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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

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Watts’ overtime interception seals A&M victory over Arkansas

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Senior Armani Watts intercepts the ball at the end of overtime to seal the Aggies’ victory over Arkansas.

ARLINGTON – Texas A&M and Arkansas games at AT&T Stadium have notoriously been thrillers. Saturday’s match up against the Razorbacks provided yet another memorable game to its history.
In the end, it was Texas A&M who took the Southwest Classic trophy back to College Station, following a 50-43 victory in overtime.
The biggest play of the game came in over time when senior safety Armani Watts intercepted the ball to end the game and seal the victory for the Aggies. Following the game Watts said the defense worked on defending that play in particular.
“Our defense, we made a great call and executed it,” Watts said. “And, really, we worked on that play actually all week, tight end, getting that fullback on him. And Tyrel [Dodson] was covering it well, but I just saw the ball, so I just attacked it.”
The Razorbacks were forced to try and go for the touchdown in their possession of overtime after true freshman quarterback Kellen Mond connected with junior wide receiver Christian Kirk on first and goal to give the Aggies the seven-point advantage.
Kirk said the Aggies revisited a specific play in overtime — one that they have found success with before.
“The play that we ran in OT to win it was the same play that I scored on last week [against Louisiana–Lafayette],” Kirk said. “The defender on me slipped inside, Kellen [Mond] saw it, and, you know, it was just execution. It was a great throw by him, and just had to make the catch in a big-time time like that.”
With a 5:21 left in the fourth quarter, Arkansas took the lead over the Aggies 36-33. However just 11 seconds later the score would change to favor A&M 40-36.
Kirk broke free for a 100-yard kickoff return, tying the longest kick off returned for a touchdown in AT&T stadium history. A&M running back Keith Ford said Kirks return sparked the sideline and gave them momentum.
“It gave us the momentum. It gave us confidence, really,” Ford We already knew it was going to be a struggle, but there was just a little bit more fight in us. So that was a big play from him, and it really shifted the game around.”
In just his fourth career college game, Mond continues to show growth and improvement. According to Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, one of the things Mond improved on during the game was getting out of his comfort zone.
“So, you know, with that, he was able to do some things that he probably wasn’t comfortable with,” Sumlin said. “And then we had to get a plan together that could settle him down and give us an opportunity on third and medium to make some first downs by running the ball some more into that coverage.”
Mond threw for 216 yards, two touchdowns and completed 14 of 27 passes with an interception. Mond also led the rushing attack for the Aggies carrying the ball for 116 yards on 10 attempts.
One of the more controversial plays of the game came on what should’ve been an 89-yard touchdown run by Mond. During the play, officials whistled the play dead after Mond allegedly stepped out of bounds, however the reply showed that he did not step out of bounds. According to NCAA football playing rule 12-3-3g, if the play who has the ball is ruled out of bounds, the play cannot be reviewed.
Sumlin said during the game he received an explanation to the officials ruling. Sumlin also noted that although he was frustrated the referees made the right call based on the rule.
“When the play is blown dead by out of bounds, the play is dead at that point,” Sumlin said. “In this case, because the ball was blown dead by stepping out of bounds, it was not reviewable. And that was — that was the frustration that I had during that time. And, obviously, every play in this game is a big play. So, you know, that was the explanation I got, which was the right explanation based on the rule.”
Although the interception from Watts was the big defensive play of the game, the A&M defense recorded six sacks during the game, two of which came from junior defensive lineman Landis Durham. Following the game, Durham — a Plato native — said he was happy to have had the game he did in front of his loved ones.
“It was big-time,” Durham said. “This is what I look forward to. This is something I dreamed about growing up, just seeing them happy. I love them all. It was just really fun. I live for days like this.”
Texas A&M will be back in action next Saturday, Sept. 30, against South Carolina at Kyle Field. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.

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