Jack Holmes, KPRC contributor
No. 12 Texas A&M took care of business in their season opener on Thursday night, routing Texas State 41-7 at Kyle Field.
As with any college football game, there were some moments that were better than others.
Here are the best and worst moments of the Aggies’ season-opener:
Best Touchdown Catch
To start the fourth quarter, Kellen Mond found junior wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon for a one-yard touchdown in the back-right corner of the end zone. It was a little more than that, though.
Mond placed the ball where only Ausbon could reach it, as the receiver went up and came down with the ball pinned to the outside of his right leg. Ausbon held the ball secure and never let it touch the ground for the Aggies’ fifth touchdown of the game, making the score 38-0.
Ausbon ended the game with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown, including a 40-yard reception along the left sideline that set up running back Jashaun Corbin for a one-yard rushing touchdown.
Best Touchdown Run
With the Aggies up 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Mond took a snap in shotgun from the five-yard line and immediately bounced out to the right. The junior beat three Bobcat defenders to the edge, diving into the end zone just inside the pylon to score the Aggies’ third touchdown of the night.
Mond had a strong season opener, passing for 194 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while adding the one touchdown run.
The offense was backed up inside their own 15-yard line late in the third quarter, before Aggie freshman running back Isaiah Spiller cut through a gap on the right side of the offensive line, dodged two defenders at the next level and ran for 86 yards to the one-yard line. It was the 10th-longest run in school history for the 220-pounder, who was slow to get up after the play but appeared to be okay. The run led to the aforementioned touchdown connection between Mond and Ausbon to start the fourth quarter.
The Aggie offense were not the only ones making plays, as the defense played their part by forcing turnovers on Thursday night. The most spectacular one came from senior cornerback Roney Elam who went up and snagged a pass from Gresch Jensen with one hand at the 50-yard line. Elam placed himself directly in front of the receiver and high-pointed the ball, returning the Aggies’ third interception of the first half for 24 yards.
A&M forced four interceptions on Thursday night, the most in a game by A&M since 2006. Myles Jones, who started in place of the suspended Debione Renfro, had two, while Leon O’Neal Jr. had the other.
The Aggies were driving down the field midway through the third quarter when Mond threw an interception at the goal line from seven yards out. He was looking for wide receiver Quartney Davis in the middle of the end zone but placed the ball much too low. Senior linebacker Bryan London II pounced on an easy opportunity and stopped what would have been the Aggies fifth touchdown of the night. It was Mond’s only mistake in what was an otherwise strong performance in his season debut.
Despite rolling past Texas State, the Aggies got off to an inauspicious start on Thursday night. Mond found Davis for a 14-yard completion on the first play of the game, but the following series amounted to nothing. Corbin ran for five yards, before a short pass to Ausbon went for no gain. On third down, Mond was almost sacked and he threw the ball 10 yards clear of any player on the field, forcing A&M to punt on their first possession. Obviously, the Aggies figured things out.
Worst Running Game
Texas State... by far. The Bobcats only managed eight yards rushing on fifteen carries against a stout Aggie defensive front. That is the fewest yards allowed by an A&M defense since 2004, when they held Wyoming to minus-three yards. No matter the opponent, holding an offense to single digits on the ground is a rare occurrence in college football. Linebacker Buddy Johnson led the way up front, recording seven tackles, including one-and-a-half for a loss. The Aggies have some monsters in the front seven.