In a return to Texas A&M's Big 12 days, the Aggies topped No. 25 Oklahoma State in the Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl 24-21.
Big plays put A&M down early
On both of Oklahoma State’s scoring drives in the first quarter, the A&M defense allowed four plays of over 10 yards. A 57-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Braydon Johnson set up the Cowboys’ second score of the game, a nine-yard rush by senior quarterback Dru Brown to extend Oklahoma State’s lead to 14-0. The Aggies seemed to solve their woes in the second quarter though, as only two plays of over 10 yards followed to prevent another score before halftime.
“[With] the way the last game of the season started for us, our team could have said, ‘Oh, my God, here we go again,’ and didn't,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We're going to fix this. We're going to handle it. We're going to keep our poise and went back to fundamentals. They went right back to fundamentals. That's what gets you back on track. Go back to what you're taught to do each and every play, one play at a time.”
Defensive effort answers Cowboys’ early offensive outburst
Despite Oklahoma State’s early lead, the A&M defense stifled the Cowboys for much of the game from that point forward. Oklahoma State managed only 36 yards in the second quarter, less than a fourth of their first quarter total. The Aggies’ defensive stand continued into the third quarter as the Cowboys garnered only 16 yards.
“[With] the defense playing really good in the first half and holding them to low numbers, we were able to come out in the second half on offense and play to the best of our ability and make a lot of big plays when we needed to,” junior quarterback Kellen Mond said.
Mond makes up for subpar first half
With 10:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Mond took off on a 67-yard run to give the Aggies their first lead of the night. At halftime, Mond was 8-of-11 for 35 yards. He went 5-of-8 following the intermission, for 60 yards to finish the game with 95 yards and a touchdown through the air. But more impressive than his passing performance was his rushing, which earned him the title of MVP of the Texas Bowl. Mond led the Aggies on the ground for the fourth time this season, accumulating 117 yards on 12 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give A&M its first lead of the night.
“I almost got tackled from behind, but thank God I didn't,” Mond said.