COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Trayveon Williams ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns to lead Texas A&M to a 41-20 win over UAB on Saturday night to snap the Blazers' school-record eight-game winning streak.
Kellen Mond threw two touchdown passes to Jace Sternberger as the Aggies (7-4) got their second straight win after losing their previous two games.
UAB (9-2), which clinched their first Conference USA West division title last week, lost for the first time since Sept. 8 in a mistake-filled game which included two interceptions by Tyler Johnston, a fumble returned for a touchdown, and three missed field goals and a blocked extra point.
Things went wrong for the Blazers immediately, with Andre Wilson fumbling the opening kickoff, which was recovered by Larry Pryor and returned 17 yards for the score.
UAB bounced back on the next possession, using a 10-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 9-yard touchdown reception by Wilson to tie it at 7-7.
The first touchdown by Williams, a 9-yard run, put Texas A&M back on top 14-7 with about six minutes left in the first quarter.
Nick Vogel's first missed field came after that, with the 43-yard attempt clanging off the left upright and sailing right back at him.
The Aggies were up 17-7 early in the second quarter when Vogel missed again, this time his 44-yard attempt was blocked by Jayden Peevy.
UAB was driving late in the second quarter when Donovan Wilson intercepted Johnston to give the Aggies the ball back. The second TD by Williams, who has seven 100-yard games this season, came a few plays later to extend Texas A&M's lead to 24-7.
The Aggies got the ball back with 11 seconds left in the first half and attempted a 39-yard field goal after an incomplete pass, but it was wide right to leave them up by 17 at halftime.
Texas A&M added a field goal on its first possession of the second half and Vogel's third miss came after that.
Sternberger extended Texas A&M's lead to 34-7 when he grabbed a 25-yard touchdown reception late in the third. His 20-yard catch extended it to 41-13 with about nine minutes left.
The Blazers recovered a fumble to set up a 10-yard TD reception by Wilson before Sternberger's second touchdown, but Vogel's extra point attempt was blocked.
UAB entered the game leading the nation with a school-record 38 sacks and piled up seven in a win over Southern Miss last week. They didn't have nearly as much success in getting to the mobile Mond, sacking him just once.
UAB: The Blazers moved the ball well and looked good at times, but had far too many errors to beat a SEC team.
Texas A&M: Mond didn't have a turnover after committing six in the last three games combined. He'll have to continue to play clean football next week when the Aggies host No. 10 LSU for them to have a chance at the upset.
UAB: Visit Middle Tennessee next Saturday.
Texas A&M: Host LSU next Saturday night to wrap up the regular season.
Texas A&M postgame notes vs. No. 25 UAB
ABOUT THE VICTORY ---
· With the 41-20 victory over UAB, Texas A&M improved to 7-4, which marked the program’s ninth straight season of at least seven victories.
· The win over the No. 25-ranked Blazers (Amway Coaches poll) marked the Aggies’ second victory over a top 25 opponents (also beat No. 13/15 Kentucky).
· The 60-yard punt by Braden Mann was his 14th punt of 60-or-more yards this season which gives him sole possession of the NCAA record for 60-yard punts in a season. He was tied with Ryan Plackemeier of Wake Forest from the 2005 season. For the game, Mann …
· The Aggies opened the game with perhaps the quickest score in school history. True freshman LB Brian Johnson forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and was scooped up and returned 17 yards for a score by junior DB Larry Pryor just nine seconds into the game. It was the first fumble return of the season for the Aggies, and it was the team’s first fumble return for a TD since Deshazor Everett had a 12-yarder vs. SMU on Sept. 21, 2013.
· Sophomore Jayden Peevy blocked a pair of UAB kicks tonight, one FG and one XP. It was the Aggies’ second FG block of the season (Daylon Mack vs. ULM) and marked the first time since the 2017 Auburn game that the Aggies blocked more than one kick in the same game.
· The SEC’s leading rusher Trayveon Williams posted his fourth multiple touchdown game of the season TD rushes of nine yards and one yards. For the game, Williams rushed for 167 yards on 20 carries which moved his season total to 1,326 yards. He becomes the sixnth player to eclipse the 1,300-yard barrier in a single season as he moved past Tra Carson (1,165 in 2015), Greg Hill (1,216 in 1991) and Bob Smith (1,302 in 1950) to No. 5 on the Aggies’ single season rushing list. On the career rushing chart, Williams moved into sole possession of fifth with 3,181 yards.
· Junior TE Jace Sternberger continued to build on his tight end school record for TD catches in a season with his seventh and eighth touchdown grabs against the Blazers. He reeled in TD catches of 25 yards and 20 yards. He now has at least one 20-yard plus catch in 10 of 11 games in 2018. Sternberger entered the game as the FBS’s co-leader in TD catches by a tight end. Sternberger passed Rod Bernstine (710, 1986) for the most yards by an A&M TE in a single season, he has 729 yards on the season on 42 catches.
· The Aggies forced a season-high three takeaways with a fumble recovery and two pickoffs. The A&M defense tallied a season-high 11.0 TFL including 3 sacks. The Aggies finished with a season-high 3 forced fumbles.
· Tonight’s game was the first of the season that the Aggies didn’t win the time of possession battle.
· Texas A&M entered the night 84th in the country at 6.8 penalties per game but drew only one flag in the contest, on the last drive of the night.
GAME CAPTAINS, 12thMAN ---
· Texas A&M’s game captains for the UAB game were senior LB Otaro Alaka, senior SAF Donovan Wilson, junior RB Trayveon Williams and junior C Erik McCoy. Texas A&M won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half.
· Senior RB Cullen Gillaspia was the Aggies’ 12th Man for the 37th straight game.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M Head Coach
“Great win by us as far as playing a very quality opponent. That was a very good football team, and we knew it going in. I said they were a top 25 team for a reason, they were 9 and 1. They had 35 seniors and played like it, had a physical front, and did good job upfront. They played well, their offense was outstanding, they threw the ball well, and were great. They were 10 of 16 on 3rd down. We didn’t do a very good job there. I think that was the first time we lost in time of possession in maybe all year. They did a great job keeping us off the field. But defense, at least, did a good job at least bending but not giving up some sixes. Our special teams I thought were outstanding. We had two blocked field goals, missed field goal, had a great punt return that should’ve set up for three points, we had a great kickoff return that got a big drive that started late, punted the ball, and did a great job in that regard. Offensively, I thought we were very efficient. We didn’t get the ball that many times but had got the fumble late that was very critical that got them, when we were up by 28 back to 21. We shouldn’t have ever done that. That was bad, but we responded well in the fourth quarter and we stayed strong. I thought Kellen was outstanding on the night. I thought he was very accurate with the ball in making great throws when he had chances to hit the deep routes. We had under 20 throws because we only had 54 plays. But Trayveon ran and got it going in the 4th quarter. Jashaun had a couple good runs and of course Jace played well. It was a good solid game, but we need to play better. We can’t give up that many yards, and can’t give up that many 3rd down conversions, and in that regards we got to keep learning to play the pass better and get some more rushes and get better because we got one of the top, most talented teams in the country coming in here next week so we gotta get ready to go but it was a great win by our guys. They started to learn how to play harder, get better, learn to finish better and got another win and move on.”
On Trayveon’s play today...
“I wanted him to finish the game. I wanted him to finish the game and that’s what I’m talking about. Take no doubt, take the air out of the ball, run it down the field, score points and play the whole game. Letting him back in after the fumble, there’s no reason for that. We went down there we might’ve pulled him out but we weren’t going to do that. We got to learn to finish the game, play and do what we need to do to grow as a program. “
On the secondary’s performance...
“They didn’t play very well. They didn’t cover well, and tackle well in space. They need to tackle better, they need to cover them tighter, and we need to get a better rush. And the rush will help on that too, so I think in both sides we need to do a better job and play better. “
On how big it was to get a touchdown off of the opening kickoff...
“Oh that was outstanding, you don’t see that very often. I had to sat there and think, I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a team that scored a touchdown like that. Now I’ll tell you this, now I’ll talk about our kickoff team coverage, I didn’t even mention that. Every time they ran it out I don’t think they got it past the 15 or 18 or something like that. Once they were brought out, they were getting down there, we were kicking it well, and to get 7 points like that to start off, that was huge. “
On if where you want to be for LSU next...
“You’re never where you want to be. We won’t ever be where we want to be. No matter what. Even if we win them all, we won’t ever be where we want to be. You got to get better, and good enough is never good enough. We gotta keep pushing to find it, because everybody's going to come at you and we’re going to find out because that’s one heck of a football team. So, we better have a great week of practice and get ready to play.”
On what Donavon getting an interception meant…
“Everything, I mean you know he’s had some tough moments but those big interceptions were him and Capers-Smith. Those two seniors got those two big picks and that was huge. That was big by Donavon at that time and we needed it big time.”
On what it is going to take to beat LSU next week…
“A great game. I’m going to have to look at the film but we’re going to have to play better in all three phases. That’s no disrespect to UAB, who’s a great team. Bill’s done a heck of a job of what he’s done with that team getting those seniors, getting that group in there, but LSU is one of the top teams in the country. They’re as talented football team as anybody, across the board of anybody in America. They got three or four first rounders on defense alone. So we’re really going to have to dot our eyes, grind some teeth, and get ready to play. “
Texas A&M Sophomore QB Kellen Mond
On how he was feeling during game tonight…
“Pretty much the whole night I felt comfortable in the pocket. I thought the offensive line did a really good job and Trayveon in protection as well. The receivers and tight ends made me feel a little more comfortable with how they were running routes. I just thought we did a really good job preparing over practice and when that translates to the game, it can be really easy.”
On what it is like having a running back like Trayveon on offense…
“It is probably one of the biggest things for our offense. How he has played lately, I have seen his growth and he is still continuing to learn and work even harder. Not even in the run game but also in the pass game he has been phenomenal. He is definitely a phenomenal back to have.”
On having no turnovers and being able to move offense well down the field...
“I felt really confident this whole game and felt really good in the pocket. It definitely helps with my confidence. I am looking forward to next week.”
Texas A&M Junior TE Jace Sternberger
On game tonight and the importance of the win...
“Any time we get a win it’s going to be an important thing but the fact that we were able to assert our dominance from the get-go, which was very important for us going into this week, we prepared for that since Monday. We had to set the tone quick and I believe we did that, we still let a couple of things up including one of my blocks but it's one of those things that we’re just going to get back to practice and fix it.”
On what breaking records means to you...
“It’s one of those things where it’s cool and all, I like hearing about it more than keeping up with all that stuff but, I know this is cliché, but all you care about at the end of the day is winning and if you’re playing hard and competing all of the accolades come with it, so it’s one of those things that’s really just a plus because if I was saying we lost the game it would be a completely different story. I couldn’t really care less about the statistics though, with the fact that we’re winning I’ll kind of acknowledge them, but I think about it too much until we get our end result, which is winning out the season and the bowl game and then we can all talk accolades.”
On the corner route...
“I thought Kellen played really well tonight, and we always joke about the corner as one of our favorite bread and butters because usually when I run a corner route it's always man coverage and Kellen and I both have pretty high self-esteem and so we feel like we can beat anybody one-on-one. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t, but that's the mindset you have to have, so I think that's definitely one of our favorite routes together.”
Texas A&M Junior S Larry Pryor
On getting touchdown off of kick off...
“It was just the first play of the game, and I was sprinting down there full speed and I shed a block and I look up and the ball is in my hands, so my thinking from that point was that I was going to score, so I shed a few more blocks and before I knew it I was in the end zone. It was a great moment.”
On getting more playing time tonight...
“I feel like I’ve just been playing with a chip on my shoulder and all season I haven't played much except for these past few weeks, so I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully we can get a win against LSU.”
On turnovers tonight and if that set the tone for the game...
“I wouldn’t say it set the tone, but that was a huge help and definitely helped at the start of the game."
Texas A&M Senior DL Landis Durham
On specialty of the senior night...
“You really just dream about nights like this, I couldn't tell you what it was going to be like a couple years ago, even last week really, but we came out here and did our thing and I'm happy we got the dub, and I'm blessed to be playing with these guys and really looking forward to finishing out the season strong.”
On his 3rd down stop early in the game...
“We knew we had to tighten down, they're a great team, their record speaks for itself, but we had to just stay true to what we were doing throughout the week and stick to our game plan and make sure we could end out a long drive like that, and get to the next drive.”
On the importance of this game…
“A win is a win, so a win going into next week no matter who the opponent is always a good feeling. We have to capitalize off this momentum we got throughout the week and into next Saturday.”
Texas A&M Junior RB Trayveon Williams
On becoming fifth Aggie ever to run for 1,300 yards this season...
“First off, it is an honor. It is an honor having the opportunity to play for this amazing university. It is an honor having the opportunity to play with these amazing seniors. We wanted to send these seniors off with a bang. Those guys work so hard so it was a tremendous opportunity to be able to go out there and play alongside those guys. I thank God that that I am in the position to accomplish that goal.”
On the key that has been able to make him such a dominant player...
“Definitely practice. Practice has definitely been a grind throughout the week. I think that is our hardest part and then the weekend we just come out here, have fun and play together as brothers. The offensive line has been having an outstanding game. They have been moving bodies and winning their battle up front. I am just so thankful to have those guys in front of me. Just the things we do during the week of practice really translate into the field.”
On match up against LSU next week...
“I definitely feel like this year and this season with how it is going, we are matched up schematically great with them. I feel that we are in a great situation and great position to go out there and play for four quarters and get the win. We definitely have to go back to practice and fine tune on the things we do and just get ready for this week. It is going to be a great opponent that comes to Kyle Field on Saturday and we have to be ready. They are another strong SEC West opponent and we have to do what it takes to get the win.”
UAB Head Coach Bill Clark
“That was obviously not the way we want to start the game. We talk all the time about ball security. Andre [Wilson] has been so good for us with ball security. We’ve had a little snafu to start the game the last two weeks in a row. Give our offense credit, we responded. We moved the ball really well the first half. Offensively, we played well all night. We had our third string center in. I thought the offensive line protected very well for almost the whole night. There were a couple times in the red zone where we couldn’t cash in. The three missed field goals were very uncharacteristic of Nick [Vogel]. He’s been solid for us all year. That’s nine points right there. Defensively, we were down a little bit at the end. Give Texas A&M credit; they have a great offensive scheme, great offensive line and skill everywhere. That’s the best running back, by far, that we’ve seen all year. They have a dynamic quarterback and number 81, the tight end, was as good as advertised. I knew it was going to be tough, offensively. We’re down a little bit with some guys hurt but I don’t want to make any excuses. We have some guys we’ll hopefully get back next week.”
On three missed field goals…
“We have too much movement inside. Once again we replaced a couple guys in the interior and I need to go back and look at it but we knew they were getting a lot of pressure inside. I don’t know if his kick was low, right there at the end they had some super pressure. Nick [Vogel] is really hard on himself. After he banged that one off the goal post, it might have got him down a little bit. I don’t know the trajectory on the one that got blocked. We’ll have to look at it.”
On competing with a team like Texas A&M…
“They’re a team who’s had two or three games they should’ve won and they’ve played well all season. They’re dynamic, the crowd and them trying to get their seventh win all played a part tonight. They were going to be ready for us. We’re in the Top 25. We’ve won nine games. I think the guys expected to win and expected to compete. Any big game, the championship game, the bowl game, whatever it is, we can’t make mistakes and shoot ourselves in the foot. Those are the things we talk about and work on. That’s the reason we’ve won nine games. Maybe for some of our players, the setting got to them a little bit but I hope that’s something we learn from. In this setting, they were as positive as you can be through the circumstances. They kept fighting. They’re already looking forward to the next one.”