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WATCH: No. 6 Texas A&M sputters early, but cruises past Kent State

Sep 4, 2021;  College Station, Texas, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Haynes King (13) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Haynes King (13) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Senior safety Leon O’Neal Jr. returned the second of his two interceptions 85 yards for a touchdown as the sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies overcame a sporadic offensive performance in their 41-10 home victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

O’Neal snuffed a Golden Flashes’ threat with 20 seconds remaining in the first half by picking off a Dustin Crum pass in the end zone to preserve the Aggies’ 10-3 halftime lead.

O’Neal got the Aggies rolling in the third quarter with his pick-6, following a convoy of teammates from the middle of the field down the sideline to extend the Texas A&M lead to 20-3 at the 7:27 mark.

Taking their cue from O’Neal, the Aggies suddenly found their stride offensively and extended their winning streak to nine consecutive games dating back to last season.

Kent State mustered just 15 yards on its ensuing possession and the Aggies subsequently extended their lead when Devon Achane darted 63 yards for a score that upped the lead to 27-3 with 3:49 left in the third.

Aggies freshman quarterback Haynes King, making his first career start, added his second scoring pass to Ainias Smith with 11:31 remaining to help balance an uneven performance.

King tossed three interceptions to match the 2020 season total of Kellen Mond, a three-year starter now with the Minnesota Vikings. King went 21-for-33 and passed for 292 yards with two touchdowns.

King got off to a rousing start, finishing 6 of 6 for 49 yards on the Aggies’ opening possession and capping that 10-play, 75-yard march with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Smith. But Texas A&M sputtered for the remainder of the half, managing only a field goal on their second drive despite starting at the Kent State 46.

The Aggies turned the ball over on downs on their third possession, with Achane stuffed twice on short yardage, before King tossed consecutive interceptions to Kent State senior cornerback Elvis Hines, both in Golden Flashes territory.

But Kent State passed for only 110 yards and the Aggies finally found their offensive footing following the intermission. Texas A&M amassed 595 yards, including 303 on the ground.

–Field Level Media