A&M strikes early and often in 38-13 win at Starkville
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 4, 2012 23:11
The atmosphere surrounding Davis-Wade Stadium was quieter than usual Saturday afternoon. Mississippi State’s football team was more accustomed to the air being filled by the sound of thousands of cowbells.
Instead, the aura was that of silence. A&M dominated in the division clash, taking home the 38-13 win in impressive fashion against the stumbling Bulldogs.
“Silence is golden,” Aggie defensive end Damontre Moore said. “At the end, people started disappearing and the bells weren’t ringing as much. We kind of set our own tone.”
Entering hostile Starkville, Miss., the Aggies weren’t to be denied a victory as the offense racked up 693 total yards on 97 plays while the defense contained MSU to 310 yards.
Leading the charge for A&M was, once again, redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, who completed 30 of 36 passes for 311 yards while rushing for 129 more and scoring twice, including a 37-yard scamper to push the Aggies to a commanding 21-0 lead late in the first half.
“We’re very fortunate to have a quarterback like [Manziel],” junior running back Ben Malena said. “With him being the great athlete that he is, he can stretch the ball with his arm or his legs. It just gives us another dimension to this great offense we have.”
A&M’s defense, considered a preseason liability, suppressed the Bulldog offense with ease, allowing all 13 points in the second half with the first-string on the sidelines.
Efficient Bulldog junior quarterback Tyler Russell wasn’t able to find his stride, completing 19 of 30 for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Meanwhile, the conference’s second-leading rusher, junior LaDarius Perkins, was held to 42 yards on the day and no scores.
“Whenever you go on the road and win, particularly in this league, it’s a team effort,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “It’s not one side of the ball. In the first half, we played well as a complete football team. There are a lot of things that we can continue to [improve].”
With still a quarter of the season left to play, the Aggies are an imposing 5-0 on the road, a statistic that will be put to the test when the team takes on undefeated powerhouse and No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa next weekend.
Despite the big-game atmosphere that’s hovering over the ranked matchup, the Aggie locker room has already begun to prevent itself from treating the top-seeded Crimson Tide like any other conference clash.
“We’re college football players, they’re college football players,” said senior linebacker Sean Porter. “We put our pants on just like they do and we’re not going to treat them any different than anybody else.”
Texas A&M (7-2, 3-2) picked up its first ranked victory against a Southeastern Conference program with the 25-point crushing of Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2).
Both the Aggies and Bulldogs exceeded preseason expectations, currently standing as the division’s third and fourth best squads, respectively, after being selected to finish fifth and sixth.