College Station, TX – Running back Mike Gillislee led the No. 24 Florida Gators to a 20-17 victory over Texas A&M, scoring both of Florida's touchdowns and spoiling the Aggies' season opener at Kyle Field.
Gillislee scored on a 4-yard touchdown run on the Gators' first drive of the game to give them an early 7-3 lead. Trailing the Aggies 17-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the senior running back for Florida powered his way across the goal line on a 12-yard carry to give the Gators the lead. He finished with 83 yards on 14 carries.
Making their first trip to Texas since 1982, Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) dominated the time of possession in the second half, 20:06 to 9:54. Saturday's matchup was the first in-conference game between Florida and Texas A&M, as the Aggies officially became a member of the SEC after 16 seasons as an affiliate of the Big 12.
"Coming into this environment, which is a pretty solid environment, I thought our guys responded well, hung in there and did what we had to do to win the game," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "We're going to have a lot of games like this. It's just who we are."
The Aggies (0-1, 0-1) led the Gators 17-10 at the end of the first half, but failed to score in the third and fourth quarters, starting the Kevin Sumlin head coaching era off in losing fashion.
"We didn't make enough plays in the second half to be effective offensively and penalties also got us behind the chains," Sumlin admitted. "Those are things that we have to address that we've been addressing. Obviously that point was not taken."
Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel became the first quarterback since 1944 to open the regular season as the signal caller for Texas A&M and played very well. He completed 23-of-30 passes, throwing for 173 yards and rushing for another 60 on 17 carries and a touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel overcame eight sacks from an intense Texas A&M pass rush to throw for 162 yards on 13-of-16 completions. His 39-yard strike early in the fourth quarter to Omarius Hines set up Gillislee's second touchdown run of the game.
Florida wide receiver Jordan Reed led the Gators in receptions, hauling in five catches for 59 yards. Mike Evans was Manziel's primary target, catching a game-high seven passes for 60 yards.
Damontre Moore was a big part of the Aggies' pass rush, finishing with seven tackles and three sacks for a total loss of 21 yards.
After successful offensive production in the first half, Texas A&M's offense stalled over the final two quarters. After tallying 269 yards of offense in the first two quarters, the Aggies were held to just 65 yards through the air and on the ground combined over the final two periods.
On the Aggies' second possession of the game, Manziel rushed for an 11-yard touchdown on a 13-play, 81-yard scoring drive.
Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis went 2-for-2 on field goal kicks, including a 51- yarder with less than two minutes to play in the first half to cut Texas A&M's lead to 17-10.
The Gators and the Aggies met for just the third time in history ... Texas A&M's first game against Louisiana Tech was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac and has been rescheduled for Oct. 13 ... The Gators will travel to Tennessee next week to take on the Volunteers ... the Aggies will hit the road to take on Southern Methodist University next week.