A&M tops Rice in opener, 52-31
Manziel's return brings clarity, scoring
Published: Saturday, August 31, 2013
Updated: Saturday, August 31, 2013 18:08
After an up-and-down first half, Texas A&M surged behind the return of starting quarterback Johnny Manziel to a commanding 52-31 victory over Rice Saturday at Kyle Field.
Junior quarterback Matt Joeckel, who started the game in place of the suspended Manziel, finished the first half 14-19 for 190 yards and one touchdown. Following halftime, though, Manziel performed at the Heisman level many became accustomed to last season, finishing the day 6-8 passing with 94 yards and three touchdowns along with six carries for 19 yards.
The story of the day, though, was the amount of freshmen starters the Aggies were forced to play due to suspensions.
"I think we learned from today," head coach Kevin Sumlin. "This is very valuable experience for these young guys, because they're going to have to contribute. There are survival lessons that [the young guys] learned today."
Running backs Ben Malena and Tra Carson combined for 158 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns, a majority of which came during the first half. For the wide receiving corps, sophomore Mike Evans, junior Malcome Kennedy and true freshman Ricky Seals-Jones combined for 224 yards on 13 receptions for three touchdowns.
According to Malena, the A&M offensive line played well, especially when running the ball.
"I think we had a pretty good ay running the ball, but there are always things we can do better," Malena said. "I think the O-Line did a great job of opening up holes."
Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue ran for 78 yards on nine carries while completing 18-29 passes for two touchdowns and 180 yards with two interceptions.
With four suspensions announced before kickoff, the Aggies began their opener down eight players. Sophomore cornerback De'Vante Harris, senior linebacker Steven Jenkins, junior defensive end Gavin Stansbury and freshman wide receiver Edward Pope were suspended two games each for violation of athletic department rules and regulations, according to an A&M press release.
Prior to Saturday, quarterback Johnny Manziel and cornerback Deshazor Everett were each suspended for one half in separate incidents. Defensive tackle Kirby Ennis and defensive back Floyd Raven, Sr. were suspended for one game.
During the game, sparks began flying as, in just one defensive drive, true freshman defensive end Daeshon Hall and junior cornerback Deshazor Everett were ejected due to fighting and targeting a defenseless player, respectively.