Knight runs and passes No. 9 Texas A&M to 24-13 win
South Carolina defensive back Chris Lammons (3) celebrates with teammate Bryson Allen-Williams (4) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. Texas A&M defeated South Carolina 24-13. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Trevor Knight threw for 206 yards and ran for 84 more, leading No. 9 Texas A&M to a 24-13 win over South Carolina on Saturday.
Knight also had a fumble and an interception that kept this one close. But the Aggies (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern) used a tight defense to win this one, tackling the Gamecocks (2-3, 1-3) for losses on 10 plays and keeping them out of the end zone after A.J. Turner's 75-yard touchdown run on South Carolina's first play from scrimmage.
Knight came in second in the SEC in total offense, and either threw the ball or ran it on 52 of Texas A&M's 79 plays. Trayveon Williams and James White each ran for a touchdown for the Aggies. The SEC's best rushing team had 216 yards on the ground.
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Four starters were out for Texas A&M, including last year's SEC sack leader Myles Garrett, two receivers in Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones and right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor and the Aggies were away from home for a third straight game. Coach Kevin Sumlin said he told them if they weren't careful, this could be a trap and the touchdown on the opening play could have spiraled things out of control.
''But they settled down after that first play. There was never panic on the sideline. There was never guys pressing – defense keeping us in the game, offense moving the ball in the second half,'' Sumlin said.
Knight expects everyone to be back next week. ''Those guys needed a week to heal up,'' the senior quarterback said.
The Gamecocks had chances to end their six-game losing streak to ranked opponents, but kicker Elliot Fry missed two field goals and Jamarcus King fumbled a punt with 3:12 left in the game.
''We're doing a lot of things better but we don't have a lot of margin for error,'' South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies have now started 5-0 for the third straight season. But finishing has been a problem, as Texas A&M ended 2014 and 2015 going 3-5. The Aggie offense remains quite balanced. They passed for 206 yards. Texas A&M came into the game joining Louisville and Oregon as the only teams with 1,000 yards passing and rushing.
SOUTH CAROLINA: A quarterback controversy returns for the Gamecocks. After coach Will Muschamp spent September praising Brandon McIlwain, the freshman entered the fourth quarter with fewer yards passing (34) than punter Sean Kelly who gained 36 yards on a fake punt pass. Muschamp put in season opener starter Perry Orth, who went 11-for-18 for 138 yards in the final quarter. Muschamp said he only pulled McIlwain to spread the field in the fourth quarter and he will evaluate both quarterbacks to see who plays next week.
At least three teams ahead of Texas A&M in the AP Top 25 will lose Saturday, giving the Aggies room to move up. But No. 10 Washington had an impressive 44-6 win over No. 7 Stanford on Friday, and No. 11 Tennessee beat No. 25 Georgia on the road quite improbably on a last play Hail Mary after a Georgia Hail Mary so Texas A&M may get jumped too.
Texas A&M: The Aggies can show they are playoff contenders in their next two games. No. 11 Tennessee comes to College Station next week. Then after an open date, Texas A&M is off to No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 22.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks' five-game home stand continues as No. 25 Georgia makes an unusual October trip to South Carolina.
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