COLLEGE STATION- Texas A&M junior running back Mike Goodson rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns, but it was not enough as Arkansas State stunned the Aggies 18-14 at Kyle Field on Saturday night.
The Aggies built a 14-3 lead, before suffering four turnovers, a missed field goal and several errant defensive plays.
Josh Arauco of Arkansas State kicked four field goals, including a 37-yarder with 1:12 left, forcing the Aggies to go for a winning touchdown.
A&M drove inside the Arkansas State 35 in the final minute, but linebacker Ben Owens intercepted a tipped pass by Stephen McGee with seven seconds remaining and the Wolves ran out the clock.
Arkansas State quarterback Corey Leonard threw for 160 yards and a touchdown during the evening.
Early in the third quarter, Arkansas State safety M.D. Jennings intercepted a McGee pass at the Wolves' 41. Arauco kicked a field goal with 5:28 left in the third quarter to bring the score to 14-6.
Three minutes later, Howard Morrow caught a pass and fumbled at the Aggies' 47. Leonard scrambled up the middle for 32 yards on the next play, but the Red Wolves had to settle for another field goal from Arauco to cut A&M's lead to 14-9.
The Aggies got the ball near midfield after an Arkansas State punt early in the fourth quarter. McGee threw a 36-yard pass to Johnson, setting up a missed 25-yard field goal attempt with 9:30 left.
Arnold broke a 32-yard run to the Aggies' 33 early in the Red Wolves' next possession. On fourth-and-4, Arkansas State was called for an illegal block after Leonard scrambled for six yards. Leonard then hit McLennan for 15 yards to keep the possession alive.
Two plays later, Leonard found Jones in the end zone with 4:39 left in the game. Leonard threw incomplete on a two-point conversion try and the Wolves led only 15-14.
Goodson ran for 10 yards on A&M's next play from scrimmage, but then fumbled a third-down carry at the Aggies' 41-yard line with 2:47 remaining. Referees reviewed the play and upheld the call.
After Arauco tacked on his second 37-yard field goal, Jennings tipped the McGee pass that Owens caught to secure the upset.
Texas A&M Postgame Notes
GOOD START FOR GOODSON --- Junior Mike Goodson rushed for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns on a career-high 24 carries (previous high was 24 vs. Fresno State in 2007). It was the second best rushing game of his career behind his best of 127 vs. Oklahoma in 2006. It was goodson's third career 100-yard rushing game. The Doak Walker Award candidate had 13 carries for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half. Goodson accounted for 40 rushing yards on A&M's opening drive, more yards than he had in five games last season.
MCGEE REACHES 5,000 -- Senior Stephen McGee completed 19 of 27 passes for 170 yards, giving him 5,159 career passing yards. He is the fifth A&M quarterback to pass the 5,000-yard mark, joining Reggie McNeal (6,992 in 2002-05), Corey Pullig (6,846 in 1992-95), Kevin Murray (6,506 in 1983-86) and Edd Hargett (5,379 in 1966-68). McGee had two interceptions tonight, only the second time in his career he's thrown more than one. He also had two in last year's win against Texas at Kyle Field.
PENALTIES --- The Aggies had their only penalty of the game with 4:39 left to play. The last time the Aggies had no penalties was against Texas Tech in 1992 (a 19-17 victory at Kyle Field).
BIG SEASON-OPENING CROWD -- Tonight's crowd of 78,691 was the second largest season-opening crowd in school history behind the record of 79,438 set last year against Montana State.
FIRST STARTS -- The Aggies used a total of nine first-time starters -- six on offense and three on defense. First time offensive starters were junior Lee Grimes, junior Kevin Matthews and freshman Evan Eike on the offensive line, junior Jamie McCoy at tight end, redshirt freshman Ryan Tannehill at wide receiver and sophomore Anthony Vela at fullback. On defense, senior Johnathan Hayes and redshirt freshman Garrick Williams at linebacker, and freshman Justin McQueen at defensive back. Vela, Hayes and McQueen are non-scholarship players.
MISCELLANOUS --- Game captains were senior Stephen McGee, junior Jordan Pugh and senior Justin Brantley...making his debut at the 12th Man was juniot Derek Dumas, a walk-on linebacker from Crawford, Texas.
Texas A&M Postgame Quotes
RB MIKE GOODSON
(on the team's mistakes) "It was real frustrating actually. I thought we came out -- we were doing real good in the beginning. We kind of slumped the second half but -- that's how it goes sometimes. You win as a team, and you lose as a team."
(on maybe taking Arkansas State lightly) "I thought we were ready to play. There were just certain plays -- certain things didn't go our way."
LB MATT FEATHERSTON
(on making adjustments) "They just did a good job of hitting the gaps. They came out and ran the ball hard. The quarterback ran the ball like we expected. For a minute we had them then they got a couple of breaks which put them in scoring position."
DL MICHAEL BENNETT
(on the mistakes and having them happen in the first game) "In any game it's going to be one or two plays that can overturn the game. Unfortunately they capitalized on every mistake we made and we didn't on theirs. It put us in a bad situation."
QB STEPHEN McGEE
(on the second half) "Little things just shot us in the foot. Third downs one, you know, didn't get it and then come down to 11 guys on offense just not taking care of the opportunity. We've got to make the little plays when they're there. We faced a little adversity on the first drive and didn't get going like we did the first half and hit a wall offensively. I don't know why we weren't ever able to bounce back from that. We just never got it going."
"It's extremely disappointing. It hurts. There's not one guy in there that's just not shocked. It'll be a great lesson for us -- for the rest of the year, to see how we bounce back and hopefully have the type of character and resolve in ourselves, especially seniors, to step up to this challenge that's been dealt with us. Not exactly the start we wanted to get going and -- hopefully we'll be able to bounce back, you know, starting tomorrow."
HEAD COACH MIKE SHERMAN
"That's not the way you plan for it obviously. Didn't expect to be sitting up here and having lost a football game today. We fully expected to win. But you really have to give them credit. They played well. They coached well and they made the plays they had to make to win the football game. So I take my hat off to Coach (Steve) Roberts and his staff and that team. They did a great job of preparing. There wasn't anything that they did that we hadn't prepared for. But they did theirs better than we did ours. So they win the football game."
(on the second-half offense) "We couldn't get anything going. Could never get into a rhythm. We ran the ball well in the first half. I thought we pass protected well in the first half and I didn't feel like either one of those was good for us in the second half. But we -- you're right. We could not get into a rhythm."
(on not letting the loss multiply) "Well, you know, I've been in situations like this before and I told the guys you can learn more about yourself from adversity than you even can from winning a football game. You know, I saw some guys -- I saw our guys on the sideline really -- my biggest concern was there would be a deflation when we weren't executing very well. And I didn't feel like that. There was a sense of urgency in talking to the players. I felt that when they went out onto the field I felt the frustration when they came off the field. No hang dog attitude about it. So I think I learned something about them. And we'll learn more about them in the next couple of days with how they respond to this. This is the first ball game and it was a tough one. It was a game that you would expect Texas A&M to win and that's not taking any credit away from Arkansas State. They -- they did a phenomenal job and I give them all the credit in the world but we were home and we expected to beat them. But it didn't happen. I just think we have to get back to work and keep working and be better next week than we were this week."
Arkansas State Postgame Quotes
HEAD COACH STEVE ROBERTS: "I can't tell you how proud I am of our players. Our offensive and defensive coaches did a great job with adjustments to dominate the second half. This is a big win for us, but the biggest win will be the one that gets us the conference championship ring and a bowl game. I want our team to build on this win. The environment was awesome. Talk about effective in the red zone. We miscommunicated a couple of times. The fans did a heck of a job. I wish we could recreate that in Jonesboro."
QUARTERBACK COREY LEONARD: "This is arguably the biggest victory for our program. This motivates the team, the university and our fan base. We played against adversity and came back. Kyle Field was everything we thought it would be. I came into the game calm, I kept my head clear and tried not to make any mistakes. Tonight just worked out well for us. We got first downs when we needed them and our offensive line did great."
(on fourth down play on winning drive) "We were upset when we got the penalty. We went back to Jahbari (McLennan) and the offensive line came up great. I had all day. We came up big and got a lot of momentum."
Arkansas State Postgame Notes
A combined eight offensive and defensive players made their first career starts for Arkansas State tonight against Texas A&M. OFFENSE: Dominic Padrta (OL), Drew Hilton (OL), Brandon Ciaramitaro (OL), Mark Clemons (OL and Jahbari McLennan (WR). DEFENSE: Bryan Hall (DL), Darius Glover (LB) and M.D. Jennings (S).
ASU won its first ever game against a Big 12 opponent and is now 1-3 versus Texas A&M.
ASU improved to 44-44-6 all-time in season openers.
The crowd of 78,691 is the ninth largest to ever watch an Arkansas State game.
ASU had 10 players (two true freshmen and seven redshirt freshmen) see their first playing time in a college game Saturday night. Kelcie McCray, Derek Lawson, Jaquan Kilcrease, Jermaine Robertson, Elroy Brown, Dorvus Woods, Jeremy Gibson, Ryan Wilbourn, Greg McCall and Graham Bates all played their first college game.
ASU snapped a 20-game home winning streak in season openers for Texas A&M, and also handed the Aggies just their fourth home defeat over their last 50 non-conference games at Kyle Field.
Sophomore Bryan Hall recorded his first career sack (17 yards loss in 3rd quarter). Hall also finished with his first two career tackles for loss and a career-high five tackles.
Sophomore safety M.D. Jennings recorded his second career interception. His other came against Troy on Oct. 27, 2007. Jennings also finished with a career-high five tackles.
ASU has now intercepted at least one pass in the last seven consecutive games, dating back to last season.
ASU recorded four sacks, topping its season high for all of last year . . . ASU had three sacks against Southern Miss' in last season's last game for the most of the year.
Greg McCall saw action on the defensive line as a true freshman, the only true freshman to play on offense or defense for ASU tonight.
Four players with four or more tackles posted career highs for stops, including: Dominique Williams, Bryan Hall, M.D. Jennings, Darius Glover,
It didn't take junior-college transfer Jahbari McLennan long to get involved with the offense, recording four receptions over the first three ASU drives. McLennan finished the game with six receptions for 73 yards.
Junior running back Reggie Arnold rushed for 145 yards, moving him from 11th place on ASU's all-time rushing list to ninth with 2,277 Career yards. Arnold passed Roy Johnson (1988-91) and Dwane Brown (1984-87) on the list tonight.
Arnold posted his 10th career 100-yard rushing game.
Anthony Robinson recorded his first career reception.
Junior quarterback Corey Leonard rushed for 86 yards, including a career-long 32-yard run in the third quarter that helped set up a field goal.
Leonard moved into a tie for the third most passing touchdowns in school history (25) with Nick Noce.
Josh Arauco took over sole possession of fifth place at ASU for field goals made, hitting his 28th, 29th , 30th and 31st career field goals (37, 28, 25 and 37 yards). Arauco's four field goals are the most of his career for a single game.
Two true freshmen made their debut at ASU on special teams . . . Ryan Wilbourn handled kick off duties, while defensive back Graham Bates played on the kick, kick return and punt return teams.