A 12th man saved Texas A&M three points. Then, more than 12 men took six away.
In a wild sequence to end the first half of Saturday's game against Rice, the Aggies went from allowing three points to scoring six to scoring none. Rice kicker James Hairston made a 53-yard field goal to end the first half and pull the Owls to within 11 points of Texas A&M at 21-10.
However, the field goal was waved off by officials after they ruled that the Aggies made an illegal substitution. They had 12 men on the field and because it was a dead-ball foul, the play didn't count.
So Hairston and the Owls had to attempt the field goal again, this time five yards closer, and the 48-yard attempt was blocked. As the ball rolled toward the goal line, Texas A&M freshman safety Armani Watts sprinted to pick up the ball at the 7-yard line, ran all the way across the field and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown and a 27-7 lead.
However, some of the Aggies players on the sideline ran onto the field after the block and Texas A&M was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at its own 42. The Aggies received an untimed down at their own 27, but Kenny Hill took a knee and the half expired with the score the same way it was before Hairston connected on his first field goal try at 21-7.
The bizarre series of plays was followed shortly thereafter by a halftime interview where Kevin Sumlin discussed his team's dumb penalties and "bad football."
Here's the block and return that went for naught:
Sumlin spoke about the sequence after the Aggies' 38-10 victory.
“We coach our team that if the ball is blocked and it goes on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage then we will pick it up, scoop and try to score," Sumlin said. "If the ball is blocked and it goes on our side of the line of scrimmage, then we leave it alone, because there are only bad things that can happen. Unless you’ve got a guy like Armani Watts who has never played and been on the field goal block team."
Sumlin noted the chaos of having players run off the field, others running on it and Watts sprinting by them all en route to the end zone.
"I’ve been around 20-something years, I’ve never seen that happen," Sumlin said. "It was just a really bizarre ending to the first half. Hopefully we won’t see anything like that again."