COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Missouri needed a win over No. 9 Texas A&M to become bowl eligible.
Instead the Tigers ended their tough first season in the Southeastern Conference with a 59-29 loss to the Aggies on Saturday night.
Johnny Manziel threw for 372 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores to lead A&M to the win.
The Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC) scored touchdowns on their first six drives to build a 42-7 halftime lead and coast to their first 10-win season since 1998.
“We could not get off the field on defense, and offensively we had our struggles,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “The combination is not very good.”
About the only drama in this one came when Manziel, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, was shaken up on a tackle at the end of a run in the first quarter.
But Johnny Football missed just four plays before returning with a brace on his left knee. And it didn’t seem to slow him down one bit.
The Aggies were up 21-0 when he returned, and he threw touchdown passes on three straight possessions to end the first half.
He scored on an 18-yard run to start the third quarter, and added another rushing touchdown when he bulled in from 1-yard out early in the fourth.
Manziel added 67 yards rushing and completed 32 of 44 passes on Saturday. He has thrown for 24 touchdowns and ran for 19 this season.
“We don’t act like this is just real unusual that they scored some points. It’s not,” Pinkel said. “We’re talking about a great quarterback. I’m certainly disappointed we didn’t play better (but) the things he did to us, he did to a lot of people.”
The win snaps A&M’s three-game losing streak to Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC), and will keep the Tigers from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.
“The last three years I’ve been here we always went to a bowl game,” senior running back Kendial Lawrence said. “So this is tough to end this way.”
Backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser started for Missouri with James Franklin out after having a concussion last week. He threw for 276 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Pinkel said Franklin was still experiencing sensitivity to light and sound midweek, and there was no way he could have played Saturday.
Pinkel was unhappy that his offense couldn’t get going early.
“We had our struggles,” he said. “It’s been a problem all year and not having James in there … certainly didn’t help.”
Lawrence had 16 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown to surpass 1,000 yards rushing this season.
After Manziel’s touchdown run in the third, Taylor Bertolet hit a 50-yard field goal.
L’Damian Washington got in front of the defense on a 74-yard catch and run near the end of the third quarter to cut A&M’s lead to 52-16. Berkstresser tossed another touchdown with about seven minutes left.
Manziel was intercepted by E.J. Gaines late in the third quarter, and the Tigers capitalized on that turnover with a 1-yard run by Berkstresser early in the fourth.
Manziel’s last touchdown run came with about 12 minutes left to extend Texas A&M’s lead to 59-23. He returned for one play of the next drive before being going to the bench to a round of applause as he flashed the Aggies’ `Gig `Em’ sign.
The Aggies are hoping that Saturday’s performance will give Manziel a final push before Heisman voting closes. A group a fans unfurled a homemade sign that read (hash)heisMANZIEL during the game.
When he was shaken up, Manziel was brought down by a tackle to his left leg and held his left knee. He remained on the turf for a couple of minutes while trainers checked him out. The crowd was silent for a bit before a chant of “Johnny, Johnny” erupted.
He was helped to his feet and walked off the field on his own power. Backup Jameill Showers went in for the next play and Christine Michael scored his second touchdown on a 38-yard run to push A&M’s lead to 21-0. Manziel missed the first three plays of A&M’s next possession, before returning to start the second quarter.
He capped his first drive back with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Swope to make it 28-0.
Texas A&M got the ball back after a fumble. Manziel was under heavy pressure on the ensuing drive, and escaped two diving defenders to throw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans on the run.
His next touchdown pass was much the same as he wriggled out a defender diving at his leg and juked another defender before running to the opposite side of the field and finding Uzoma Nwachukwu to make it 42-0.
“We had a lot of mistakes starting from the beginning of the game,” Lawrence said. “We just weren’t executing as good as we can.”
The Tigers used a fake punt to extend a drive and Lawrence scored on a 4-yard run just before halftime to leave A&M up 42-7.
Michael got A&M going with a 1-yard touchdown run on its first drive to make it 7-0.
A 2-yard run by Ben Malena pushed the lead to 14-0.