AUBURN, Ala. — Texas A&M’s playoff hopes remain intact after a 31-20 road victory over Auburn Saturday.
Aggie tight end Jaylen Wydermyer posted a two-touchdown performance, catching eight passes for 89 yards. Quarterback Kellen Mond added a 18-for-23 passing day for 196 yards and the two passing touchdowns. Running back Isaiah Spiller collected his sixth 100-yard game of the season, posting 120 yards on 20 carries.
“We’re growing up as a team and understanding how to play,” head coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN after the game. “Momentum swings don’t bother us anymore.”
A&M (7-1) began the game with a clock-draining 11-play drive that ended in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mond to Wydermyer, giving Wydermyer the school record for touchdown catches by a tight end.
Auburn (5-4) countered on its second drive, which spanned into the second quarter, with a 37-yard field goal by Anders Carlson.
The Tigers took the lead on a highlight play reminiscent of former Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Bo Nix squeezed out of a two-armed sack attempt by defensive tackle Bobby Brown, eluded two more Aggie defenders in the pocket and scrambled into the end zone for the five-yard score.
The Tiger scoring drive was preceded by a missed field goal attempt by Seth Small from from 28 yards away. Aggies had first and goal on the Auburn 6-yard line and rushed twice to get the ball to the two. On third down, Mond was sacked on a bootleg throw attempt, which led to the field goal attempt.
Aggies took the lead to the locker room after Mond took an under-center snap and dove into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown score with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
After starting 8-for-8, Mond ended the first half 11-for-12 passing with 97 yards and a passing touchdown to go with the rushing score.
Auburn’s offense got the best of A&M to start the second half, taking a nine-play, 75-yard drive for a 3-yard touchdown rush by Nix. The Aggies appeared to have the Tigers stymied on third and 3 at the A&M 10, but a missed tackle by Leon O’Neal picked up the needed yards for the first.
An A&M punt gave the Tigers the ball back and Auburn widened its lead to six with a 24-yard field goal by Carlson
The Aggies gained the lead back on the next two drives with consecutive touchdowns. The first was Wydermyer’s second on a play that required a little luck. Mond threw the 20-yard pass a little too flat, giving Tiger linebacker Zakoby McClain an easy interception opportunity. The pass bounced off McClain's hands and into the arms of the Aggie tight end who simply stepped across the goal line.
A seven-play, 77-yard drive by the Aggies added insurance with a 4-yard touchdown run by Ainias Smith up the middle out of I-formation.
The Aggies final drive of the game ran five and half minutes off the clock and ended with a redemptive 32-yard field goal by Small.
The Aggie defense gave up 340 yards in the game, including 203 rushing yards. Only Arkansas posted more on the ground against the Aggies this season. Defensive backs Myles Jones and Leon O’Neal, as well as linebacker Aaron Hansford, led the Aggies in tackles with eight. All eight of Jones’ tackles were solo efforts.
Fisher told ESPN earning playoff positioning will be about preparing for their home finale next Saturday against Ole Miss.
“Get ready to play Ole Miss next week,” he said. “This lasts 24 hours and get ready to play one game at a time.”