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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies hold off Wildcats

View a slide show of the game!
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Texas A&M Aggies held off a furious 4th quarter rally by the Kansas State Wildcats and edged out of Manhattan with a 31-24 win in front of 49,935 at KSU Stadium.
It took a stop on 4th-and-2 from the A&M 5-yard line by junior strong safety Terrence Kiel to preserve the win for the Aggies, who handed the Kansas State Wildcats their fourth straight loss.
“That was the biggest play of my career,” said Kiel, who finished the game with seven tackles. But none were bigger than his stop of KSU running back Josh Scobey in the final quarter.
It was A&M’s defense that proved to be the difference, as the Wrecking Crew set up one touchdown and scored another in a span of 20 seconds in the 3rd quarter.
The Aggies (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) managed just nine first downs and 189 yards of offense against KSU (2-4, 0-4). The Wildcats are 0-4 in conference play for the first time since 1989.
A&M jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the game.
The Aggies drove 73 yards on their second possession of the game and scored on a shovel pass from junior quarterback Mark Farris to sophomore running back Oschlor Flemming.
The drive was the Aggies’ longest of the game. True freshman running back Derek Farmer carried the ball on eight of the 13 plays, picking up 42 of his 65 rushing yards. As a team, the Aggies managed just 51 net ground yards.
A&M increased its lead to 14-0 when Farris found freshman wide receiver Terrence Murphy on a 44-yard pass just over two minutes into the first quarter.
It was not until there were seven seconds remaining in the first half that the Wildcats got on the board. Scobey scored on a four-yard option after breaking a tackle at the five-yard line.
KSU, who dominated the Aggies offensively, racked up 358 yards of total offense. The 258 yards the Wildcats gained on the ground is the most against A&M this season, and all the Wildcat touchdowns came on the ground.
It was in the second half that the game was determined, as the Wildcats first lost the game and then climbed back into it.
A pair of fumbles and one interception late in third quarter proved to be the difference in the game.
“The statistics probably say something about turnovers,” said Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder. “They may have been our demise as much as anything.”
KSU returner Aaron Lockett fumbled a Cody Scates punt at the Wildcat 25-yard line, but the Aggies failed to move the ball and had to settle for a 42-yard Scates field goal, bringing the score to 17-10.
Junior linebacker Brian Gamble set up A&M’s next touchdown, as he picked off an Ell Roberson pass at the KSU 21-yard line and returned it to the K-State nine-yard line.
It took two plays before junior fullback Joe Weber scored on a one-yard run, giving the Aggies a 24-10 cushion.
“That is what Wrecking Crew football is all about,” Gamble said. “It’s about stepping up and making plays, and we stepped up and made the plays we needed to.”
The ceiling caved in on KSU even more 20 seconds later.
Senior linebacker Christian Rodriguez leveled Roberson on an option play, and Roberson’s errant toss to Scobey was picked up by junior linebacker Jarrod Penright. Penright retuned the fumble 17 yards, and the Aggies led, 31-10.
“(Rodriguez) is having a great season,” Penright said. “Every time you look up, he is on the tackle. He is on top of them every time they run the ball.”
Rodriguez returned an interception for a touchdown against McNeese State earlier this season, and finished Saturday with five tackles.
“I’m very proud of our defense as a unit,” Rodriguez said. “We showed we can deal with one of the better teams in the conference. Their record won’t show that they are one of the best teams in the conference, but they have weapons all over and they know how to use them.”
It was in the fourth quarter that K-State showed off their weapons.
The Wildcat defense did not allow a yard to the Aggies in the final frame while piling up 14 points and 132 yards of offense.
“When the offense made mistakes, it didn’t kill our defense’s momentum,” said KSU defensive tackle Tank Reese. “We were ready to get back on the field and get it done so the offense could do their job.”
Quarterback Mark Dunn, who came into the game after Rodriguez’s hit on Roberson, led the Wildcat’s fourth quarter rally.
K-State scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the fourth quarter, mounting drives of 65- and 73- yards.
With momentum firmly on their side, the Wildcats forced an A&M punt with three minutes remaining.
Lockett made up for his earlier fumble, returning the punt 52 yards to the A&M 23-yard line.
With 1:06 left in the game, freshman linebacker Randall Webb stopped KSU’s Rock Cartwright on a 3rd-and-2 play from the A&M five-yard line, setting up Kiel’s game-saving defensive play.
“It was a great play,” said A&M head coach R.C. Slocum. “I told the team on the sidelines that that’s really what the Wrecking Crew is all about. We had it down to the one play in the ballgame…and they came up with a really big play. They really did a great job.”

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