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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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Aggies best Auburn for first time at Kyle Field

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Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Senior placekicker Seth Small accounted for 12 of A&M’s points in the team’s 20-3 victory over No. 12 Auburn.

As Bo Nix’s facemask rested against the turf at the 20-yard line, the Texas A&M defensive front cruised into the endzone toward the College Station sun hanging low in the sky.

That was the scene at Kyle FIeld in the early evening of Saturday, Nov. 6, when A&M football hosted the Auburn Tigers. The Aggies took down the Tigers, 20-3. The 109,835 fans in attendance marked the second-largest crowd in stadium history, second only to A&M’s matchup against Ole Miss in 2014.

This marked the 10th meeting between the Aggies and the Tigers since A&M joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012. After Saturday’s win, the Aggies have a 6-5 lead in the all-time series between the schools and a 5-5 draw in SEC play.

After forcing an early punt, A&M sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada drove the offense down the field with a 25-yard completion to junior tight end Jaylen Wydermyer and a 16-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Demond Demas to bring the Aggies into the red zone. A pair of Calzada incompletions stalled the drive, and A&M settled for a 21-yard field goal from senior placekicker Seth Small, giving the Aggies a 3-0 lead. 

Small’s field goal marked the 64th of his career, making him A&M’s all-time leader in field goals made and passing 2011 Lou Groza Award winner Randy Bullock’s mark of 63.

The Tigers responded on their next possession, converting two third downs on chunk plays by Auburn senior running back Shaun Shivers. A 32-yard field goal from senior placekicker Anders Carlson locked the score at three after a defensive stop by the Aggies in the red zone.

Defense began to shine for both teams, as the squads each punted on their next three drives. With just under six minutes left in the second quarter, the Aggies began to establish the running game, as sophomore running back Devon Achane rushed the ball five straight times and gained 31 total yards. 

A third-down incompletion to Demas stalled the drive, and Small missed a 42-yard field goal to keep the score tied at three into the half.

After Carlson missed a 33-yard field goal on the Tigers’ opening drive of the second half, the Aggies finally broke the draw with a 29-yard field goal from Small, making the score 6-3. 

A&M freshman quarterback and walk-on Blake Bost entered the game after Calzada took a shot to his left shoulder, but the sophomore returned after three snaps.

In the postgame press conference, junior offensive lineman Kenyon Green said the team was impressed by Calzada’s toughness and desire to get back into the game following his brief injury, although this is not the first time he has done so this season.

“[Calzada is] very tough,” Green said. “He did the same thing against Alabama. He got hit in the knee and came back even stronger. That’s the type of quarterback I want to play for and protect.”

After an Auburn punt, the A&M run game began to find lanes. Junior running back Isaiah Spiller rattled off a 23-yard carry on the drive’s first play, then gained 15 more several plays later. The drive ended with a 47-yard field goal from Small to give the maroon and white a 9-3 lead with about 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Disaster for the visiting team struck on the Tigers’ next possession, as Auburn junior quarterback Nix was stripped by senior defensive tackle Jayden Peevy. Senior defensive end Micheal Clemons corralled the tumbling football and waltzed into the endzone for the game’s first and only touchdown.

The Aggies decided to attempt a 2-point conversion to stretch their lead to an even 14 points, and Calzada found junior wide receiver Ainias Smith to make the score 17-3 with 13 minutes left to play.

After Auburn was forced to punt, A&M turned the ball over on the first play of its next drive, when Devon Achane had the ball punched out of his hands from behind after a 68-yard carry.

On Auburn’s next possession, Nix was sacked for a 15-yard loss by junior Demani Richardson. The Tigers were unable to dig out of the hole, as senior tight end John Samuel Shenker came up one yard short on a fourth-and-13 reception.

Small added a 37-yard field goal to give the maroon and white a three-possession lead, and a Nix interception by sophomore cornerback Jaylon Jones allowed the Aggies to run out the clock and finalize the 20-3 victory.

Calzada finished the game 15-for-29 passing with 192 yards. It was also his first start of the season without an interception.

After a slow start, the running game found its stride in the second half, as Spiller tallied his third straight game with more than 100 rushing yards, finishing with 112. Achane also locked in another 98.

After the game, Spiller said he remained confident the lanes would open up after a quiet start on the ground.

“I had no doubt in my mind that we could run on [Auburn],” Spiller said. “We just had to settle in.”

Following four straight games of more than 200 passing yards, the A&M defense allowed just 156 yards through the air and sacked the mobile passer four times. And Though Nix was largely contained throughout the afternoon, A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher complimented the junior quarterback after the game.

“[Nix] is one heck of a football player,” Fisher said. “You can’t let him get out of the pocket and create things.”

The victory moves the Aggies to 7-2 on the season and 4-2 in SEC play. The Tigers move to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

A&M’s season continues on Saturday, Nov. 13, when the Aggies will travel to Oxford, Miss., to take on No. 15 Ole Miss. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.

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