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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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Rattling Rattler: A&M beats South Carolina 30-17

Photo by Chris Swann

Freshman RB Rueben Owens (2) scores the first touchdown of the game evening the score 7-7 during Texas A&M’s game against South Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

Following a bye week, Texas A&M football returned to Kyle Field on Saturday, Oct. 28, to face off with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Both teams came into the matchup looking to find their footing. The Aggies came into the matchup 4-3 on the year with a 2-2 conference record while the Gamecocks came into the game 2-5, with a 1-4 conference record. A&M came out with a 30-17 win off the back of a fantastic defensive performance.

Everytime the defense hit the field, the team expected to get the ball right back to the offense, graduate receiver Ainias Smith said.

“I’m very thankful for the defense and the way they played,” Smith said. “I’m most definitely proud of the defense, team and coaches.”

The Aggie offense started off the game with the ball, but were forced into a three-and-out after sophomore quarterback Max Johnson threw an incomplete pass due to backfield pressure by South Carolina.

The Aggies’ defense forced the Gamecocks into a three-and-out, but the Maroon and White struggled on the ensuing drive that was marked by Johnson getting sacked three times in eight plays. A&M was forced to punt, which South Carolina took advantage of.

Senior quarterback Spencer Rattler found freshman receiver Nyck Harbor to convert a third-and-nine. Rattler found senior running back Mario Anderson on a swing pass for 18 yards on a first down, then completed a 17-yard pass to Harbor to convert a third-and-13.

Senior running back Dakereon Joyner then put South Carolina up after finding the endzone on fourth-and-goal. Joyner’s score capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive for South Carolina.

It took a little bit for A&M’s offense to respond, but the Aggies put together a six-play, 55-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter.

On third-and-four, Johnson found sophomore receiver Evan Stewart on a 15-yard sideline throw to move the chains. However, A&M got another 15 yards added after a hands to the face call on South Carolina. On third-and-four in the red zone, freshman running back Rueben Owens III went untouched on a 14-yard touchdown run to level the score at 7-7.

After the Aggie defense forced a three-and-out, Johnson and the offense drove down the field to go up 14-7.

Johnson threw a pass to his brother sophomore tight end Jake Johnson on second-and-long to make it third-and-four. On third down, Max threw to Smith who made a few defenders miss to turn a quick slant into a 26-yard gain.

Junior running back Amari Daniels was stuffed at the goal line on second-and-goal, but he ultimately finished the six-minute drive off with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.

The turning point in the game came late in the first half. With the score 14-7 in A&M’s favor, the Aggies forced the Gamecocks to punt after a sack by junior defensive lineman Fadil Diggs. Smith then caught a ball along the sideline on a corner route and made a cutback on his way to a 42-yard touchdown to give A&M a 21-7 lead into halftime.

Out of halftime, South Carolina went on a 10-play drive that ended in a 49-yard field goal after Rattler failed to connect with a receiver on a fade route.

Both teams traded three-and-outs before A&M responded with its own field goal to maintain a 14-point lead.

Max completed five of his seven passing attempts on the 13-play, 75-yard drive. A 12-yard pass to Stewart gave A&M a first down and with a targeting call on South Carolina, the Aggies moved into the redzone. A&M couldn’t convert and was forced into a field goal after two incompletions in the endzone.

The Gamecocks answered back with a touchdown-drive. Rattler completed a 23-yard pass to convert a third-and-nine and Anderson broke free for a 29-yard run to end the third quarter. The very first play of the fourth quarter, Rattler found graduate tight end Joshua Simon in the endzone to bring the score to 24-17.

A&M went up 27-17 after another field goal from junior kicker Randy Bond. South Carolina had a chance to drive the field, but Rattler mishandled and fumbled the snap on a fourth-and-one. With the ball in opponents territory, A&M wasn’t able to capitalize and Bond hit a 52-yard field goal to give A&M a late 30-17 lead.

A&M didn’t give up the lead as South Carolina went on to fumble again and the Aggies ran out the clock to take the victory.

The defense was fantastic in the win. Junior Edgerrin Cooper had seven total tackles, including a sack, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Cooper is currently playing tremendous football, coach Jimbo Fisher said.

“[Edgerrin] is like an eraser,” Fisher said. “An eraser is someone who can make game-changing plays and he’s able to do that whether he’s rushing the passer or tackling.”

Taking the jump to the next-level was really just getting more comfortable with the playbook, Cooper said.

“At this point, I feel like I can just relax,” Cooper said. “I can just see everything, compete and do what I do.”

Next for Cooper and the Aggies is an away matchup versus Ole Miss. A&M will travel to Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday, Nov. 4, with kickoff set for 11 a.m.

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About the Contributor
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
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