COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Max Johnson threw for 249 yards and a touchdown and Texas A&M snapped a two-game skid with a 30-17 win over South Carolina Saturday.
“Happy for our guys to get a win," Aggies' coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Handled the things we had to handle. Wasn’t perfect but did really good things.”
The game was tied late in the second quarter before the Aggies (5-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) scored two touchdowns in less than a minute to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
The Gamecocks cut it to 21-10 on a 49-yard field goal early in the third quarter.
Spencer Rattler threw a 23-yard pass to Nyck Harbor on third-and-9 before a 29-yard run by Mario Anderson got South Carolina to the 2. Rattler then found Joshua Simon in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 24-17.
But South Carolina (2-6, 1-5) couldn’t get anything done on offense after that as the team lost a fourth straight game.
Texas A&M extended the lead to 27-17 on a 24-yard field goal with 11 minutes remaining.
South Carolina went for it on fourth-and-1 on the next drive and Rattler fumbled a low snap. He recovered it but was tackled for a loss of 2 on the play to give the Aggies the ball back.
They added a 52-yard field goal to extend the lead to 30-17 with about 7 ½ minutes left.
Rattler entered the game averaging 277 yards passing a game but managed just 176 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Texas A&M’s tough defense. The Aggies hurried and harassed Rattler all day, and he was called for three intentional grounding plays on consecutive drives in the second quarter while trying to escape the rush.
“I was as surprised as you were that we had one, much less three," South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said. "That defense is good enough, and we don’t need to help them.”
Texas A&M safety Bryce Anderson said they were doing a lot of different things to keep Rattler off-balance.
“Just bringing the pressure,” he said. “Bringing five guys, bringing six guys. Just coming after him.”
Aggies' linebacker Edgerrin Cooper, who entered the game leading the SEC with 13.5 tackles for losses, added two more Saturday. The junior also had four quarterback hits, broke up a pass and forced a fumble.
Ainias Smith had 118 yards receiving and a 42-yard touchdown reception for his second 100-yard game this season.
“We did a real good job coming together during the bye week," Smith said. "After the two losses, we were holding each other accountable. We have grown together as a brotherhood and as an offense.”
Dakeron Joyner took a direct snap and ran 1-yard for a touchdown that put South Carolina up 7-0 with about two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Aggies tied it when Rueben Owens got great blocking and ran 14 yards for a touchdown with nine minutes remaining in the second.
A 1-yard touchdown run by Amari Daniels put Texas A&M up 14-7 less than two minutes before halftime. Johnson kept that drive going with a sneak on fourth-and-1 before a 26-yard reception by Smith on third-and-5 set up the score.
Rattler had his third intentional grounding penalty of the quarter on South Carolina’s next drive and was sacked on the next play to force a punt.
Texas A&M needed just one play to extend the lead as Smith evaded multiple defenders on his 42-yard catch-and-run TD that made it 21-7 with 52 seconds to go in the half.
South Carolina: Rattler will have to limit his mistakes and more efficiently move the offense if South Carolina hopes to finish the season on a high note.
“We’re a team that has gotten better as the year has gone on every single year, and this year should be no different,” Beamer said.
Texas A&M: The Aggies played well at times but will need to play more consistently if they hope to continue to win in SEC play with tougher opponents coming in the next few weeks.
Beamer said defensive back O’Donnell Fortune was suspended for the first half of Saturday's game for an unspecified violation of athletic department policy.
South Carolina: Hosts Jacksonville State next Saturday.
Texas A&M: Visit No. 12 Ole Miss next Saturday.
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