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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Texas A&M Aggies win 2020 season opener against Vanderbilt, 17-12

The Aggies are scheduled to play the Alabama Crimson Tide next on Oct. 3.
Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals, right, is sacked by Texas A&M's Micheal Clemons (2) McKinnley Jackson during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M won 17-12. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The No. 10 ranked Texas A&M Aggies opened the 2020 season with a 17-12 win against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

The Aggies' win comes after an 8-5 season in 2019 capped off with a 24-21 win in their bowl game against Oklahoma State. Before Saturday's matchup, Texas A&M was 2-0 against Vanderbilt all-time, beating them 56-24 in 2016 and 25-0 in 2015. 

Isaiah Spiller had 117 yards rushing and Ainias Smith ran for a touchdown to help No. 10 Texas A&M overcome three turnovers in a mistake-filled game to beat Vanderbilt 17-12 on Saturday night in the season-opener for both teams.

Spiller had 5 five yards rushing in the first half before getting going after halftime. Smith added 51 yards rushing after switching from receiver to running back this season to steady the offense on a night when Kellen Mond fumbled twice, losing one.

The Aggies didn’t trail after the first quarter but were never able to pull away despite entering the game as 30-point favorites because of three fumbles and a penalty that resulted in a safety.

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Vanderbilt started Ken Seals at quarterback, making him just the third true freshman QB to start a SEC season opener since freshman eligibility was restored in 1972. He threw for 150 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Spiller got things going for A&M after halftime when he ran for 57 yards on the first play of the third quarter. Texas A&M pushed the lead to 14-5 when Mond connected with Caleb Chapman on a 17-yard TD pass two plays later.

Seals threw an interception on Vanderbilt’s next drive, but the Aggies couldn’t cash in on the mistake after Mond fumbled at the end of a run on the ensuing possession.

The Commodores cut the lead to 14-12 late in the third quarter when Seals threw a perfect strike to Amir Abdur-Rahman in the corner of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown. Abdur-Rahman had five receptions for 72 yards – both career highs.

The Aggies added a field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 17-12. Texas A&M was driving later in the quarter when Daevion Davis forced a fumble after a reception by Jalen Preston and recovered it to give Vanderbilt the ball at their own 42.

But a pass by Seals was tipped and intercepted by Leon O’Neal. He returned it 35 yards and the Aggies got 15 more yards after Chris Pierce was flagged for a late hit when he threw O’Neal down at the end of the run while he was out of bounds on the A&M sideline.

The Aggies came away empty on their next drive when Mond fumbled the handoff on fourth-and-1. But Vanderbilt had to punt it back to allow Texas A&M to hold on for the victory.

Vanderbilt led 3-0 in the first quarter before Smith ran 25 yards for a touchdown to put A&M on top.

There were about eight minutes left in the second quarter when Andre Mintze hit Mond to force a fumble which was recovered by Dashaun Jerkins. The Commodores couldn’t move the ball and had to punt. But Brian George received a personal foul for a blindside block in the end zone to give Vanderbilt a safety to cut the lead to 7-5.

Vanderbilt was without linebacker Dimitri Moore, who led the SEC with 99 tackles last season and made the trip but did not play. Moore, who is a Butkus Award candidate, was expected to play this season after changing his mind about opting out amid concerns about the COVID-19.

Texas A&M heads on the road in week two with a Goliath opponent to try and slay: the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Aggies have lost seven straight games to the Crimson Tide. The team's last win came in 2012, when Johnny Manziel led the Aggies to an upset of the then No.1 ranked team in the nation.

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