Harris to the house
Defending NCAA punt return statistical champion Dustin Harris had a record-setting day against South Carolina State. Harris gained 246 yards on eight punt returns for an average of 30.8 per try.
Among his eight returns was a scintillating 96-yard TD return that was the second-longest in school history (98-yarder by Bob Goode vs. Ellington Field in 1945).
His 246 game yards broke his own school record of 162 set last year vs. Kansas, and also broke the SEC record of 203 by Vanderbilt’s Lee Nalley vs. Kentucky in 1948.
Harris’ NCAA-best punt return average in 2011 was 18.6.
Redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel has produced 11 touchdowns in the past two games -- seven via the air and four on the ground.
Against South Carolina State, Manziel used his speed to rip off 39- and 20-yard TD runs, and he connected with Uzoma Nwachukwu (twice) and Kenric McNeal on TD catches.
For the game, Manziel completed 15-of-20 passes for 174 yards and rushed for 78 yards on eight carries.
+ The Aggies suffered their first turnover of the season when South Carolina State’s Dominique Mitchell picked off a Jameill Showers’ pass in the third quarter.
+ Junior RB Ben Malena rushed for a career-high 88 yards on 11 carries. His previous high game was 83 yards on 25 carries vs. Texas in 2011. He also had a 50-yard touchdown run, which was a career long.
+ Sophomore WR LeKendrick “Beep Beep” Williams returned his first career kickoff 54 yards.
+ Sophomore DB Deshazor Everett posted his first career interception late in the fourth quarter. He returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. It was A&M’s first INT return for a touchdown since Dustin Harris had a 38-yarder against Stephen F. Austin in 2010.
+ The 10 extra points by redshirt freshman Taylor Bertolet tied the school record set originally by Terry Venetoulias vs. Missouri in 1993 and later matched by Todd Pegram vs. Baylor in 2003.
ABOUT THE WIN
+ It was Kevin Sumlin’s first win at Kyle Field as head coach of the Aggies.
+ The 70 points by the Aggies were the most since scoring 73 vs. Baylor in 2003.
+ The 56-point margin of victory was the most by the Aggies since outscoring SMU by 58 points in a 66-8 victory in 2005.
+ It was Texas A&M’s first-ever game and first-ever win against a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
+ The Aggies tallied 800 all-purpose yards with 265 rushing, 183 receiving, 246 punt return, 84 kickoff return, 22 interception return. It marks A&M’s highest all-purpose yardage total since logging 863 against Baylor in 2003.
First half offensive assault
+ The Aggies took a 49-7 lead into halftime, which was A&M’s largest first-half scoring outburst at least since the early 1960s (SID record book ends there).
+ A&M generated 347 first-half yards with 173 rushing (23 carries) and 174 passing (20 pass attempts).
+ Aggies were 5-of-8 on third-down tries.
+ In a strange twist, South Carolina State held the ball for about a minute longer than the Aggies (15:26-14:34)
Captains, 12th Man
+ Game captains for the Aggies were: senior center Patrick Lewis, senior safety Steven Terrell, senior linebacker Sean Porter, senior wide receiver Ryan Swope and junior defensive back Dez Gardiner.
+ The 12th Man for the third straight game was sophomore Justin Bass, a linebacker from Plano East HS.
On how fun the win was
“We challenged a group of guys and made some changes in the punt return unit. It started getting better at SMU. There were more opportunities last week and Dustin got more confident. Lots of guys were working like crazy to block for him.”
On Johnny Manziel
“He took care of the ball for the third straight week and made some plays with his legs. He isn't being careless and that’s giving us the opportunity to be successful. He could cut loose a little more and stay in the pocket. He is taking care of the ball and not giving it to the other team. His comfort level outside the pocket is high. I thought he operated pretty well. We need to be more efficient early in the game. Overall it was a great team victory, defense played well, special teams helped field position, kickers did well, averaged pretty good. The return game was excellent and gave offense opportunities. We need to continue to get better as an offense, and defense is getting better. In a game like this you're able to play a lot of people. Playing lots of people and no major injuries, it was a successful night.”
On Ben Malena
“Ben has been a great team guy. “What you don't see is what he's done on special teams. He would play in every phase of special teams if we let him. We can't have enough guys like him on this team.”
On the quarterbacks
“There are not a lot of guys running like that. As we continue to play and the competition gets stiffer, it will be more difficult to do those types of things.”
On first quarter struggles
“We struggled early. We had more success with one back than two backs. We were efficient with our runs with one back.”
Senior Linebacker Jonathan Stewart
On how the win felt
“It’s great. In the first half we came out. Except for those two plays - the roughing the passer penalty and that touchdown we gave up, it’s good to go out and have a fairly clean half. From a coaches’ perspective and a players’ perspective, it still wasn’t good enough because we felt like we should have ahd a shutout. We didn’t get that accomplished. Even if you look at the point difference in the game, 70-14, we felt like it should have been greater and that defensively we’ve still got to keep getting better.
On what stands out to him from his unit
“Every single week we’ve gotten better. In the Florida game, we had far too many penalties defensively and far too many mental lapses where we couldn’t get far too many tackles. In the SMU game, we came down. This game, we came down again except for on those two plays. That’s what’s standing out. That we’re getting better every week.”
Junior Defensive Lineman Damontre Moore
On what the key was tonight
“I believe that preparation was the key, and my coaches putting me in the right situations and going as hard as I can.”
On being consistent
“As of right now, yes. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We’ll see at the end of the year if I successfully came through and then I’ll be able to better assess that question.”
On how much pride he has in the first three games
I take pride in everything I do. If you don’t take pride, what are you doing it for? When we go out there, every snap, every play – what you put on film is who you are. We have to have a sense of pride in that so that we can tell people that we aren’t who they think we are and just prove them wrong.”
Senior Receiver Ryan Swope
On how they will benefit from rest going into the SEC
“It’s important that we get our work in and focus on one game at a time and taking care of business. These first three games are important to just see who comes out and plays hard for us. It’s a good test for our team and it gives guys the opportunity to come out and play and get a feel for the game. We have a good feel for who wants to play and will be out there making plays for us.”
On what he’s learned about the offense this season
“I like how everyone spreads the ball around. I think Johnny does a good job of extending the play and finding a couple of receivers down the field. You never know what he’s going to do. I feel like the offensive line has done a great job of giving him time to do what he’s doing. I give a lot of credit to those five guys up there. I tip my hat to them. They’ve done a great job. They’ve worked hard this whole camp. I trust them. It’s exciting to have a good group of guys up there running our unit.”
South Carolina State Post- Game Quotes
Head Coach Oliver Pough
On overall impressions of the game
“Texas A&M has a tremendous atmosphere. We didn’t do quite enough to challenge them the whole game. Had we gotten ourselves a few more conversions, caught a ball or two, a few better throws, and we possibly had a chance to hang in this game. We were in a lot better shape this game than the Arizona game. The score got out of hand here because of the kicking game. [Dustin Harris] returned every kind of punt. A&M was fast, and the dominant team. We had a good experience competing against them. I’m looking forward to getting back to our league and seeing what we can do at our level.”
Junior Quarterback Richard Cue
On takeaway from the game
“We left a lot of points on the field tonight. We didn’t execute and shot ourselves in the foot. We are not that far away from being successful; we are going to learn from games like this.”
Junior Linebacker Joe Thomas
On overall impressions of the game
“We came out strong, but we didn’t execute for four quarters. That is where we lost the game. We had a couple good three and outs tonight, but we have to step it up next week and make the whole MEAC pay for what we have gone through the last couple weeks. The atmosphere was great; the fans were really into the game.”