Jaylen Henderson leads Texas A&M to victory in Elijah Robinson’s first game as interim coach
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M quarterback Jaylen Henderson threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns and the Aggies defeated Abilene Christian 38-10 on Saturday to start the Elijah Robinson era.
Robinson, A&M’s defensive line coach, is serving as the Aggies’ interim coach following last week’s firing of Jimbo Fisher. Robinson also is a candidate to take over full time for Fisher.
The Wildcats (5-6) grabbed an early, short-lived lead on A&M’s first offensive possession. ACU linebacker Cirby Coheley returned what was ruled a fumble by Henderson 49 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Henderson was hit on the play by linebacker Reese Young and the ball popped into the air. Coheley snagged the pop-up and hustled nearly half the field for the surprising early score.
A&M tied the game less than three minutes later on a 7-yard Rueben Owens touchdown run, and the double-digit victory for the SEC team versus its WAC opponent was on.
The Aggies (7-4) added scores on a 34-yard Randy Bond field goal, a 13-yard touchdown catch by Noah Thomas, a 49-yard touchdown catch by Moose Muhammad III, a 3-yard touchdown run by David Bailey and a 13-yard touchdown catch by Jaden Platt from backup quarterback Marcel Reed with 56 seconds remaining.
Owens had a game-high 106 rushing yards on 18 carries and Muhammad III had a game-high 104 receiving yards on four catches. ACU quarterback Maverick McIvor finished 19 of 34 for 149 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Henderson is a transfer from Fresno State and started the season as the Aggies’ third-string quarterback. He moved up the depth chart after starter Conner Weigman was hurt on Sept. 23 against Auburn and his backup, Max Johnson, was hurt on Nov. 4 at Mississippi. Henderson led the Aggies to a 51-10 thrashing of Mississippi State on Nov. 11 at Kyle Field in what turned out to be Fisher’s finale at A&M.
The Aggies had a slow start under their interim coach but finally gained some steam in the second quarter and fourth quarter in overwhelming their less-talented visitors. A&M, which lurched at times against ACU, will need to greatly improve over the next week to have a chance to win at LSU for the first time since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.
ACU’s season is complete.
The Aggies, eligible for a bowl for the first time in two years following last year’s 5-7 finish, wrap up their regular season on Nov. 25 at SEC West rival LSU.
- The Texas A&M offense racked up 448 yards of total offense in the victory, marking the seventh time this season it has eclipsed the 400-yard mark.
- The Aggies held ACU to just 93 yards on the ground, keeping the opposition under 100 yards in the category for the sixth time this season.
- The A&M defense made it back-to-back weeks without allowing an offensive touchdown, marking the fourth time this season the unit has not given up a TD.
- A&M limited its opponent to less that 250 yards of total offense for the seventh time this year, giving up just 244 to the Wildcats.
- One of the best defenses in the nation at limiting opponent third downs, the Aggies held the Wildcats to just 4-of-15 on third down conversions.
- A&M improved to 17-0 against in-state schools since joining the SEC ahead of the 2012 season.
- The Maroon & White tallied 6.0 tackles for loss in the victory marking the 10th time this season they have made 6.0-or-more TFLs in a game.
- The Aggies utilized a new 12th Man Kickoff Team composed of all walk-ons plus the placekicker late in the fourth quarter. The last time an all-volunteer group covered a kickoff at Kyle Field was Sept. 9, 2006, against Louisiana Lafayette.
- Today’s captains against ACU were OL Layden Robinson, DL McKinnley Jackson, DL Fadil Diggs and WR Ainias Smith.
- Graduate WR Ainias Smith made it 38 consecutive games with a reception, extending his streak with an 18-yard grab early in the game. He boasts the seventh-longest streak in the nation and the longest by an Aggie since Christian Kirk (2015-17) caught a pass in 39 straight games.
- Smith’s two receptions in the game upped his career total to 172 and put him in a tie for fourth with Terrence Murphy (2001-04) for fourth all-time at A&M.
- Junior WR Moose Muhammad III caught the 10th touchdown pass of his career, using a season-long 49-yard reception to move into a seven-way tie for 18th on A&M’s all-time receiving touchdowns list.
- Muhammad finished the game with 104 yards on four catches to register the third 100-yard game of his career.
- Sophomore WR Evan Stewart added an 8-yard catch on the day to help him move into a three-way tie for 22nd all-time at A&M with 98 career receptions.
- True freshman RB Rueben Owens had a career day, racking up 106 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, registering the first 100-yard game of his career and the first by an A&M true freshman running back since De’Von Achane tallied 104 yards on the ground in the Orange Bowl win over North Carolina to cap off the 2020 season.
- Sophomore DBs Jarred Kerr and Bryce Anderson, along with junior LB Edgerrin Cooper led the defense with five tackles apiece.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.