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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Two touchdowns from Kirk surge Aggies to 38-17 upset over Sun Devils

Kirk+celebrates+with+Donovan+Wilson+after+scoring+a+66+yard+touchdown.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Bryan Johnson

Kirk celebrates with Donovan Wilson after scoring a 66 yard touchdown. 

Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray were both utilized, but the Texas A&M defense and two touchdowns from freshman receiver Christian Kirk were what geared the Aggies to a 38-17 win over Arizona State Sun Devils.
“For us, to come in and play the way we played for 60 minutes is really something we can build off of,” Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Anytime you win a game like that, it wasn’t one person. It was a three phase win. Offense did what we needed to do and late in the game, the defense stayed solid. The special teams were outstanding.”
A&M (1-0) named Kyle Allen the starting quarterback approximately two weeks ago, but the sophomore and Murray interchanged four times. Allen threw 15-for-26 for 198 yards and two passing touchdowns, while also obtaining one on the ground. Murray amassed 49 yards through the air after going 4-for-9, but rushed the ball six times for 69 yards. Both quarterbacks threw an interception.
“I can’t say enough about those guys,” Sumlin said. “I told Kyle after he scored the touchdown on the run and he came over, I said, ‘hey listen, that’s big time because a year ago, you wouldn’t have done that.’ Kyler came in and gave us a spark and really brought the crowd and our guys into it right before the half.”
Allen finished the fourth quarter in its entirety, however. The Arizona native extended the lead to 24-14 with a 12-yard scamper to cap off a nine play, 84-yard drive. The Aggies went onto score 14 more points in the fourth to put the Sun Devils away.
The game started slow, as the first score came with 20 seconds left in the first quarter after a 9-yard touchdown pass from Allen to senior running back Tra Carson.
Both teams struggled offensively for the majority of the first half, but Kirk was able to heavily shift the momentum to A&M with a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown, increasing the lead to 14-0. It was the first time a freshman returned a punt for six with the Aggies since Dante Hall in 1996.
When the Sun Devils made it a one possession game with a 23-yard field goal, Kirk brought the swagger back to the Aggie sidelines after a 66-yard touchdown pass from Allen. Making it 31-17 with 3:45 left, Kirk’s score secured the win.
“Christian Kirk, he’s a young guy but he’s a great player,” Carson said. “He comes in and works extremely hard and he’s one of the hardest working on the team as a freshman. That says a lot about what type of player and person he is. We’ve seen him make plays in practice all the time so we expect big things from him.”
No. 15 ASU (0-1) quarterback Mike Bercovici suffered dealing with the combination of defensive ends Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett all evening. Together, the duo combined for 6.5 TFLs, six sacks and three forced fumbles.
Before the contest, it was announced that Zaycoven Henderson and A.J. Hilliard are suspended for two games. Julien Obioha and Richard Moore also missed action for reasons unknown, but most likely injury. Otaro Alaka dressed out, but did not see the field.
Nevertheless, the A&M defense registered 14 TFLs, nine sacks and five forced fumbles, while recovering two. The nine sacks are the most by an Aggie defense since 1995, and the 14 TFLs are the most in the Sumlin era. Sumlin said much of that is because of new defensive coordinator John Chavis.
“We wouldn’t have been so aggressive in our pursuit [without Chavis],” Sumlin said. “As I’ve said before, I’ve always had respect for him as a coach playing against his defenses and philosophically how he does things. I think it was a good fit for us and a good fit for him too.”
While Kirk raised some eyebrows with 106 yards on six receptions, Carson delivered 96 yards on the ground on a career-high 29 carries. James White saw action too, but missed the remainder of the contest after his second carry, where he got injured.
Along with White, other notable injuries occurred in punter Drew Kaser and Murray. Their statuses are unknown, but both were seen returning to the sidelines before the conclusion of the game.
The Aggies will host their first game in the completely renovated Kyle Field next Saturday when Ball State hits the field at 6 p.m.

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  • Freshman wide receiver Christian Kirk racked up over 224 all-purpose yards and two total touchdowns in his college football debut.

    Photo by Bryan Johnson
  • Kyle Allen was 15-26 in the passing game against Arizona State, scoring two touchdowns. 

    By: Bryan Johnson
  • Garrett recorded two sacks and had 2.5 TFLs against the Sun Devils. 

    By: Bryan Johnson
  • Kyler Murray took his first snap in an A&M uniform against Arizona State. 

    By: Bryan Johnson
  • Both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray lined up in the Aggie backfield in the season opener. 

    By: Bryan Johnson
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