No. 6 Texas A&M routs Kent State
O’Neal has 2 interceptions
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Leon O’Neal Jr. had two interceptions, returning the second one 85 yards for a touchdown, and Devon Achane added two scores to help No. 6 Texas A&M beat Kent State 41-10 on Saturday night.
It’s Texas A&M’s ninth consecutive victory after ending last season with an eight-game winning streak.
O’Neal and Achane’s big performances helped make up for a mistake-riddled night by Haynes King, who threw three interceptions in his first career start.
O’Neal’s first interception came just before halftime when he picked off Dustin Crum’s pass in the end zone. With about eight minutes left in the third, O’Neal jumped in front of a receiver for his second pick. He weaved around a couple of Kent State players and dashed untouched for the score, capping the play by diving into the end zone to make it 20-3.
King took over this year for Kellen Mond, the team’s starter for the past three seasons who’s now with the Minnesota Vikings. King looked good at times but often overthrew receivers and his first two interceptions came throwing into tight coverage in the second quarter. He was 21 of 33 for 292 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Ainias Smith.
Crum threw for 89 yards before he was replaced by Collin Schlee in the fourth quarter. Schlee scored on a 1-yard run with about eight minutes left to cut it to 34-10.
Achane displayed the speed that allows him to double as a sprinter on Texas A&M’s track team when he ran 63 yards for a touchdown that extended the lead to 27-3 with about four minutes remaining in the third. He added a 1-yard scoring run in the fourth and finished with 124 yards rushing.
Isaiah Spiller had 113 yards rushing for the Aggies and Smith had 100 yards receiving.
King found Caleb Chapman for a 53-yard gain on the possession after Achane’s first TD, but King’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Khalib Jones two plays later to end the drive.
Smith’s second touchdown came on a 14-yard reception that made it 34-3 with about 11 minutes left.
The Aggies took a 7-0 lead when Smith grabbed a 4-yard pass from King on the first drive.
Kent State cut the lead to 4 on a 30-yard field goal by Andrew Glass before Seth Small kicked a 49-yard field goal for Texas A&M to make it 10-3.
King has interceptions on consecutive possessions in the second quarter with the second one giving the Golden Flashes the ball at their 36. Kent State had a chance to tie it on the ensuing drive, but O’Neal’s first interception of the game preserved the lead.
King will have to improve to get the Aggies where they want to go this season. But until he gets more comfortable, Texas A&M’s powerful running game and opportunistic defense should be enough to keep the Aggies in the win column.
Texas A&M could move up a spot in next week’s poll after No. 5 Georgia beat third-ranked Clemson 10-3 Saturday.
Kent State: Hosts VMI next Saturday.
Texas A&M: Face Colorado at Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High next Saturday.
COPYRIGHT 2021 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.