Clemons’ scoop-and-score seals Texas A&M’s win over Auburn

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Micheal Clemons scored the game’s only touchdown on a 24-yard fumble return early in the fourth quarter, and No. 13 Texas A&M beat No. 12 Auburn 20-3 on Saturday.

Clemons’ scoop-and-score came after defensive tackle Jayden Peevy poked the ball away from scrambling Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. Clemons, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end, picked up the ball and sprinted to the end zone, diving to the ground after he crossed the goal line.

“That was a heck of a football game,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “That was a heck of a win. That was a lot of guts, that was physicality, that was toughness, that was competitiveness, which it took in this game to do the things we had to do, and I can’t be more proud of those guys.”

Zach Calzada finished 15 of 29 for 192 yards for Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference), shaking off an apparent injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder in the third quarter. His performance was good enough for the Aggies to survive a defensive battle between the two highest-ranked two-loss teams in the country.

“He ain’t always perfect, but let me tell you what, that’s a competitor,” Fisher said. “That guy has got arm talent, he can throw the football, he can make plays, he’s a competitor, and he’s a tough guy.”

Auburn (6-3, 3-2) had its four-game winning streak in College Station snapped.

Calzada woke up the crowd of 109,835 – the second-largest in Kyle Field history – with a 49-yard completion to Caleb Chapman late in the third quarter, setting up a 29-yard field goal by Seth Small that gave the Aggies a 6-3 lead.

Small put the Aggies up 9-3 with a 47-yard field goal with 13:40 remaining before the Aggies’ defense finally found the end zone. Small connected again from 37 yards with 3:15 remaining.

Small opened the scoring midway through the first quarter on a 21-yard kick, and Auburn answered with Anders Carlson‘s 32-yard field goal late in the quarter.

Both Small and Carlson missed midrange field-goal attempts that would have broken the 3-3 tie.

“I just don’t think that we found that play, that momentum, that spark to really get us – on the offensive side – going,” Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said. “We had plenty of self-inflicted wounds that we had in there – dropped passes, we lost the ball, we fumbled it. There were plenty of things that we could control that we didn’t help ourselves with.”

Texas A&M lost its first two SEC games before shocking then-No. 1 Alabama to begin a four-game winning streak. Now the Aggies are in the hunt to represent the SEC West in the conference championship game if they win out. Their remaining opponents are Ole Miss, Prairie View A&M and LSU.

“We just take it game by game, and now, we’re focused on Ole Miss,” offensive lineman Kenyon Green said. “You can’t look that far out if you can’t see it. All we see right now is Ole Miss.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Auburn: The Tigers finished with 73 yards rushing on 29 attempts, led by Tank Bigsby, who had 69 yards. … Nix completed 20 of 41 passes for 153 yards, with the fumble and an interception. … Auburn was 4 of 16 on third-down conversions.

Texas A&M: The Aggies had solid rushing performances from Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, who had 112 and 98 yards, respectively. … The Aggies struggled to move the chains at times due to untimely dropped passes.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Texas A&M could move up a couple spots but may not crack the top 10. Auburn will fall at least a few spots but Will Likely remain ranked.

PLEASE SLIDE

“I wish he would slide. I’m going to have to get some of the Astros up here, maybe get Dusty Baker up here to teach him how to slide.” – Fisher on Calzada, who didn’t slide on the rush that left him with the banged-up shoulder.

AGGIES LAND PRIZED RECRUIT

Texas A&M received good news around kickoff when Walter Nolen, a defensive lineman out of Tennessee who is considered one of the nation’s top defensive prospects, committed to the Aggies. Nolen chose Texas A&M while on an unofficial visit to College Station. Fisher was asked after the game what kind of impact the win over Auburn could have for recruiting and replied, “Just watch.”

UP NEXT

Auburn: Hosts Mississippi State on Saturday.

Texas A&M: At Ole Miss on Saturday.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.