COLLEGE STATION Let the record show that the first touchdown witnessed in expanded Kyle Field by Saturday’s record-setting crowd of 104,728 belonged to LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette.
Realize that Fournette, the Tigers’ five-star freshman signee, scored that touchdown in Baton Rouge, La. while A&M fans waited out a two-hour, five-minute lightning delay and were shown alternate programming from the SEC Network on the giant video board in the south end zone.
But none of the 188 lightning strikes recorded within eight miles of Kyle Field during the delay did much to dampen the spirits of the largest crowd to watch a college football game in Texas. Nor did it slow the Aggies’ point-per-minute offense once live football was available for the masses.
No. 9 A&M started quickly, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions, and went on to a 73-3 rout of Lamar, an overmatched FCS opponent that resurrected a dormant football program five years ago. The Aggies (2-0) averaged 8.1 yards per offensive snap against the Cardinals (1-1) and punted only once during the contest.
A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, a Southlake Carroll graduate, did nothing in his first start in College Station to diminish the national esteem he built by throwing for a school-record 511 yards in last week’s college debut, a 52-28 pasting of then-No. 9 South Carolina. Hill, a sophomore, threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns against Lamar, including a 51-yard scoring strike to Sabian Holmes, his former Carroll teammate.
Hill did most of his damage in the first half, throwing for 233 yards and three touchdowns while the Aggies built a 31-3 lead. Hill completed 12-of-16 passes in the opening half, with touchdown tosses to Holmes, Ricky Seals-Jones (24 yards) and Edward Pope (9 yards).
Through two games as a college starter, Hill has thrown for 794 yards and seven touchdowns, with no interceptions. He is 2-0 as a starter. Holmes said he is not surprised by his longtime friend’s fast start to life as a starting quarterback in the NCAA.
“Not at all,” Holmes said. “I’ve grown up with him. I knew what he could do. It’s time for everyone else to find out.”
Although healthy, Hill was replaced for one series by freshman Kyle Allen, a five-star recruit, before returning in the third quarter. Hill led two third-quarter touchdown drives, adding an 18-yard TD connection with Malcolme Kennedy, before departing the game for good with 1:56 remaining in the third quarter and the Aggies on top, 45-3.
Coach Kevin Sumlin said he was pleased that the lengthy pregame delay did not impact his team.
“We adjusted,” Sumlin said. “The fans gave us a lot of energy to start the game and we built on it. That wasn’t our best football. But I was glad we were at home after a weird set of circumstances to start the game.”
Holmes said: “We just had to refocus. Nothing’s ever perfect. We knew we couldn’t take these guys for granted. We had play hard and we did.”
Allen, who lost a close battle to Hill for the starting job during fall drills, completed 12-of-16 passes for 122 yards in his first collegiate action. Included were a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes and a second-quarter interception that stopped his initial drive.
“Kyle got better as the game went on,” Sumlin said. “They both deserve to play.”
A&M, which entered the contest as Texas’ top-ranked college team in The Associated Press poll, did plenty to validate its status on both sides of the ball. But the Aggies also stopped themselves with three turnovers, all in the first half.
Lamar did not capitalize on the miscues, however. Despite running 51 plays in the first half, the Cardinals’ only points came on Josh Davis’ 20-yard field goal that capped a 72-yard, first-quarter drive. Lamar finished the contest with 243 yards on 80 plays, an average of 3.0 per snap.
For A&M, it marked the first time the Aggies held an opponent without a touchdown since a 48-3 victory over SMU on Sept. 15, 2012. For a second consecutive week, A&M held its opponent to less than 100 rushing yards.
Among the A&M defensive highlights were two first-half sacks by defensive end Myles Garrett, a freshman signee from Arlington Martin. Garrett, a five-star signee, has posted as many sacks in his first two games (3) as A&M’s co-leaders in sacks recorded last season: linebacker Shaan Washington and defensive end Gavin Stansbury, who transferred to Houston during the summer.
“He’s what we need,” Sumlin said of Garrett. “He’s a defensive end that can generate his own pass rush. He’s already matched our best total from last year … and he’s probably missed three or four others. It’s a learning experience for him and he’s handling it well.”
By the end of Saturday night, the Aggies handled everything Lamar could throw at them despite a lengthy delay to get things started.