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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 fall to Auburn, 42-27

Quarterback+Nick+Starkel%26%23160%3Bthrew+11+caught+passes+for+184+yards+and+2+touchdowns.
Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman

Quarterback Nick Starkel threw 11 caught passes for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Texas A&M had not won a SEC West home game since 2015 entering Saturday’s contest against Auburn. That streak was extended Saturday afternoon as the Aggies (5-4, 3-3 SEC) fell to the Tigers, 42-27.
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham found success penetrating the inexperienced A&M secondary and the Aggies struggled to limit junior running back Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for 145 yards.
The Tigers balanced offensive attack put the A&M defense on their heels and proved costly as Auburn scored two touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the third quarter: a 4-yard pass to receiver Ryan Davis and a 2-yard run from Johnson. The two scores marked 28 unanswered points for the Tigers, as the Aggies found themselves behind the eight ball, trailing 35-13.
A&M responded with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Damion Ratley, cutting the lead to 35-20. The Aggies missed a chance to cut their deficit to one possession, turning the ball over on downs inside the Tiger 10-yard line.
Auburn continued to dominate the A&M defense and tacked on another touchdown via a 4-yard run, extending their lead to 42-20 with 5:08 remaining in the game. A&M seemed to have stopped the Tigers, at the beginning of the drive but, a pass interference call on freshman cornerback Myles Jones extended Auburn’s possession leading the Tigers to run over eight minutes off the clock.
“In the second half the thing that really stood out for me was our defense holding them down there inside the 10-yard line and then our offense going 96 yards and I was really proud of our team,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said.
The Aggies got another touchdown from Ratley, but it was too little, too late and A&M fell, 42-27.
“We were just playing our ball and pounding the rock, but things got away from us. Auburn is a really good football team, so you can’t let things slip away or else they will keep pounding it,” junior offensive lineman Keaton Sutherland said.
The Aggie offense was slow out of the gate, accumulating just 59 yards of total offense in the first quarter, with 40 coming on a long run from sophomore running back Trayveon Williams. The lack of offensive production was attributed to the play of freshman quarterback Kellen Mond, who never really found his rhythm, completing just 3-of-7 passes for 16 yards in the first quarter.
Mond’s lackluster performance continued into the second quarter, and after he was unable to move the chains for the fourth straight drive, Mond was replaced by redshirt freshman Nick Starkel. Head coach Kevin Sumlin said that Mond’s decision-making led to the swap.
“With the way things were going [with Kellen], based on decision-making on the field, we made a change,” head coach Sumlin said.
Starkel made an immediate impact in the game, marching the offense down the field with big completions to junior receiver Christian Kirk. Senior running back Keith Ford then overpowered two Auburn defenders getting around the edge and trotting into the end zone capping a nine play, 80-yard drive.
The Aggies kept their offensive momentum going in the game and drove to the Auburn seven yard line where junior kicker Daniel LaCamera chipped a 25-yard field goal through the uprights with 2:39 remaining in the half. A&M appeared as if it would take a 13-7 lead into halftime.
However, the Aggies had a disastrous end to the second quarter, conceding a 53-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field. The Aggies then got the ball back and played very conservatively, trying to run the clock down and take the one point deficit into the locker room.
“The thought process was ‘let’s get something started here’ and go fast but, if not, let the clock run down call timeout and not give them a chance,” Sumlin said.
That strategy did not pan out for the Aggies as senior punter Shane Tripucka’s punt was blocked and recovered in the end zone for an Auburn touchdown.
“The blocked punt, that wasn’t even a thought because that hasn’t been an issue for us all year, and we’ve been pressured all year,” Sumlin said. “It wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen, really just a lack of execution based on their look.”
The Aggies aim to get back to winning ways against New Mexico (3-5) in the last A&M home football game of the season on Saturday at 6:00 p.m on ESPNU.
“We can’t look at what’s happened in the past and we can’t look at what’s going on besides next week and given the age of these guys, I think these guys do a lot better focusing on week-to-week,” Sumlin said.

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