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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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Takeaways from A&M’s 51-10 win over Mississippi State

Photo by Ishika Samant

Freshman LB Taurean York (21) runs before Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

A rash of injuries coupled with the Texas A&M football team losing three of its last four games didn’t spell success entering its matchup with Mississippi State, yet the Aggies earned a cathartic 51-10 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Fresno State transfer quarterback Jaylen Henderson stepped into the starting role in place of sophomore Max Johnson, who suffered an injury in a loss to Ole Miss last week. Henderson took the position with ease, leading A&M to 396 total yards as the Aggies clinched a bowl berth with six wins. Defensively, A&M forced four turnovers while holding Mississippi State at bay.
Here are several takeaways from a dominant night at Kyle Field.
Henderson’s dual-threat talent
The Aggies’ offense didn’t skip a beat during Johnson’s absence. Rather, it leveled up with Henderson under center. The Los Angeles native allowed the A&M run game to flourish with 246 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came on the legs of Henderson. In the first quarter, he took a keeper 22 yards up the middle for a score before scrambling around the left side for an 11-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The success in the ground game wasn’t limited to the quarterback position. The absence of sophomore running back Le’Veon Moss allowed junior Amari Daniels, Colorado State transfer David Bailey Jr. and freshman Rueben Owens to step up with nine carries apiece. Each running back averaged at least five yards a carry, with Daniels finding the end zone in the first quarter.
The Aggies haven’t been consistently effective in running the ball this season, but Saturday’s performance showcased what the unit is capable of. Henderson adds another dimension to the offense, and his two passing touchdowns make him a balanced playmaker. Consider him another weapon at offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino’s disposal.
Defensive takeaways … literally
Mississippi State sophomore wide receiver Zavion Thomas’ 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown wasn’t an ideal start for A&M, but it would be the only time the Bulldogs found the end zone as they were limited to just a field goal on offense. True freshman quarterback Chris Parson received a rude awakening in his first collegiate start, managing just 36 passing yards while Vanderbilt transfer Mike Wright added 68.
The Bulldogs faced a quarterback injury of their own with senior Will Rogers unavailable due to injury. Rogers led Mississippi State to wins over A&M the past two years, while Parson’s inexperience was on full display with three interceptions. Sophomore defensive backs Deuce Harmon and Jacoby Mathews and junior defensive back Tyreek Chappell came down with the picks, two of which came on diving grabs.
Wright wasn’t turnover-free, though. At the start of the third quarter, he didn’t feel pressure from sophomore defensive back Jarred Kerr, who delivered a forceful hit and knocked the ball loose. Sophomore defensive lineman Shemar Stewart was in the right place, pouncing on the ball and taking it 43 yards to the house.
The Aggies’ defense has rarely been a question mark this year, and Saturday’s win showed what can happen when A&M plays complementary football. Next week’s matchup with Abilene Christian provides an opportunity to shore up on both sides of the ball in preparation for closing out the season with LSU.
Playing from start to finish
While the Aggies have shown flashes of explosiveness on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball this season, they’ve been just that: flashes. Entering Saturday, A&M had failed to deliver a consistent scoring attack in a conference game this season. That changed versus Mississippi State, as the Aggies put forth a strong effort on both sides of the ball from start to finish.
A&M entered halftime with a 34-10 lead but kept its foot on the gas to build a 41-point advantage. A score of backups entered the game in the fourth quarter, including freshman quarterback Marcel Reed. The win marked the first SEC game in which the Aggies scored multiple offensive touchdowns in both halves.
A thorn in the Aggies’ side
Not only did A&M’s win break a skid during this season, it also snapped a two-game losing streak to Mississippi State. The Aggies suffered a 26-22 loss to the Bulldogs at Kyle Field in 2021 before a 42-24 loss last year that wasn’t as close as the score may indicate. Mississippi State has won six of its last 10 meetings with A&M, including three wins in a row from 2016-18.
“Got our get back,” graduate wide receiver Ainias Smith said. “It feels great.”
Neither the Aggies nor the Bulldogs have achieved consistent success in the past decade, yet Mississippi State has had A&M’s number often. The same can be said of its Magnolia State counterpart, Ole Miss, who has also beaten the Aggies in six of their last 10 matchups.

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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