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Texas A&M Football

Post Game Review: Texas A&M 27, Auburn 10

September 23, 2023
14,114

Survived.

With Conner Weigman’s stint lasting less than one half due to injury, Max Johnson marched out and posted 123 yards and two touchdowns to spoil Hugh Freeze’s undefeated record as an Auburn Tiger as Texas A&M prevailed 27-10.

A&M’s offense kicked off the day with some miscues, with a one-yard gain and a false start penalty. Yet, reliable Ainias Smith made up some ground with a 13-yard reception, and Amari Daniels punched his way across the line to gain.

A&M shifted the sticks again thanks to a powerful rush by Le’Veon Moss, and another running back made a play as Rueben Owens caught a chain-moving pass. However, Weigman was sacked to stall the opening drive as Randy Bond hit a 51-yard field goal to put points on the board, 3-0.

D.J. Durkin’s defense struggled two weeks ago against Miami, but Saturday was a sparking performance as for a second consecutive week the Ags held an opposing offense out of the end zone.

Shemar Turner lit up Payton Thorne to kick off Auburn’s first offensive drive. Taurean York made a play up the middle, and on third down, Thorne threw incomplete, hurried by Turner once again for a three-and-out to start the day.

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Ainias Smith led the way for Texas A&M’s receiving corps with five catches for a team-high 78 yards.

Moss turned on the burners for a 36-yard run to move the Aggies toward Auburn’s endzone. A pressured Weigman found Smith for an easy completion of 11, but that drive was disrupted by two false penalties as A&M settled for another three points from Bond, 6-0.

On the ensuring defensive possession, A&M gave up a pair of 10-plus yard rushes, followed by another duo of rushes for 15. Auburn continued to move downfield until Tyreek Chappell forced what looked like a fumble and Edgerrin Cooper picked it up and ran 63 yards to the house. However, the play was overturned due to an incomplete forward pass, yet A&M remained aggressive as Walter Nolen sacked Thorne for a loss of eight to force another Auburn punt.

A high snap forced the Auburn punter Oscar Chapman to get it off under some duress, putting the Aggies on their own 32-yard line, but A&M failed to capitalize as they could not pick up a first down.

On Auburn’s third offensive drive, a sack from Bryce Anderson pushed the Tigers back, but a series of consistent gains kept the first downs coming. A holding call pushed Auburn back 10 yards as well as a delay of game penalty to make it third-and-20. To prevent the continuation of the drive, Duece Harmon broke up a pass intended for Camden Brown.

Texas A&M’s offense responded by going three-and-out, and Nik Constantinou offered up a shaky 35-yard punt to put Auburn on their 37-yard line. A 13-yard pass kicked off the drive for the Tigers, but York showed up once again for a huge sack for a loss of three. A 15-yard rush was not enough to cross the line to gain, and Auburn punted once more.

Back on their own 9-yard line, Weigman couldn’t make anything of the drive, under constant pressure from Auburn’s defensive front. Despite limping after an Auburn defender tackled him at the ankles while finding Evan Stewart for a five-yard gain, Weigman finished the drive but went into the locker room for evaluation.

On defense, York stepped up once again with a stop on third down. Freeze sent out his offense to attempt to convert the first down, which Thorne got. Chris Russell then earned a sack, and McKinnley Jackson added another to bring the first-half sack total to four.

Alex McPherson kicked a 53-yard field goal to cut Auburn’s deficit to three right before the half, 6-3.

Looking to take advantage of a wounded A&M offense, Auburn found little success.

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Despite having a scoop-and-score taken away from him, Edgerrin Cooper finished with two sacks and three TFLs.

Fadil Diggs found running back Jarquez Hunter for a loss of one, and Nolen returned to the game to record A&M’s fifth sack of the game. An incompletion sent Auburn’s offense back to the sideline.

With no update on Weigman, Max Johnson took the field on the Tigers’ 45-yard line. The lefty hit his brother, Jake Johnson, for 10 yards and gained the first down with his legs. The sibling connection didn’t stop there.

As if they were playing catch in the backyard, Max found Jake for the game’s first touchdown of the day, 13-3.

Auburn changed it up at quarterback as Robby Ashford took over on his 25, but the unsuccessful march moved backward before the Tigers punted.

Moss strutted for a handful of short carries to move the sticks, and Smith moved them again with his fourth catch of the day. Max Johnson aired it out to a double-covered Evan Stewart, who made an insane grab in the end zone for the score, 20-3. Just the offensive execution the Aggies needed.

Nolen continued his impressive day with a tackle for loss, and Cooper tallied A&M’s sixth sack of the game.

Texas A&M’s next offensive drive was accelerated by a 28-yard gain from Smith, but the Aggies shot themselves in the foot.

On Micah Tease’s first catch of the day for 13 yards, Layden Robinson was called for holding. To follow, Stewart propelled the Aggies 33 yards downfield, but it was deemed a no-play because of an offensive pass interference call on Max Wright. The drive was washed away by two penalties on two big plays.

Auburn took a deep shot right before the third quarter expired, but the Tigers could not get anything going and tallied their fourth straight three-and-out. A&M’s defense was as hot as the temperature in College Station.

A collection of Owens’ rushes looked promising until his third of the drive took a turn for the worst. Auburn’s Kayin Lee punched the ball out of the freshman’s hands, and Eugene Asante scored the Tigers’ first (and only) touchdown of the day on a 67-yard scoop-and-score.

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Exiting late in the second quarter with an apparent injury, Conner Weigman did not return to action for the remainder of the game. Jimbo Fisher said postgame that Weigman’s X-rays were negative.

A&M’s offense went right back out on the field, but it wasn’t until third down that Max Johnson came up clutch with a gain of 14. The march ended with an incomplete pass, intended for Smith.

With 10:27 on the clock in the fourth quarter, the Tigers finally picked up their initial first down of the second half. It would not be enough.

Auburn kept trucking downfield with gains of 24, eight, four, five and six. Ashford’s shot to the endzone was broken up by Josh DeBerry, and Turner disrupted the next play. Cooper hurried Ashford on third down as he threw incomplete, but the play was repeated due to an offensive holding penalty. The repeated play was stopped short by Malick Sylla in coverage.

Needing to hold off the Tigers for five more minutes, A&M turned to its ground game, but the Aggies only needed a one-minute drive to increase the lead. Daniels took it upon himself to bulldoze his way 79 yards downfield, setting up Moss for an easy 4-yard score.

A&M’s defense held strong, forcing three straight incomplete passes before Cooper found Auburn’s third quarterback Holden Geriner to prevent Auburn from an offensive score.

The clock ticked away, and the Aggies topped the Tigers at Kyle Field to start 1-0 in conference play.

RUMBLED: Texas A&M’s pass rush stepped up when they needed to. The Aggies had six total sacks coming into the day, and A&M’s D put up four just in the first half. The eye-popping stat? FIFTEEN tackles-for-loss. The Tigers’ offense had 64 offensive plays. Texas A&M’s front seven disrupted the Tigers’ offensive efforts on 31 percent of their snaps. Geez.

STUMBLED: Only 200 total yards will not win you games in the SEC, but that is all Hugh Freeze produced in his first conference game at Auburn. The Tigers put up just 56 receiving yards the entire game. More props to the entirety of A&M’s defense.

TURNING POINT: When Weigman did not return in the second half, many Aggies grew concerned for his health AND the offense’s productivity. The one person not worried about productivity? Max Johnson, who delivered the game’s first touchdowns on back-to-back drives to open the third. The first score went to his brother, Jake, and the second was a highlight-reel snag by Stewart.

UNSUNG HERO: Taurean York was a playmaker. A three-star signee from Temple, the true freshman let A&M with 11 total tackles, including five solo stops. York was credited with a half-sack and two TFLs. He is proving he can thrive at this level.

KEY STAT: Texas A&M has not allowed an offensive touchdown in back-to-back contests. Regardless of the opponent, keeping the opposing offense out of the endzone will help win football games.

Scoring Summary

First-quarter

A&M: 9:23 - Randy Bond 51-yard field goal. Drive: 12 plays, 41 yards. TOP 5:37. Texas A&M 3, Auburn 0.

A&M: 5:31 - Randy Bond 32-yard field goal. Drive: 7 plays, 43 yards. TOP 2:19. Texas A&M 6, Auburn 0.

Second-quarter

AUB: 0:05 - Alex McPherson 53-yard field goal. Drive: 8 plays, 8 yards. TOP 4:28. Texas A&M 6, Auburn 3.

Third-quarter

A&M: 9:42 - Max Johnson 22-yard touchdown to Jake Johnson. Drive: 6 plays, 46 yards. TOP: 3:16. Texas A&M 13, Auburn 3.

A&M: 6:22 - Max Johnson 37-yard touchdown to Evan Stewart. Drive: 5 plays, 65 yards. TOP: 2:15. Texas A&M 20, Auburn 3.

Fourth-quarter

AUB: 12:16 - Eugene Asante 67-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. Texas A&M 20, Auburn 10.

A&M: 3:59 - Le’Veon Moss 4-yard rushing touchdown. Drive: 3 plays, 86 yards. TOP: 1:04. Texas A&M 27, Auburn 10.

 
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