Buddy Johnson and Aaron Hansford paced a dominating defensive performance as the 11th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies cruised to a 28-14 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.
Johnson and Hansford combined for 21 tackles, two TFLs and two sacks as the Aggies (3-1, 3-1 SEC) limited the Bulldogs to 21 yards and 3.6 yards per play. The Aggies totaled six sacks, forced two turnovers and blocked a punt that resulted in a first-and-goal at the Bulldogs' 1-yard line.
Hansford sacked Bulldogs quarterback K.J. Costello just prior to the blocked punt, with Aggies linebacker Chris Russell Jr. recording the block on Bulldogs punter Tucker Day. Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller, who capped an eight-play, 66-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, added his second scoring run on the ensuing snap after the block.
Johnson forced a Costello fumble with his sack midway through the third quarter, with Jayden Peevy returning the fumble 19 yards to the Bulldogs' 8. Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond followed with a 6-yard scoring pass to Ainias Smith that pushed the Aggies to a 28-7 lead.
Costello, who tossed his FBS-high 10th interception in the first quarter, was benched following his fumble.
Will Rogers provided able relief, completing 15 of 18 attempts for 120 yards and a 32-yard touchdown pass to Malik Heath with 11:11 left to play that snapped a stretch of 28 consecutive scoreless drives for the Bulldogs (1-3, 1-3 SEC).
Mississippi State recorded its first touchdown when Emmanuel Forbes returned a deflected pass 60 yards with 11:38 left in the third quarter.
Mond, the SEC Offensive Player of the Week following his 300-yard, three-touchdown effort against No. 4 Florida last weekend, had a modest showing with 139 passing yards and two scores. His 51-yard touchdown pass to Chase Lane at the 10:05 mark of the third served as a response to Forbes' pick-6 and allowed the Aggies to reclaim their two-touchdown advantage.
Spiller rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns against a Bulldogs rush defense that entered play ranked fifth nationally, allowing just 75 yards per game.
--Field Level Media