this team you know just finding ways to win, you know, when it’s not pretty.”