Conner Weigman threw for 191 yards and a touchdown and Texas A&M overcame a sloppy and mistake-filled performance to snap a six-game skid with a 20-3 win over UMass Saturday in College Station, Texas.
Texas A&M (4-7) entered the game as 33½ point favorites against the Minutemen (1-10). But the Aggies lost four fumbles and struggled to move the ball while playing without top running back Devon Achane and leading receiver Evan Stewart on a soggy and cold day.
Weigman threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter to put A&M on top. The Aggies didn’t get in the end zone again until Le’Veon Moss scampered 12 yards for a touchdown with about five minutes remaining to stretch the lead to 20-3.
Kay’Ron Adams ran for 58 yards and Ellis Merriweather added 47 for UMass, which lost its eighth consecutive game since a win over Stony Brook on Sept. 17.
Texas A&M announced a paid attendance of more than 90,000, but the crowd in the cavernous stadium looked sparse from the start and morphed into a ghost town by the third quarter as light rain steadily fell.
It was a far cry from the atmosphere when the Aggies opened the season ranked No. 6 in the country with designs on competing for a national title. They’ve not only tumbled out of the poll since then but won’t even make a bowl game this season, raising questions about the $75 million contract of coach Jimbo Fisher.
The Aggies got a 27-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. UMass tied it early in the second on a 25-yard field goal.
Texas A&M put together a nice drive after that, but Moose Muhammed fumbled after a 45-yard reception, and it was recovered by the Minutemen on their 14. UMass couldn’t cash in on the error and had to punt four plays later.
The Aggies took the lead later in the second when Weigman connected with Noah Thomas on a 22-yard TD pass that made it 10-3.
Texas A&M extended the lead to 13-3 on a 35-yard field goal by Randy Bond with about eight minutes left in the third quarter. He missed from 45 yards early in the fourth.
Texas A&M had a shot to add to the lead late in the second, but Weigman fumbled as he pulled back his arm to throw in the wet weather. The Aggies recovered, but Bond’s 47-yard field goal attempt was short.
Saturday’s win is A&M’s first since Sept. 24 to end the school’s longest losing streak since 1972. It came as the Aggies took a break from the rigors of SEC play for a matchup with UMass, which is an independent team. Texas A&M will end this dreadful season next weekend with a visit from sixth-ranked LSU.
NCAA Division 2 Playoffs
Slippery Rock 17, Assumption 14 — The visiting Rock (10-2) held the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half, building a 17-7 lead that ended up enough to upset the third-seeded Greyhounds (8-3) in a defensive first-round battle in Worcester. Though Assumption held Slippery Rock scoreless after halftime, they could only manage a third-quarter touchdown after a shanked punt, with The Rock stuffing Berrell Neal (42 yards, TD) on a fourth-and-2 from the Rock 3-yard line when Assumption passed on a tying field goal later in the third. Assumption managed just one first down and 23 total yards the rest of the way. Jake Cady threw for just 92 yards and a touchdown to Quinn Seiger, but led the Greyhounds with 66 rushing yards.
NCAA Division 3 Playoffs
Springfield 17, Endicott 14 — The Pride (9-2) rushed 65 times for 321 yards, including 156 from Arsen Shtefan, to knock off the host Gulls (10-1) in Beverly and advance to a second-round meeting at unbeaten Ithaca next Saturday. Springfield led, 14-7, entering the fourth on a 2-yard score from Shtefan and a 7-yard run from Blane Hart, and added to that off a short field via Christian Hutra’s 33-yard field goal with 7:25 to play. Lynnfield’s Clayton Marengi (14 for 25, 146 yards, 2 touchdowns) connected with Worcester’s Jaeden Baxter for a 27-yard score with two minutes left for Endicott, but Springfield recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock. Tewskbury’s Shane Aylward had the other score for the Gulls, a 53-yard connection with Marengi in the second quarter.
Ithaca 63, UMass Dartmouth 20 — The host Bombers (11-0) recovered four UMD fumbles in the first quarter alone and scored six touchdowns on their first seven possessions, dismissing the Corsairs (9-2), who reached the NCAAs as Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference champions for the first time in program history. Dante Aviles-Santos (Cumberland, R.I.) threw for 249 yards, a pair of scores, and two interceptions in the loss, with Luis Gonzalez rushing for 52 yards and scoring twice, one each on the ground and through the air. Bishop Hendricken alumnus JP Mason had a game-high 15 tackles for UMD.