Manziel, Texas A&M fall to Auburn
College Station, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Tre Mason scored a go-ahead 5-yard touchdown with 1:19 remaining and the Auburn defense denied Johnny Manziel's late comeback bid, as the 24th ranked Tigers edged No. 7 Texas A&M, 45-41, on Saturday at Kyle Field.
Manziel's fourth touchdown pass of the day to Mike Evans gave the Aggies a 31-24 lead late in the third, but the reigning Heisman Trophy winner went down with a right shoulder injury on the first play of the fourth quarter with Texas A&M deep in Auburn territory after being driven hard into the ground on his throwing shoulder by Auburn's LaDarius Owens.
With backup Matt Joeckel in, the Aggies were forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Josh Lambo that made it 34-24 before the Tigers roared back with consecutive scoring drives.
Nick Marshall capped the first march with a 13-yard TD run, and after Joeckel and the Aggies went three-and-out, Mason ripped off a 53-yard run that set up Cameron Artis-Payne's 2-yard TD surge that gave Auburn a 38-34 lead with 9:06 left in the game.
After leaving the sideline area briefly for further evaluation, Manziel returned to the playing field and went right to work, going 7-for-7 on a 12- play, 75-yard trek that he capped with a 1-yard TD run off the right end to put the Aggies on top, 41-38, with 5:05 remaining.
Auburn (6-1, 3-1 SEC) had the final say however, as Marshall converted a pair of third downs on the Tigers' ensuing touch, including a 3rd-and-9 from the Aggies' 39, when Marcus Davis made a 27-yard grab down the right sideline.
Two plays later, Mason surged up the middle and appeared to be stopped short of the end zone, but the Auburn running back was able to stretch the ball across the goal line while laying on top of an offensive lineman to give the Tigers a four-point edge with 1:19 remaining.
"Big win for our program. Texas A&M is one of the top teams in the country on their home field. We challenged our players to improve each week, and they have done that," said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. "We've been working on getting our edge back, and we are getting closer. This was a big win for our program tonight."
Manziel moved the Aggies (5-2, 2-2) inside the Auburn 20 with a pair of completions to Evans, but on 4th-and-13 from the 21-yard line, Manziel was sacked for a 22-yard loss to seal the outcome.
"We made some adjustments at halftime and obviously had some success defensively in the third quarter," said Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. "Obviously there towards the end we had some breakdowns I have to look at the video to tell you exactly what was going on, but they're able to drive the ball and they made plays at the end when they had to make them and we didn't."
Mason carried the ball 27 times for 178 yards and the decisive score, while Marshall finished 11-of-23 passing for 236 yards with two touchdowns and added two more scores and 100 rushing yards on 20 totes for the Tigers, who have won three straight games.
Manziel put forth a valiant effort in defeat, racking up 454 yards on 28-of-38 passing with two interceptions while adding 48 yards and a score on 18 carries for the Aggies, who had a three-game win streak halted.
Evans broke his own team-record set earlier this year against Alabama with 287 receiving yards on 11 catches and caught the first of his four touchdown grabs on the game's opening drive to put the Aggies in front.
Auburn answered with a 10-play, 86-yard march that Marshall capped with a 16- yard TD run before Ryan Smith picked off Manziel on Texas A&M's next touch to set up Cody Parkey's 27-yard field goal that gave Auburn a 10-7 lead.
Manziel and Evans hooked up for another score two plays later to put the Aggies back in front, with the lanky wideout hauling in a bubble screen and tightroping the sideline en route to a 64-yard score that made it 14-10.
Manziel was intercepted deep in Auburn territory on the Aggies' next drive before Marshall led the Tigers on a lengthy 12-play, 96-yard scoring march.
Mason converted a 4th-and-1 from the Aggies' 4-yard line with a 3-yard surge to keep the march moving, and after a sack left Auburn facing 3rd-and-goal from the 13, Marshall found Quan Bray on a 13-yard scoring strike to give Auburn a 17-14 lead early in the second.
Lambo nailed a 37-yard field goal later in the frame to even the score before Manziel went back to Evans to break the tie, as the Aggies' wideout took a screen pass down the right sideline, stiff-armed a defender and reached the ball across the goal line to send the Aggies into the break with a 24-17 lead.
Auburn pulled even again on their second drive of the third quarter when Marshall hit Sammie Coates for a 43-yard score, but Manziel answered with a 33-yard scoring strike to Evans to restore the Aggies' seven-point edge.
Manziel racked up over 500 total yards for the fifth time in his career ... The Aggies scored 40-plus points for the 10th straight game ... Auburn rushed for 379 yards while holding Texas A&M to 133 rushing yards ... Texas A&M finished 5-of-13 on third downs ... Evans set the Texas A&M single-game receiving record with 279 yards against the Crimson Tide on Sept. 14.