** available after 11:30 PM CT per SEC rules
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- After serving his first-half suspension, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel threw three TD passes and scrambled for 19 yards as No. 7 Texas A&M posted a lopsided 52-31 win over Rice.
His first touchdown came on a 23-yard pass to Mike Evans on A&M's second drive of the half.
Matt Joeckel started at quarterback for A&M and threw for 190 yards and a touchdown to help the Aggies to a 28-21 lead at halftime.
Manziel came in on Texas A&M's first offensive play of the second half and the Aggies capped his first drive with a 44-yard field goal.
Manziel's first play of the season was a 12 yard run and he also scrambled on the second one, going seven yards. He was sacked on third down and the Aggies settled for the field goal.
Manziel extended A&M's lead to 38-21 with the touchdown pass to Evans.
Ben Malena grabbed an 18-yard pass from Manziel early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 45-28.
Rice failed to convert on fourth down on its next drive and Manziel took advantage of the short field two players later when he hit a wide-open Evans in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.
For Rice, Taylor McHargue threw for 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and Charles Ross had 107 yards rushing with two scores for the Owls.
Ross got Rice within 10 points with a 1-yard run seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Aggies struggled early in the first half, possibly due to the suspensions of five defensive starters. Cornerbacks Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris, defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and linebacker Steven Jenkins all sat out for Texas A&M. Backup safety Floyd Raven was also suspended for this game.
The suspensions of Harris, Stansbury, Jenkins and receiver Edward Pope are for two games and were announced just minutes before kickoff, meaning their first game action will be against top-ranked Alabama on Sept. 14.
Everett's suspension was for a half and he started on defense after the break and he was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter for targeting.
The Aggies relied on the running game in the second quarter to complete a touchdown drive with a 1-yard run by Carson to even the score.
A&M's first lead came on a 71-yard catch and run by freshman Ricky Seals-Jones that made it 21-14. Carson pushed the lead to 28-14 with his second score on a two-yard run.
Rice jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a 1-yard run by Ross. That drive was helped by a career-long 57-yard run by McHargue. With Manziel watching from the sidelines sporting a visor, A&M evened it up when Ben Malena scored on a 4-yard run later in the first quarter.
The Owls took a 14-7 lead when McHargue found Charles Ross on a 19-yard touchdown pass with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
ABOUT THE WIN
+ The Aggies extended their winning streak to seven with today’s win over Rice. It is A&M’s longest win streak since winning 10 straight after losing the season-opener in 1998.
+ Texas A&M defeated Rice for the 16th straight time. The Aggies now lead the all-time series with Rice, 51-27-2.
+ The Aggies, which have three more non-conference games vs. schools from state of Texas, haven’t lost to a Texas non-conference team since 1954. Texas Tech, then of the Border Conference, beat the Aggies, 41-7, in Paul “Bear” Bryant’s debut game in Aggieland.
+ The Aggies improved to 61-5 against non-conference foes at Kyle Field since 1985.
+ The Aggies are 27-3 in their last 30 home openers.
+ It was the first season-opening win of head coach Kevin Sumlin’s career at Texas A&M. Overall, Sumlin is 5-1 in season-openers at Houston (2008-11) and A&M (2012- ).
+ Texas A&M generated more than 400 total yards for the 15th straight game, which is a school record.
+ The Aggies scored 50-plus points in a season-opener for the first time since topping Sam Houston State, 59-6, at Kyle Field (9/6/1997).
+ The Aggies had 10 players making their starting debuts --- five on offense and five on defense. New starters on offense were: OL Mike Matthews, OL Germain Ifedi, WR Sabian Holmes, WR Derel Walker, QB Matt Joeckel. On defense, the first-time starters were DT Hardreck Walker, DE Tyrell Taylor, LB Tommy Sanders, CB Alex Sezer Jr. and DB Clay Honeycutt.
+ The Aggies failed to score first for the first time since the 2011 Missouri game, which was a span of 18 games.
+ The Aggies punted on their first offensive drive of the game, which stopped a streak of 10 games with a TD on the opening drive.
+ True freshman WR Ricky Seals-Jones made his first career receiving TD a memorable one by ripping off a 71-yard catch and run.
+ Sophomore punter Drew Kaser’s 76-yard punt in the third quarter was the sixth-longest punt in school history. In his first action since game two of 2011, Kaser averaged 62.7 yards on three punts.
+ Making his first-ever start at quarterback was junior Matt Joeckel, whose twin brother, Luke, was a surprise visitor to the game. Luke was the No. 2 overall selection by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played the entire first half for the suspended Johnny Manziel, and completed 14-of-19 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown.
+ Sophomore transfer RB Tra Carson (from Oregon) scored a pair of touchdowns in his first game in the maroon and white.
+ Johnny Manziel needed less than a half to record his seventh career three-TD passing day. It also marked his 10th career game with multiple TD passes. He was 6-for-8 for 94 yards and 3 TDs in the air and rushed six times for 19 yards on the ground.
+ Clay Honeycutt, who entered the contest with two career tackles in eight games, logged seven tackles and his first career INT.
+ Tramain Jacobs tallied his second career INT for the Aggies’ other takeaway.
+ Sophomore WR Mike Evans led the Aggies with six catches for 84 yards with two touchdowns. It was the 14th straight game with at least four catches, which is every game of his career.
+ With his fourth and final tackle of the game, senior Toney Hurd Jr. logged the 100th tackle of his career.
+ The Aggies had a pair of brothers starting on the offensive line in senior All-American Jake Matthews and sophomore Mike Matthews.
+ At times, Texas A&M had a pair of twin brothers on its defensive front. Junior Tyrell Taylor started at defensive end and redshirt freshman Tyrone Taylor saw early action.
+ Junior Clay Honeycutt, who posted the first start of his career, is the son of former letterman Lynn Honeycutt (1978-79).
RB Tra Carson
Junior college transfers
TE Cameron Clear
LB Tommy Sanders
OL Germain Ifedi
DE Tyrone Taylor
DL Jay Arnold
LB Darian Claiborne
DB Noel Ellis
DB Tavares Garner
DL Isaiah Golden
WR LaQuvionte Gonzales
DL Daeshon Hall
LB Jordan Mastrogiovanni
WR Ricky Seals-Jones
DB Alex Sezer Jr.
WR Jeremy Tabuyo
DT Hardreck Walker
LB Shaan Washington
DB Jonathan Wiggins
WR Ja’Quay Williams
CAPTAINS, 12TH MAN
+ Game captains for the Aggies were: Ben Malena, Jake Matthews and Toney Hurd Jr. The trio won the toss and took the ball.
+ Making his 12th Man debut was Sam Moeller, a sophomore defensive back from Antonio Prep in San Antonio, Texas.
+ Suspended for the first half of today’s game were QB Johnny Manziel and DB Deshazor Everett. Suspended for the entire game were: DL Kirby Ennis, DB Floyd Raven, LB Steven Jenkins, DB De’Vante Harris, WR Edward Pope and DL Gavin Stansbury.
Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 – College Station, Texas
Texas A&M vs. Rice
Selected Texas A&M Post-Game Quotes
HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
On how Johnny Manziel played…
“I felt he was pressing it a little bit early, first play he missed a read but he had some good touchdown drives, good scrambles, but a foolish penalty at the end. No matter what the comments are he’ll be playing every week with people chirping, and [chirping back] is not okay. Obviously I addressed that on the sideline. But it’s something he’ll have to deal with every week.”
On the performances of Ben Malena and Tra Carson…
“I was looking forward to seeing Tra Carson play. I really think he’s what we thought he was going to be, and he’s going to help us. He’s a 230 Lb. guy that gives us a different dimension. We’ll get Brandon Williams this week too. We’ve been holding him back after his surgery this summer. He warmed up today and he wanted to play, but we’ve been holding him back for about 5 days now. We’ve got some real weapons back there at running back. Trey Williams had a little ankle sprain today but it wasn’t anything too serious. We’re going to need that depth, and for the most part we were pretty efficient in our running game between the two backs and I look for that to continue for the rest of the year.”
On what was said to Manziel before the game on how to react to taunting…
“I didn’t say anything to him.” Do you think you should have? “Nope. I think at this point we talk about a lot of different things, not specifically what’s going to happen during a game. We had another young man, a freshman, who was thrown out of the game; I don’t know what happened, but we’ve got to grow and mature as a team, and individual acts like that hurt your football team. We talk about that in general all the time. I don’t talk to individual players about that before the game because you can’t foresee anything. What you can do is have a plan for it. We lost another player today because of that, a targeting penalty which I challenged. We have to grow as a team and mature as a team, and that’s part of our jobs as coaches.”
“Well we have addressed it, and one way to address it is to play the young guys that we have. Like I said, it’s difficult for those guys and for us as a team, but the good news is we’re getting a lot of experience for a bunch of young, talented guys that we’re going to need for the rest of the season. We’re actually fortunate for having to play them today. The experience that we gained today is going to help us a bunch, especially up front because that’s where most of the guys were missing.”
On the team’s performance overall…
“We have a lot of pieces that we can be successful with. I think we have a lot of young guys who are eager to play. Sure we had some guys get frozen up today and caught on their heels, but that’s part of coaching; you can prepare them in practice, but when the bullets start flying they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but there were some positive things out of that. When we get Kirby back in the middle that will help us, but today we had a couple of true freshmen roll in and out of there in the inside against fifth year seniors, and I think they learned something today. As we start to move on through the year we’ll get players back, but today we got a bunch of young guys playing a bunch of valuable snaps in meaningful parts of the game, feeling the pressure instead of playing at the end of the game when it’s just mop-up time. With a lot of guys coming out of high school, they were likely the best players on the team, and they’re slowly learning that they can’t get away with that anymore, and I think that point we’ll be easier to get across in practice this week.
SENIOR RB BEN MALENA
On Johnny Manziel’s intensity
“He was on the sideline for the first half and was itching and scratching to get out there. When he got out there on the field he was just ready to go. He was just fired up.”
On Personal Performance
“I think I had a pretty good day running the ball. You can always do a few things better. From a first game point of view, I think the tracks were good, I think the offensive line did really good job opening holes.”
On Player Suspensions
“Those are decisions that those guys made and they understand those decisions. We have addressed those as a team and once those guys come back they will be ready to go.”
On Matt Joeckle’s Performance
“I think he did a really good job of doing exactly what he was asked to do. I think that the series of plays and the play calling was fitting for him. He didn’t turn the ball over and he made all the right reads. I think he did a pretty good job.”
SENIOR DB TONEY HURD JR.
On what happened the improvement the defense made in the second half…
“I feel starting the game, we had a lot of young guys playing kind of nervous and on their toes, but as the game went on they got a little bit more confident, came out in the second half and got a little bit more calm and made plays.”
On the young defensive players…
“We have a lot of guys that come in and play for us in their first college game and Claiborne was one we said in the first half he probably had three or four, I know it probably didn’t amaze too many people. We had a lot of guys that left us last year, and we have a lot of young guys that have to come in and make big plays for us this year.”
On having to deal with suspensions on defense…
“We have a lot of confidence in our young guys. They’ve been working hard at fall camp, and they have put the work in to be starters. The older guys have made a few mistakes, and the coaches handled it accordingly. I feel like when they get back, we’ll definitely get a few veterans back, but right now we have to play with what we have. They did a pretty good job once they got their nerves out.”
On the importance of being a leader…
“A lot. A ton today. We got down a little bit. They started busting us on a couple of runs. We had to get it figured out on the field because our coaches couldn’t see it from the sidelines. But as a senior leader, I tried to give my team everything I had today, and I feel that in the second half, we made some better judgments.”
“I feel like they put themselves in a certain position, but I feel like they have learned from it. Good thing is that we have some young guys ready to step up and play for us. The coaches and the guys upstairs definitely get these young guys ready, and they also discipline the guys that got in trouble.”
On the emotions of the game in terms of honoring Polo…
“First and foremost, we got a sticker, a decal to put on our helmets to honor Polo. We will be wearing that each and every week leading into the national championship. Today one of our defensive lineman actually wore his jersey, and each week one of our defensive players will be wearing number 90 in honor of Polo, just to show him and his family that he is still out there with us.”
On the message that Johnny Manziel delivered to the team on what he learned…
“I felt like Johnny Manziel was very, very genuine and came up and spoke with us at the team meeting and gave us his honest opinion about what was going on, and we embrace the situation. It’s just amazing that it’s all behind us now, and we’ll be pushing forward.”
On how he thought Johnny represented himself on the field today…
“I felt like he represented himself with a nice swag. He came out and he played well. He took a few chances, but who doesn’t take chances on the football field? He came out and had fun. We got the ‘W’ and that’s what really matters.”
JUNIOR RT CEDRIC OGBUEHI
On Matt Joeckle
“He was comfortable and it looked like he had been starting for a while. He is the ultimate game manager, he is not going to do anything outstanding but he is not going to lose the game for us. I think that he did a really good job.”
On Offensive Line
“It was alright and we could have been better. I think it was the first game jitters; we had two new guys in there. It was pretty good for a fist game but I’m pretty sure we can do a lot better next week.”
On second possession drive
“It felt good. Coach told us before we started that “its on y’all”. We just put our heads down and started moving the pile a little bit and got some yards. It was good overall.”
On Johnny Manziel
“That’s how he is. He is a fiery guy and that’s what we love about him. He is not quiet and he’s not shy. He is loud and aggressive and that’s what makes him Johnny Football so we love it.”
JUNIOR LB DONNIE BAGGS
On starting as a linebacker…
“I felt pretty good. I worked all offseason and fall camp and it felt really good getting out there with the defense today. I had my first start last year against Louisiana Tech so I felt comfortable getting a start at linebacker today.”
On the freshmen defensive players
“They played pretty good. I really like Darian Claiborne. He came out there and played his butt off. Mastrogiovanni played good as well. It’s a work in process. The guys are going to make mistakes but as long as we continue to get better, it will be good for them.”
On honoring fallen teammate Polo Manukainiu
“It meant a lot. We have his jersey hanging up in his locker so we see it every day before practice and before meetings. It meant a lot that we are representing with the jersey and the sticker on our helmets.”
Selected Rice Post-Game Quotes
HEAD COACH DAVID BAILIFF
"I'm really pleased with how this football game started. We had a 94 yard touchdown drive. To come into Texas A&M and have over 500 yards of offense. To look at what we did great and to look at the mistakes we made, it shows we are going to be a really good team. I'm proud of Charles Ross and the way the offensive line played. I thought we lost focus in the second quarter. That is one of the things I just told the team. Defensively, we are going to have to create some turnovers. That was the difference in the game. But, defensively, I thought we played well. We are going to be a good Conference USA team. Our goals are still intact. Leaving here we wanted to be a better team than when we came here. I feel like we accomplished that objective. We were dreaming big; we came to win this football game."
SENIOR QB TAYLOR MCHARGUE
On the start of the game...
"It was great to start the way we did, with a touchdown the first series of the game. That was big for us. I thought the whole first half we moved the ball effectively. Then the second half, I have to play better than that. I think, besides the few mistakes, we played very well. We need to clean up the mental errors in the second half."
On if this is a confidence boost...
"We have a lot of hope for this season. Just like coach said, all of our goals are still intact. We are still expecting to have a big year."
SENIOR RB CHARLES ROSS
On what he was seeing in the game...
"The offensively did a really good job of getting a hat on a hat. Part of being a good running back is getting to the second level and making guys miss."
SOPHOMORE DT CHRISTIAN COVINGTON
On taking A&M off their game...
"We played sound. I think it took a while to get used to the tempo in the first quarter. We made a couple mental mistakes trying to keep up with the tempo."
On Manziel in the second half...
"It was the mentality of the game. We knew [Manziel] was coming in. I think set a fire to Texas A&M in the second half. It is a challenge getting to him. We knew he was going to make some plays. We wanted to limit the big plays."