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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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Kyler Murray accounts for 379 yards to lead A&M to 35-28 win in first start

Kyler+Murray+scrambles+down+the+field+and+tries+to+pick+up+a+first+down.
Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser

Kyler Murray scrambles down the field and tries to pick up a first down.

Texas A&M needed a spark after losing consecutive weeks. Head coach Kevin Sumlin handed Kyler Murray the keys to the offense, and the quarterback did not disappoint.
The true freshman earned his keep by aiding the Aggies to 544 yards of total offense en route to defeating South Carolina 35-28 in Kyle Field Saturday.
“Like I said Tuesday, we were going to change some things and I think it was pretty obvious that our guys were more comfortable with what we are doing today,” Sumlin said. “Our quarterback was more comfortable…Our tempo was a lot higher and in order to do that you needed to change some things.”
On the day, Murray passed 20-for-28 for 223 yards with one touchdown. Most importantly, the former Allen High School quarterback amassed 156 yards rushing on 20 carries and a score. Tra Carson was a presence in the backfield too, as the senior running back ran it on 21 occasions for 122 yards and a score. The Aggie duo is the first to gain 100-plus yards in a game since Mississippi State in 2012.
“I think coach [Spavital] did a great job of simplifying things during the week,” Carson said. “You know, making things much easier. The offensive line did a good job today opening up holes and Kyler did a great job of making the right reads.”
The Aggies (6-2, 3-2 SEC) pieced together a 10-play, 68-yard drive to open the contest, but Taylor Bertolet failed to convert it into points by missing a 24-yard field goal. After forcing a three-and-out, Murray led a methodical 9-play, 74-yard drive capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds.
South Carolina (3-5, 1-5 SEC) kept A&M on its heels defensively in the first half, scoring 21 points. The initial 14 followed the Reynolds’ touchdown. Backup quarterback Lorenzo Nunez took a reverse seven yards to even the score, and the starting quarterback, Perry Orth, took the advantage with a six-yard touchdown.
Both teams’ running backs had their taste of the end zone to make the final count at halftime. Carson pounded it in for a yard, and James White ended the half with a two-yard score. Between the A&M touchdowns, South Carolina’s Brandon Wilds found the end zone from three yards out.
The Gamecocks 21 points were the most in a first half by them all season. The A&M defense, inspired by ball-hawk Donovan Wilson, made sure they did not allow that again. Following Murray’s one-yard rushing touchdown, Wilson intercepted Orth and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
“He came up to us before that drive and said, ‘Y’all don’t sit on the bench because I’m about to get the ball back for us,’” offensive lineman Germain Ifedi said. “He’s come a long way. He came in here on a mission and is getting better week-to-week…He’s all over the field making plays, kind of like the honey badger for our defense.”
On the next drive, USC refused to go away with a 33-yard touchdown on the ground from Wilds just before the quarter ended. In the fourth, the teams traded a total of five punts — one a 71-yarder from Drew Kaser. 
Failing to convert, the Aggies handed the opposition the ball back with a 35-28 score and 1:22 left. Wilson found the ball and intercepted it on 4th and 13 from the USC 17, sealing the Aggies fate for the win.
“Donovan Wilson is one of the best nickel backs in the country,” defensive lineman Julien Obioha said. “He’s probably the best in the SEC. I’ve been saying this for awhile; we have all-conference players in every single position and Donovan Wilson, I believe, is one of those all-conference players.”
As for Kyle Allen, it can be speculated that he was the third string quarterback for the game. When Murray’s helmet popped off in the first half, Jake Hubenak entered the contest for one play. Sumlin said he would not specifically rank the players, but Hubenak was next up. Murray should be the starter next week when A&M hosts Auburn.
“[Kyler Murray] is a freshman, and he commanded the huddle as well as I’ve seen any 18-year-old command the huddle,” Ifedi said. “He’s just going to get better…We are confident in him and we look to him for that leadership.”

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  • Kyler Murray scrambles for a first down against South Carolina.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
  • South Carolina prepares to snap the ball to Connor Orth.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
  • Armani Watts, Myles Garrett and DeShawn Washington try to pressure South Carolina quarterback Connor Orth.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
  • Freshman quarterback Kyler Murray and senior running back Tra Carson chat before the play.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
  • Freshman defensive tackle Daylon Mack tackles a Gamecock.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
  • Quarterback Kyler Murray and cornerback De”Vante Harris head to the fans to celebrate their 35-28 win over South Carolina.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
  • Murray completes a pass in Texas A&M’s 35-28 win over South Carolina.

    Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser
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