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

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

The Battalion

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Aggies fall to Mississippi State for second straight year, 35-14

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Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman

After Mond gets sacked, the Aggie bench looks as the clock winds down to halftime with a 14-0 Mississippi State lead. 

Texas A&M felt like it had something to prove after its disappointing loss in Starkville last year, but Saturday night was different location, same result for the Aggies as they fell to the Bulldogs 35-14 at Kyle Field.
The announced attendance of 96,128 was whittled down to much less than that as Mississippi State controlled the game from the onset and never let up as the Aggies (5-3, 3-2 SEC) were limited to 33 yards of total offense in the first half.
“It’s a tough loss,” defensive lineman Landis Durham said after the game. “Mississippi State played good, and we’ve got things we need to fix on both sides of the ball. That’s pretty much the bottom line — we’ve got to do better next week.”
The A&M defense opened with an interception on Nick Fitzgerald’s third pass of the game, but after the Aggies went three-and-out, the Bulldogs (6-2, 3-2 SEC) embarked on a 16-play, 86-yard scoring drive that milked over eight minutes off the clock and seemed to take the wind out of the Aggies’ sails early.
Fitzgerald finished off the arduous drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge, the first of three scores he accounted for. The junior signal-caller completed 12-of-21 passes for 141 yards and also rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries.
“When he has been successful they’ve been successful,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said of Fitzgerald. “He made some big-time throws, and he played well tonight. There’s a direct correlation between his play and their success.”
Kellen Mond and the A&M offense, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going. The Aggies punted on six of their first seven possessions of the game, and the time they didn’t punt was an interception which Mississippi State turned in to seven points.
“I thought we were ready to go, I thought we started with energy,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said, “but obviously our execution was not where it needed to be offensively.”
The Aggies went three-and-out in their first drive of the second half, allowing Mississippi State to extend its lead to 21-0. Fitzgerald hit Farrod Green for 41 yards and, after a pass interference got the Bulldogs into the red zone, Fitzgerald found a wide open Jordan Thomas in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.
Texas A&M, though, responded with a 10-play, 76-yard drive to get on the board. Kellen Mond electrified the drive with a 33-yard run to get the Aggies inside the 10, and Keith Ford finished off the drive with a one-yard run on a direct snap.
Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Bulldogs leading 28-7, Mond was hit late after delivering a shovel pass to Kendall Bussey. Roughing the passer was called, but it spelled the end of the night for the freshman. Mond was helped off the field and Nick Starkel entered the game at quarterback.
“I just didn’t like the way he looked when he got hit,” Sumlin said of Mond’s exit. “He kind of laid there for a little bit, and I just didn’t like the way he looked.”
Sumlin said that hit was what made him decide to bring Starkel in and that the thought of taking Mond out had not crossed his mind before that penalty.
The Mississippi State defense was stingy early, disguising some blitzes that kept the A&M offensive line off balance and confused Mond, who completed 8-of-26 passes for 56 yards and two interceptions.
“They brought some fronts that we weren’t expecting to see as much of,” offensive lineman Connor Lanfear said. “It took us a little bit to adjust to that and get the correct people blocked.”
Starkel got the offense going a little bit when he came in, completing a 70-yard touchdown to Camron Buckley and leading two other drives that crossed midfield but did not end in points, including a 90-yard interception return for touchdown he threw to Jamal Peters.
Starkel finished with 133 yards on 8-of-15 passing. 
The Aggies will look to get back on track next Saturday against Auburn, who did not play this week. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.
“Anytime you lose at home it’s crushing,” Lanfear said. “It hurts and it’s something we don’t take for granted, but I guarantee you we are going to fix what needs to be fixed.”

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