After slogging by an uninspired first half, Texas A&M wanted a spark to get going.
The Aggies discovered it in Leon O’Neal Jr., whose 85-yard interception return for a landing helped sixth-ranked Texas A&M draw back in 41-10 win over Kent State on Saturday night time.
“He’s an Energizer Bunny,” coach Jimbo Fisher stated. “You’ve received to have that man. He’s a giant a part of what we do.”
O’Neal had two interceptions, with the primary coming simply earlier than halftime when he picked off Dustin Crum’s move ultimately zone. With about eight minutes left within the third, O’Neal jumped in entrance of a receiver for his second choose. He weaved round a few Kent State gamers and dashed untouched for the rating, capping the play by diving into the top zone to make it 20-3.
“When he received that choose, it lit up the entire sideline. It lit up the entire stadium,” receiver Ainias Smith stated. “I used to be like: ‘Thanks Leon, we would have liked that.’”
O’Neal choked up when recounting his rating and thanking the teammates who blocked for him.
“We all the time speak about Decide-6’s, touchdowns, stuff like that,” he stated. “Now that it’s come to fruition, it’s a giant milestone for us as a DB group.”
Devon Achane added two scores as Texas A&M received its ninth consecutive victory after ending final season with an eight-game successful streak.
O’Neal and Achane’s massive performances helped make up for a mistake-riddled night time by Haynes King, who threw three interceptions in his first profession begin.
“We did what we needed to do to win the sport,” Fisher stated. “We performed a really sloppy recreation in my view. We’ll study from the primary recreation and hopefully we’ll get lots higher.”
Fisher wasn’t proud of King’s turnovers, however preferred the way in which he responded after these miscues.
“He performed rather well,” Fisher stated. “I assumed he overcame adversity … the ball turned over and his mentality didn’t change. He stored going proper at them.”
King took over this yr for Kellen Mond, the workforce’s starter for the previous three seasons who’s now with the Minnesota Vikings. King seemed good at occasions, however usually overthrew receivers. His first two interceptions got here throwing into tight protection within the second quarter. He was 21 of 33 for 292 yards and threw two landing passes to Smith.
Crum threw for 89 yards earlier than he was changed by Collin Schlee within the fourth quarter. Schlee scored on a 1-yard run with about eight minutes left to chop it to 34-10.
“We now have great struggle, great resolve,” Kent State coach Sean Lewis stated. “There’s going to be numerous issues that we’re going to see on tape that we’re very pleased with. Clearly, there are going to be some issues that we’ve got to wash up and get higher on as nicely.”
Achane displayed the velocity that permits him to double as a sprinter on Texas A&M’s observe workforce when he ran 63 yards for a landing that prolonged the result in 27-3 with about 4 minutes remaining within the third. He added a 1-yard scoring run within the fourth and completed with 124 yards speeding.
Isaiah Spiller had 113 yards speeding for the Aggies and Smith had 100 yards receiving.
King discovered Caleb Chapman for a 53-yard acquire on the possession after Achane’s first TD, however King’s move was tipped and intercepted by Khalib Jones two performs later to finish the drive.
Smith’s second landing got here on a 14-yard reception that made it 34-3 with about 11 minutes left.
The Aggies took a 7-0 lead when Smith grabbed a 4-yard move from King on the primary drive.
Kent State reduce the result in 4 on a 30-yard discipline objective by Andrew Glass earlier than Seth Small kicked a 49-yard discipline objective for Texas A&M to make it 10-3.
King has interceptions on consecutive possessions within the second quarter with the second giving the Golden Flashes the ball at their 36. Kent State had an opportunity to tie it on the following drive, however O’Neal’s first interception of the sport preserved the lead.
King should enhance to get the Aggies the place they wish to go this season. However till he will get extra comfy, Texas A&M’s highly effective operating recreation and opportunistic protection ought to be sufficient to maintain the Aggies within the win column.
SPILLER REACHES 2K
Spiller’s work Saturday pushed him previous 2,000 yards speeding in his profession with 2,095. Spiller is seeking to construct on a stable 2020 season the place he ran for 1,036 yards and was a Doak Walker Award finalist.
Texas A&M may transfer up a spot in subsequent week’s ballot after No. 5 Georgia beat third-ranked Clemson 10-3 Saturday.
Kent State: Hosts VMI on Saturday.
Texas A&M: Face Colorado at Denver’s Empower Subject at Mile Excessive on Saturday.