Manziel leads Aggies over South Carolina St. 70-14
SEC West Division team wins non-conference game
Saturday, September 22, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin would prefer that Johnny Manziel scramble a little bit less.
But as long as he's taking care of the ball, Sumlin won't complain too much about his dual-threat quarterback.
Manziel threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more by halftime as Texas A&M built a big lead and coasted to a 70-14 win over South Carolina St. on Saturday night.
It was A&M's most lopsided win since 2005 and the first time the Aggies have scored 70 since 2003.
Manziel has thrown for seven touchdowns and ran for four more in the last two games combined without committing a turnover.
"He's comfortable outside the pocket," Sumlin said. "We'd like to keep him corralled ... but that comes with time and experience."
Two of Manziel's touchdown passes went to Uzoma Nwachukwu. All four of Nwachukwu's receptions this season have been for touchdowns.
The Aggies (2-1) were up 14-7 after the first quarter before Manziel scored on runs of 39 and 20 yards to give A&M a commanding lead.
Ben Malena had two rushing touchdowns in the first half and Texas A&M led 49-7 at halftime.
"He plays with energy and confidence," Sumlin said. "You're always happy when a guy like that who is doing so much for your team gets an opportunity to shine like that."
Dustin Harris had a 96-yard punt return for a touchdown and finished with a school and Southeastern Conference record 246 punt return yards for A&M. The former SEC record of 203 yards was set by Vanderbilt's Lee Nalley in 1948.
"The score got out of hand because of the kicking game, because the kid just returned every kind of punt known to man," South Carolina St. coach Buddy Pough said.
Richard Cue threw for 189 yards and a touchdown for South Carolina St. (1-3) of the FCS.
Texas A&M outgained South Carolina St. 448-223 and had 23 first downs to 11 by the Bulldogs. The Aggies had 800 all-purpose yards, their most since piling up 863 against Baylor in 2003.
Manziel was 15 of 20 for 174 yards passing and added 78 yards rushing on eight carries. Malena finished with 88 yards on 11 carries.
Malena put A&M up 7-0 with a 4-yard run in the first quarter. Malena started and played the entire first half with Christine Michael on the sideline a week after Michael was suspended against SMU for violating team rules.
Manziel found Nwachukwu later in the quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs got within 14-7 when Jalen Simmons found a big hole and ran 17 yards for a touchdown. That drive was helped when Steven Campbell was flagged 15 yards for roughing the passer on a blow to the head of Cue.
Manziel's first rushing touchdown was a nifty one. He hurdled a defender near the line of scrimmage and zigzagged through the South Carolina State defense for a 39-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 21-7.
He used his feet again on A&M's next possession, making it 28-7 on a 20-yard run that he capped with a dive into the end zone.
Manziel went back to the air for the next score, finding Kenric McNeal on a 30-yard touchdown pass to leave A&M ahead 35-7.
Nwachukwu kept up his streak later in the second quarter when he caught a short pass from Manziel and evaded a defender before bouncing outside and barreling into the end zone to complete the 37-yard score.
Malena wrapped up the Texas A&M's dominant first half with a 50-yard run.
Sumlin used mostly backups in the second half. Sumlin inserted Jameill Showers at quarterback for the first drive of the second half and he was intercepted by Dominique Mitchell.
But the Bulldogs couldn't capitalize on the mistake and had to punt. Harris returned it 96 yards for a touchdown to extend A&M's lead to 56-7.
It was the second longest punt return in school history.
"It's a reward to the whole special teams," Harris said. "After catching it off the bounce, I knew I had to make something happen now that I had the ball. I got amazing blocks that set me free. I knew I had to use my speed."
Michael played the second half and finished with 26 yards and had a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Lennel Elmore scored on a 39-yard pass from Cue to make it 63-14 with about 12 minutes remaining.