The Texas A&M Aggies tried about as hard as they could’ve to tie the game in the waning moments. But a failed 2-point conversion left them without a victory over the No. 2 team in the land. The Clemson Tigers survived their trip to College Station, and shooed away the pesky Aggies 28-26 Saturday night.
Kellen Mond had an absolute outburst at Kyle Field. The sophomore quarterback threw for 430 yards and rushed for an additional 33 and looked cool, calm and collected all evening. This despite facing arguably the best defensive line in the entire country. Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence were wreaking havoc against an overmatched A&M line all evening long. But that didn’t stop Mond from playing with poise and with constant pressure in his face. He spread the wealth, tossing passes to eight different receivers, six of which caught at least two passes.
Kendrick Rogers was his favorite target. Rogers caught seven passes, racked up 120 yards and scored two touchdowns along the way. That included the final TD of the game, one that could have led to a tie game if not for the missed 2-point attempt. Quartney Davis also picked up a touchdown that helped to close the gap in the 4th quarter.
Mond tossed those three touchdowns while throwing no interceptions and finished with a QB rating of 172.6. Not too shabby for a guy who’s really beginning to find his groove under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
The Aggie ground game, however, couldn’t really get it going against that Clemson line. They were held to a mark of 2.2 yards per carry. The usually exuberant Trayveon Williams only had 31 yards despite running the ball 17 times in the game. There’s no shame in it obviously, especially since they were still able to keep it close.
Clemson did what they had to do to stay alive. Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence each saw the field, as expected. Bryant was 12-for-17 with 205 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He also was the team’s leading rusher with 54 yards on 15 carries and a rushing TD, too. Travis Etienne had the Tigers’ other rushing score on the night, and picked up a game-high 5.5 yards per carry.
Despite the allure of Lawrence, the top-rated pro-style quarterback in the nation in 2018, hanging around him, Bryant played very well. He was sharp when he needed to be and looked impressive when running the ball. His savvy definitely helped him out, and given that he committed no turnovers, we can probably expect him to still be taking more reps going forward for the Tigers.
But they’re not the story here for this website (if you want Clemson coverage, head to Shakin’ The Southland. They’re p great). The story of the night anyway is the Aggies. They pulled no punches and answered back each time that Clemson looked to KO them. That type of resolve was seldom found under head coach Kevin Sumlin or, hell, even under Mike Sherman (Sorry for the reminder there, Aggie fans). Moral victories aren’t all that great all the time, but in this case? Yeah. It’s probably a deserving situation. They pushed Clemson to the absolute brink, and while they came up empty handed, this is the type of performance that will induce some optimism around College Station.