Texas A&M topped Ole Miss in a close 24-17 win in Oxford on Saturday. Here’s what we learned.
A&M defense continues to save the game for the Aggies
Despite Elijah Blades pulling a pass interference penalty on a third-and-12, he turned it around a few plays later and forced a fumble on A&M’s 36-yard line. Buddy Johnson scooped up the ball and returned it for a 62-yard touchdown and a 17-14 A&M lead. This was the first non-offensive touchdown of the season for A&M, and its first touchdown on a fumble recovery since 2012.
On Ole Miss’s next drive, the Aggies let Ole Miss freshman running back Snoop Conner slip through for a 36-yard run to the 10-yard line, but kept the Rebels out of the end zone and forced a field goal attempt, which Justin Madubuike blocked to keep A&M in the lead.
“It was a nice play by Blades,” Johnson said. “I think he should get most of the credit because at the end of the day, he’s the one that made the strip. I just picked it up and took off running.”
Aggies find answer on punt returns
Against Alabama, the Aggies’ special teams faced uncharacteristic struggles, allowing the Crimson Tide to return punts and kicks for big-time yardage while being unable to record any of their own. That was not the case as the Aggies took on Ole Miss, however. While only allowing 22 yards on two returns, A&M garnered 105 return yards. Ainias Smith was the lone returner for the Aggies, taking over the role after Roshauud Paul’s decision to redshirt this season. Smith had four punt returns for a total of 65 yards and two kick returns for 40 yards.
Offensive line still can’t hold up
On the offense’s first play of the game, Mond was sacked for a 3-yard loss. Three more sacks would follow, resulting in a loss of 24 yards by the end of the game.