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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.