- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Plenty of excitement and drama at Kyle Field as Rice made the game interesting but Texas A&M eventually pulled away for a 52-31 win over the Owls behind a second-half offensive effort sparked by quarterback Johnny Manziel.
It was over when: Rice went scoreless on its first three drives of the third quarter. Texas A&M intercepted quarterback Taylor McHargue on consecutive drives to start the second half and turned those two picks into 10 points on offense, to turn a 10-point lead into a 38-21 advantage. The Owls responded to cut the lead back to 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Manziel led a six-play, 93-yard drive in 1:46 capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ben Malena for a 45-21 lead and the Aggies never looked back.
Game ball goes to: Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. Sure, it would be easy to give it to Manziel for sparking the second-half offensive effort, but Evans played a crucial role on the two touchdown drives that blew the game open for the Aggies. He caught the 23-yard touchdown pass from Manziel to give the Aggies a 38-21 lead at the 9:43 mark in the third quarter. Later, on an early fourth-quarter touchdown drive that extended the lead to 45-28, Evans threw a big block for Malcome Kennedy on a 34-yard reception that got the Aggies in the red zone, then had a quality downfield block that sprung Malena for the 18-yard touchdown reception.
Stat of the game: 509 total offensive yards for Rice. The Aggies' defense had a few question marks coming into the season and didn't help matters by some self-inflicted issues, with six key players, including five starters, missing all or part of the game due to suspensions. That meant a lot of freshmen and newcomers on the field and it showed as Rice moved the ball well early and ran the ball with consistency. Once the Aggies get some of their key players back it will be interesting to see how things play out, but an effort like the one seen on Saturday won't bode well for Texas A&M once it gets to SEC play.