Rapid Reaction: Sloppy Texas A&M outlasts Vanderbilt to win 17-12
Vanderbilt at No. 10 Texas A&M wasn’t supposed to be a four-quarter ball game. The Aggies, entering Year 3 under Jimbo Fisher, received preseason buzz as a potential championship contender. Derek Mason’s Commodores, who went 3-9 (1-7 SEC) last season, started true freshman Ken Seals at cornerback on Saturday. Seals notably didn’t have the help of the “Big 3” on offense, all departed from last year’s team. The Aggies were 30-point favorites, but won by just five, 17-12.
The close win took a Leon O’Neal interception with 6:39 left to stop a Commodores drive in Aggie territory. Texas A&M had to make another stop, as the offense failed to close out the game on the possession that followed the O’Neal interception. Mike Elko’s unit came through again, forcing a Vanderbilt punt to give Texas A&M the ball back with 3:24 left. This time, the Aggies were able to close it out.
An ugly first half of football had Texas A&M leading just 7-5 over Vanderbilt at the half. Dropped passes, a lost fumble and a safety on a punt return were among the lowlights.
“Very poorly,” Fisher said of his team’s play at halftime. “We had two major screw-ups on special teams. That is ridiculous what happened there.”
“I’m not happy with the line of scrimmage at all and we’ve got to be smarter with the football,” he added.
The Aggies offense came out hot to start the second half, driving 75 yards in just three plays for a touchdown to open the third quarter and extend their lead to 14-5.
But this one wasn’t one of those cases of a switch flipped and the favorite goes on to win big. The Commodores were able to hang around. Just when it looked like Texas A&M was getting ready to cruise into an easy victory, a fumble by Kellen Mond gave Vanderbilt some life.
The Commodores capitalized on the opportunity, going 43 yards over nine plays for a touchdown. The 7-yard pass to Abdur-Rahman was the first of Seals’ career. Texas A&M responded with a 9-play, 68-yard drive resulting in a field goal, extending the Aggies’ lead to 17-12.
Isaiah Spiller was the offensive highlight for Texas A&M, recording 117 rushing yards on just 8 carries. Mond was 17-of-28 passing for 189 yards and a touchdown. Mond finished 17-of-28 passing for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Seals went 20-of-29 for 150 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions.