Johnny Manziel showed off his Heisman form in his first start of the 2013 season, throwing for 426 yards and three touchdowns to lead seventh-ranked Texas A&M to a 65-28 rout of Sam Houston State at Kyle Field.
Forced to sit out the first half of last week's season-opening win over Rice as the result of an NCAA investigation as to whether he received compensation for signing various memorabilia pieces, Manziel completed 29-of-42 passes with one interception while adding a rushing touchdown before being removed late in the third quarter with the Aggies comfortably ahead.
"The biggest thing that's helped probably is just being around these guys, being in this building and having my teammates and still being able to be around them," Manziel said of the distractions. "It was easy to block all the stuff out, get off everything, not read anything and just grow with my teammates and continue to get a better bond with them and just spend time with them."
Tra Carson contributed two rushing scores for Texas A&M (2-0), while Mike Evans racked up 155 yards on seven catches as Manziel's favored target.
Sam Houston State (1-1), ranked fourth in the latest Sports Network FCS Top 25, received a three-touchdown effort from Timothy Flanders that included 170 rushing yards on 19 carries. Brian Bell threw for a pair of touchdowns in a losing cause.
Manziel's evening actually didn't start off smoothly, as he was intercepted by Desmond Fite deep in Bearkats territory on the Aggies' initial drive. An offsides penalty negated the turnover, though, and Texas A&M eventually reached the end zone on Carson's 1-yard run just over four minutes in.
Sam Houston State countered with a 6-play, 74-yard series highlighted by Keshawn Hill's 36-yard run and ending on Flanders' 11-yard scamper that tied the game at 7-7.
Manziel was picked off again deep in SHSU territory on the Aggies' subsequent possession, with this one by Eric Fieilo holding up. However, the Bearkats went three-and-out and Texas A&M netted touchdowns on its next two trips.
Sabian Holmes hauled in a Manziel strike for a 27-yard score that put the Aggies back ahead late in the first quarter, and Manziel later orchestrated a mammoth 14-play, 93-yard march capped by a Ben Malena plunge from a yard out that extended the lead to 20-7 after Taylor Bertolet missed the extra point try.
Manziel was on point again to increase Texas A&M's cushion before the half closed out, hitting Derel Walker for a 32-yard gain into SHSU territory and firing a 20-yard scoring delivery to Ja'Quay Williams shortly afterward that made it a 20-point game with 4:23 before the intermission.
The Bearkats had an answer, though, as Flanders turned a short pass from Bell into a 33-yard score less than 2 1/2 minutes after Williams' touchdown.
Texas A&M went into the break up 30-14 after Bertolet connected on a 35-yard field goal on the final play of the half. However, Flanders ripped off a 68- yard run on Sam Houston's second snap from scrimmage in the third quarter to pull the Bearkats within nine.
Sam Houston State got no closer, though, as the Aggies put up touchdowns on their next four drives to pull away.
Manziel led an 11-play, 72-yard sequence that resulted in Carson's second 1- yard touchdown of the night. The star quarterback then completed all three of his passes for 63 yards on the Aggies' next possession, including a 10-yard score to Brandon Williams that lengthened the margin to 44-21 just past the midway stage of the third quarter.
The Bearkats briefly struck back when Bell hooked up with Torrance Williams for a 75-yard touchdown, but gave A&M a short field by failing on an onsides attempt on the ensuing kickoff. Malena scampered 25 yards to put the Aggies inside the red zone, and Manziel crossed the goal line on a 6-yard run for a 51-28 lead with 5:24 left before the fourth quarter.
Bell was then intercepted on each of the Bearkats' next two drives, the first of which Nate Askew returned 30 yards for a touchdown and a 30-point differential.
Manziel was pulled afterward, with freshman backup Kenny Hill tossing a 14- yard touchdown pass to Travis Labhart with 1:15 remaining in the third for the game's final points.
The Aggies finished with 714 total yards of offense, including a school-record 500 through the air ... Bell completed just 6-of-15 throws for 137 yards ... Texas A&M posted a 47-28 victory over the Bearkats last November, with Manziel throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for 100 yards and two more scores ... The Aggies now own a 12-0 lead in the overall series ... Sam Houston State has advanced to the FCS championship game in each of the last two seasons, falling to North Dakota State both times.