Story Poster
Jimbo Fisher
Jaylen Henderson
Edgerrin Cooper
Ainias Smith
Texas A&M Football

Henderson delivers magical night as A&M pummels Mississippi State

November 12, 2023

Somewhere in the Kyle Field bleachers Jaylen Henderson’s father, Jamie, might have jumped up, ripped off his shirt and shouted “Thank you, Jimbo!”

Hell, Jaylen, Texas A&M’s previously obscure third-string quarterback, played so well in a 51-10 drubbing of Mississippi State on Saturday night that Brad Johnson might have done it, too.

Recall, Johnson ripped off his shirt to celebrate when his son, Max, came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass against Auburn.

Had Jamie Henderson similarly celebrated, he would’ve been down to his skivvies before the fourth quarter.

By then, Jaylen had dazzled the 103,266 fans at Kyle Field with a performance as unbelievable as it was unexpected.

Making his first start in his three-year collegiate career, the transfer from Fresno State put on a show. He passed for two touchdowns. He ran for two more, including an 11-yard sideline scamper that invoked images of Johnny Manziel’s tightrope walk down the sidelines in a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma.

“His legs create a whole different dimension. You can’t just tee it up and rush because you have to worry about quarterback run and different things you do. I thought he was outstanding and his legs were huge in the game.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher on Jaylen Henderson

“His legs create a whole different dimension,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “You can’t just tee it up and rush because you have to worry about quarterback run and different things you do. I thought he was outstanding and his legs were huge in the game.”

Huge might not be a huge enough adjective to describe Henderson’s impact.

Max Johnson, once the backup to injured Conner Weigman, reportedly sustained a rib injury in last week’s 38-35 loss to Ole Miss, A&M’s third defeat in the previous four games.

The injury forced Johnson out of action and Henderson into the starting lineup.

Complicating matters, Mississippi State’s Zavion Thomas returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

So, there was Texas A&M … a reeling, ailing team playing from behind just 12 seconds into the game and starting a third-string quarterback who had not thrown a pass in a collegiate game since Nov. 25, 2021, against San Jose State. It went for a 5-yard gain.

But a gem was discovered somewhere between that rock and a hard place.

“(He was) Very calm,” Fisher said. “I was watching him out of the corner of my eye. You just wonder how guys are in pregame.

“Sometimes at the beginning of the week you’ll see guys in practice be OK. Then in the last couple of practices you’ll see them start getting nervous when the whole gamut of stuff is in there. He didn’t.

“His demeanor was calm. Answered questions. Very talkative and very informative. His questions in conversations were right on.”

Henderson admitted there were some butterflies, but they flew away quickly.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Limiting the Bulldogs to 10 points, A&M held its opponent without an offensive touchdown for the third time this season.

“There were a little bit of jitters, but I was very confident in the scheme that we had,” Jaylen said. “The team did a great job of preparing this week. Once that first snap came I wasn’t nervous any more at all.”

Instead, Mississippi State should have been rattled by the first snap.

Henderson ran for 12 yards on his first play. Two plays later, he connected with Noah Thomas for a 31-yard. Then he ran for six yards. Then he passed for 13.

Then he dashed 22 yards for a tying touchdown that opened the can of … well, you know.

And somewhere in the Kyle Field bleachers eight relatives, who had made a rushed trip from California, including Jamie and Jaylin’s mother, Shirell, began the celebration.

“I know they were going crazy,” Jaylen said. “It’s long overdue … trying to get on the field. It was a great moment for my entire family. It’s a blessing just to be here and show out in front of the family like that.”

It was indeed a blessing that his parents, brother, an aunt, cousins and their kids were in attendance. They didn’t even know he was starting until a few days ago.

“When I told them I was starting they dropped everything and got a flight,” Jaylen said. “They was like ‘Oh, really?'” My mom had a business opportunity. She just left it and came to the game. She said, ‘I can’t miss it.’”

Good call.

She didn’t miss Jaylen outrunning a defensive end to the corner and sprinting down the sideline for an 11-yard touchdown. She didn’t miss him standing strong in the face of a fierce pass rush to hit Ainias Smith on a bubble screen for a 19-yard touchdown. She didn’t miss his 11-yard touchdown pass to Jahdae Walker.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Forcing four turnovers, the Aggies enjoyed their first three interception outing in SEC play since 2015.

There were also a lot of good calls and great performances beyond those by Henderson. Indeed, A&M did everything needed to help its new starter.

The Aggies’ running game churned out 246 yards. The defense suffocated Mississippi State, which also started a third-string quarterback.

Alas, Chris Parson didn’t fare nearly as well as Henderson. He passed for only 36 yards and threw three interceptions.

That defensive effort routinely supplied Henderson and the A&M offense with prime field position.

Amari Daniels ran one yard for a touchdown to cap a series that started at the Mississippi State 31-yard line.

A Jacoby Mathews interception at the 14-yard line led to a short Randy Bond field goal. A fourth-down stop at the Mississippi State 34 set up a 52-yard field goal.

The defense provided points, too. Jared Kerr’s crunching sack of Mike Wright — who had replaced Parson — forced a fumble that Shemar Stewart scooped up and returned 43 yards for a score.

But nothing — not even five sacks, four turnovers and a defensive touchdown — would upstage Henderson’s magical night that may never be duplicated, but will be forever celebrated by his family and friends.

Torn shorts are optional.

Discussion from...

Henderson delivers magical night as A&M pummels Mississippi State

14,882 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by Gilligan
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Fun game congrats to Henderson .
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Well done!!
Papa Joe
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Congrats on using The Petrino Playbook!
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He was a great remedy for our O line. Super job.
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Enjoyed watching him play last night. Well done Henderson!
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He played great and unencumbered by the QB whisperer.
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