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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Ending Auburn’s winning streak and extending its own, A&M outplayed the visitors 27-10

Sophomore+QB+Max+Johnson+%2814%29+scrambles+outside+of+the+pocket+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Auburn+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+23%2C+2023+at+Kyle+Field.+%28CJ+Smith%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by CJ Smith

Sophomore QB Max Johnson (14) scrambles outside of the pocket during Texas A&M’s game against Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 at Kyle Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Rise and shine.
The first morning matchup of the year brought a 27-10 Auburn defeat by Texas A&M. After sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman went down with injury, fellow sophomore QB Max Johnson stepped up and led the Aggies to victory, with over 100 yards passing and two touchdowns.
“For us to be able to get this win it just shows to ourselves that we are capable of doing a lot,” graduate wide receiver Ainias Smith said. “Once we watch film, we’re going to see that we’re capable of doing a lot more.”
In the first drive, Weigman’s pass was barely completed to sophomore running back Le’Veon Moss, as he snagged the pass one handed for 4 yards . Following the reception, freshman running back Rueben Owens side stepped and hurdled a defender, taking the short pass for 26 yards.
“We’ll get the ball to Reuben Owens a thousand more times,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s going to be a phenomenal player, and he made a bunch of good runs.”
Weigman was sacked by sophomore Auburn safety Caleb Wooden and junior kicker Randy Bond was forced to kick a 51-yard field goal. Bond’s attempt was good.
For a 2-yard loss, junior quarterback Payton Thorne rushed down the middle. In the next snap, Thorne earned a 1 yard gain, tackled away by freshman linebacker Taurean York and junior linebacker Edgerrin Cooper.
“York played great, Coop[er] played great, we played real good in the back end,” sophomore defensive back Bryce Anderson said. “So, today was a collective effort.”
Junior defensive lineman Shemar Turner hurried Thorne for an incomplete pass intended for senior wide receiver Ja’Varrius Johnson. Senior punter Oscar Chapman punted for 34 yards to the A&M 42-yard line.
After Moss’ 1-yard loss, he rushed down the middle for a 36-yard gain and was forced out of bounds by senior cornerback Jaylin Simpson. Simpson then tackled Smith on the Aggies’ 1-yard completed pass by Weigman.
Two false start penalties later, Weigman’s pass to Smith was incomplete. Smith hoped to receive the pass but was covered by two Auburn defensive players.
Forced into a fourth down by the Tigers’ defense, Bond successfully kicked a 32-yard field goal.
Junior defensive back Tyreek Chappell ran junior running back Jarquez Hunter out of bounds as he had a near breakaway with rushing only 13 yards. Junior defensive lineman Fadil Diggs earned the tackle for two back-to-back snaps.
Thorne’s pass was completed to sophomore running back Damari Alston for a 7-yard loss. Chappell forced a fumble by Alston, and Cooper recovered and returned for 63 yards into the end zone. The touchdown call was overturned.
“I feel disappointed but I’m always next play and let’s go get another one,” Cooper said.
Sophomore defensive lineman Walter Nolen and senior linebacker Chris Russell Jr. combined for a sack on Thorne. The Aggies gifted the Tigers an 8-yard loss. Ending the first quarter, Owens rushed for 8 yards on three plays before the clock hit zeros.
Graduate punter Nik Constantinou began the second quarter with a 39-yard punt. Junior cornerback Keionte Scott returned 9 yards and was tripped out of bounds by York. Thorne completed two of his first three passes for 22 yards and rushed for a 2-yard loss in the second attempt.
An incomplete pass by Thorne intended for sophomore wide receiver Jay Fair would’ve given Auburn free reign of the backfield. Thorne threw three incomplete passes during Auburn’s drive.
The 12th Man cheered after a 5-yard penalty for delay of game that was called on the Tigers. An incomplete pass separated two delays of game calls for Auburn, as they hesitated to punt.
Weigman’s only two throws of the drive were incomplete and intended for Smith and junior wide receiver Jahdae Walker. In between his attempted passes, Weigman handed it off to Moss for the only gain in the drive of 8 yards.
A short left pass to junior running back Brian Battie from Thorne was tackled away by senior defensive back Demani Richardson. Battie earned 13 yards on the play and a first down. In the next snap, Battie rushed middle for zero yards. Thorne was sacked for a loss of 3 yards by York. Auburn was then charged with its fourth delay of game.
Weigman got banged up during A&M’s offensive stretch, and after its possession was in the injury tent while Max warmed up. The X-ray was negative on Weigman’s injury. During the drive, Weigman threw two complete passes out of three attempts.
When possession switched, Russell Jr. sacked Thorne for an Auburn loss of 3 yards. Battie rushed for 5 yards, but in the next play Thorne was sacked again by senior defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson. A 53-yard field goal attempt by redshirt freshman kicker Alex McPherson was good and put up the first points for the Tigers.
After halftime, Thorne was sacked by Nolen for a loss of 3 yards and did not throw a complete pass throughout the drive.
Max came into the third quarter for the Aggies, and on his second pass connected with his brother, sophomore tight end Jake Johnson. The first touchdown of the game was on a second connection by the Johnson brothers with Max throwing to a wide open Jake who forced his way into the end zone.
“It was a pretty special moment throwing that touchdown to Jake,” Max said. “Me and him have been kind of waiting on that one for a long time.”

With a quarterback switch for Auburn to sophomore Robby Ashford, the Tigers were forced to punt a 40 yarder to switch possession.
“When the quarterback change happened we just had to say, ‘Hey, let’s make sure that we focus on the little things and get on our job,’” graduate offensive lineman Layden Robinson said.
In the Aggies’ next drive, Moss rushed for 14 yards combined between three plays. Max completed two-of-two passes with the last throw going deep to find sophomore wide receiver Evan Stewart for a 37-yard touchdown.

Another sack on Auburn’s Ashford for a loss of 2 yards by Cooper. In the previous play, Hunter rushed for a loss of 1-yard.
With Max’s return to the field, he connected with a wide open Smith for a 28-yard completion. Two plays later, Stewart received a 33-yard pass to put the Aggies at the Auburn 19-yard line.
Thorne re-entered the game and threw an incomplete backwards pass to Fair which was broken up by sophomore defensive back Bryce Anderson. Forced to punt twice due to a false start, Chapman punted 50 yards to Smith who gained 10.
Owens’ fumble was forced by freshman cornerback Kayin Lee and recovered by junior linebacker Eugene Asante who ran it in for a touchdown. With a second chance of possession, Max did not complete a pass in the drive.
Returning from a break on the sidelines, Ashford rushed for an 11-yard gain with the first play of the drive. The farthest rush of the drive was Battie’s 24 yards before he was forced out of bounds by Turner.
Daniels rushed for 79 yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown rush by Moss in the second and third plays. Auburn’s possession included a third quarterback trial by redshirt freshman Holden Geriner. Geriner threw seven passes with only two completed and was sacked by Cooper who ended the game with two sacks.
“Don’t try to do anything extra,” Cooper said. “Just do your job, and as long as you’re doing that your plays will come to you.”

The Aggies will look to play Arkansas in Arlington next on Saturday, Sept. 30 with another 11 a.m. kickoff.

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About the Contributor
Kylie Stoner
Kylie Stoner, Associate Sports Editor
Kylie is a journalism senior from Keller, minoring in communication and sport management. She is the Associate Sports Editor with a passion for women's sports. After graduation, Kylie hopes to pursue a career in sports media or communications.
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