Published November 03, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – UTEP got off to a solid start and was leading No. 12 Texas A&M early on Saturday night.
Turnovers on three straight possessions in the second quarter helped the Aggies build a big lead and cruise to a 57-7 win.
"Second quarter the turnovers really killed us," UTEP coach Sean Kugler said. "Really put our defense in a tough spot."
Johnny Manziel threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more scores in less than three quarters to lead A&M to the victory.
The Aggies trailed by five points early before scoring 55 straight to roll to the victory against the overmatched Miners, losers of six straight.
"I really felt the defense up to that point was really competing well," Kugler said of the second quarter. "It's tough when you give an offense that good a short field, and we did it more than once."
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.
The Miners were done in by four turnovers, including two interceptions by A&M's Howard Matthews.
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.
"We have a lot to learn from this game and move on for the rest of the season," Sullivan said. "There were just a lot of mental mistakes on my part and I can do better."
Despite Sullivan's struggles, Kugler saw some positives from his outing.
"He made a few plays with his legs and made a couple of nice throws," Kugler said. "He's just got to be more consistent and sometimes his decision-making has got to be a little bit better with his throws."
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 former walk-on Travis Labhart, who had four receptions for 83 yards.
The Aggies were up 36-7 at halftime and picked up where they left off in the third quarter. Manziel zig-zagged 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 his 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.
The Aggies had to punt on their next two possessions before Tra Carson's 1-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 15-7. Drew Kaser's run for a two-point conversion failed.
De'Vante Harris gave A&M the ball right back when he intercepted Sullivan on the next play.
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 Claiborne 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.
After Manziel went to the bench, freshman Kenny Hill took over and led a drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run by Trey Williams that made it 57-7.