Manziel leads Aggies over Miners 57-7

Johnny Manziel didn’t like the way Texas A&M’s offense was

playing early on Saturday night against UTEP, so he called an

impromptu meeting on the sidelines to get the unit back on

track.

The Heisman Trophy winner’s speech worked.

Manziel threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more scores

in less than three quarters to lead No. 12 Texas A&M to a

lopsided 57-7 win over UTEP.

The Aggies trailed by five points early before scoring 55

straight to cruise to the victory against the overmatched Miners,

losers of six straight.

”He just made a great leadership speech,” receiver Travis

Labhart said. ”Told us to get back to doing what we do.”

Manziel threw touchdown passes of 44, 15, 17 and 26 yards and

had TD runs of 10 and 49 yards before putting on his baseball cap

with 7:39 left in the third quarter.

”We started uncharacteristically slow for whatever reason,”

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. ”We were just a little bit

off the first couple of series’ … but we kicked it into

gear.”

The Miners were done in by four turnovers, including two

interceptions by A&M’s Howard Matthews.

”Second quarter the turnovers really killed us,” UTEP coach

Sean Kugler said. ”Really put our defense in a tough spot.”

UTEP’s Blaire Sullivan was making his first start with Jameill

Showers, a transfer from A&M, out with a shoulder injury.

Sullivan threw for 71 yards with three interceptions.

The Aggies finished with 564 total yards for their eighth

straight game with at least 500 yards.

Manziel had with 273 yards passing and 67 yards rushing. Two of

his touchdown passes went to Labhart, a former walk-on who had four

receptions for 83 yards.

Sumlin was encouraged by another solid performance by his

defense after the unit struggled for most of the year. He was

especially pleased by the turnovers the group forced.

”Anytime you do that you’re starting to get some confidence,”

he said. ”We’ve been able to rotate a lot of different guys over

the last two weeks and get some energy.”

The Aggies were up 36-7 at halftime and picked up where they

left off in the third quarter. Manziel zigzagged down the field

with a bevy of defenders trailing him on a 49-yard touchdown run to

push the lead to 43-7.

Manziel connected with Mike Evans for a 26-yard touchdown later

in the third to make it 50-7 and end Manziel’s night. A 57-yard

reception by LaQuvionte Gonzalez the play before set up the

score.

Texas A&M’s Floyd Raven blocked a punt on UTEP’s first

possession that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety

to make it 2-0. It was A&M’s first blocked punt for a safety

since 2008.

The Miners forced a three-and-out on A&M’s first drive to

end a streak of seven straight games with a touchdown on the first

possession for the Aggies. It was only the second time since coach

Kevin Sumlin took over for the 2012 season that the Aggies went

three plays and punted on the game’s first possession.

UTEP took a 7-2 lead when Aaron Jones ran 4 yards for a

touchdown on the ensuing drive.

Manziel and the Aggies got going after that, taking the lead on

a 44-yard touchdown reception by Labhart. Labhart was wide open on

the play and waltzed into the end zone untouched to make it

9-7.

Tra Carson’s 1-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 15-7.

Drew Kaser’s run failed after the touchdown.

De’Vante Harris gave A&M the ball right back when he

intercepted Sullivan on the next play.

”We fed off each other the whole night,” Harris said. ”Had

people making plays. We gelled and all just played with good

emotion.”

Manziel’s 50th career touchdown pass came when he found Malcome

Kennedy on a 15-yard score that left A&M up 22-7.

UTEP’s Leslie Jordan fumbled on the next possession and Darian

Clairborne recovered for the Aggies. Manziel dived headfirst into

the end zone at the end of a 10-yard run to give A&M a 29-7

lead.

UTEP’s turnover woes continued on the next drive when Sullivan

was intercepted by Matthews. The Aggies cashed in on the miscue two

plays later when Manziel found Labhart ridiculously open again on a

17-yard touchdown reception to leave them up 36-7 at halftime.

Freshman Kenny Hill took over when Manziel went to the bench and

he led a drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run by Trey

Williams that made it 57-7.

Carson was injured and taken off the field on a stretcher in the

fourth quarter, but Sumlin said after the game that he was OK. He

was hurt when he was tackled on a carry and fumbled the ball. He

was sitting up and moving his arms and legs right after it happened

before lying down on his back on the ground.

Trainers tended to him for a couple of minutes before a

stretcher was brought onto the field and he was strapped to it and

taken off the field.

Sumlin said Carson was complaining of neck pain so he was placed

on the stretcher as a precaution. X-rays were negative and he was

not taken to the hospital and remained at the stadium with the team

after the game.

”All signs point to it being nothing very serious,” Sumlin

said.