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

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Sixth sense
Neil Jhurani, Sports Writer • June 18, 2024

There’s nothing quite like Omaha when June rolls around.  Fans from across the country head to Charles Schwab Field to watch their teams...

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024
Advertisement
Enjoying the Destination
Enjoying the Destination
Cara Hudson, Maroon Life Writer • June 17, 2024

For the history buffs, there’s a story to why Bryan and College Station are so closely intertwined. In 1871 when the Texas Legislature approved...

Advertisement
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Sixth sense
June 18, 2024
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

Locked Down

Junior+linebacker%26%23160%3BOtaro+Alaka%26%23160%3Bhad+five+tackles+against+Ole+Miss.
Photo by Photo by Spencer Russo

Junior linebacker Otaro Alaka had five tackles against Ole Miss.

OXFORD, Miss. — Former Texas A&M head coach Bear Bryant once said that defense wins championships.
And while the Aggies were not contending for any sort of title Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, a championship defensive effort in the second half aided A&M (7-4, 4-3 SEC) in a tight 31-24 victory over Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5 SEC).
In the final 30 minutes, the Aggie defense yielded a shutout, and limited the Rebels to a mere 66 total yards, four first downs and forced six punts on eight drives.
“Credit to our staff, we made some adjustments at halftime, we tried to contain the quarterback,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “I thought that defense did a nice job in the second half of really creating more negative yardage plays, sacks. The issue was with the quarterback and that translated into them not putting points on the board in the second half and giving us a chance to win.”
Adjustments were in dire need after the Rebels ran wild on offense in the first half, recording 325 total yards while taking a 24-21 lead at the break.
“We were more of a coverage team in the first half,” Sumlin said. “[Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu] got loose and converted some third downs on his own.”
Freshman safety Derrick Tucker’s 19-yard pick-six with 8:04 in the third quarter may have been the most pivotal play of the night, which gave A&M its first lead of the game, one the Aggies would not relinquish.
Despite his youthfulness, Tucker stepped up mightily and played beyond his years, recording a game-high 14 tackles.
“Derrick Tucker had a great game, especially with him being such a young guy — he’s the future,” sophomore running back Trayveon Williams said. “That pick-six really helped us out and gave us a little spark.”
Tucker was also responsible for forcing the Rebels’ only other turnover, stripping Dawson Knox of the ball after a catch just before he hit the ground. The forced fumble was critical inside the Aggie 35-yard line.
“They shut us out in the second half when they had a pick-six and ultimately the turnovers were the difference,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said. “You can’t turn the ball over and win.”
Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was held to 189 passing yards on 19-of-34 attempts. The junior came into the contest averaging 389.3 yards per game since becoming the Rebels starter three games ago.
In the second half, Ta’amu was only 7-of-19 for 51 yards passing. The Aggies were prone to surrender large passing plays in previous weeks, but only allowed two passes of 20-plus yards this game, both of which were first-half Rebel touchdowns.
Junior defensive end Landis Durham said defensive line coaches Terry Price and David Turner told the unit at halftime they would have to be the ones to win the game. It would also have to be done without key defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, who was ejected for targeting just before the break.
When called upon, they rose to the occasion. An abundance of pressure troubled Ta’amu, as the Aggies racked up three sacks, all in the second half.
“We needed some young guys in the interior D-Line to step up and that’s exactly what they did,” Durham said.
Strong play by the A&M front seven allowed its secondary to make coverage adjustments and stand tall against a stout Ole Miss receiving corps on a windy night in Northwest Mississippi.
“They were able to get pressure on the quarterback, so that was tough on Jordan [Ta’amu] and I think it was hard with the conditions, especially throwing that deep ball down the field,” Luke said. “It was a tale of two halves for us.”
Penalties proved costly for Ole Miss in the second half, too, as the Rebels were flagged 11 times for 87 yards. None were more crippling than a pair of facemasks during A&M’s final drive of the game, which helped set up Daniel LaCamera’s 18-yard field goal with 1:59 to go ­— the only offensive points scored on either side in the final 30 minutes.
“We were shooting ourselves in the foot a lot of the times with a lot of penalties,” Ole Miss running back Jordan Wilkins said. “We have to play a lot cleaner game.”
The A&M defense needed one final stop, though. Four plays later, cornerback Charles Oliver, who returned from injury after missing the past two games, broke up a pass on fourth-and-2 to secure the win for the Aggies.
“We knew we were going to have to be back out there at the end of the game and knew we were going to have to step up and make a play and that’s what we did,” senior safety Armani Watts said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *