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Kyle Field, College Station, Texas Attendance: 102,530
Johnson throws 2 TD passes after Weigman injured to lead Texas A&M to 27-10 win over Auburn
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Max Johnson threw for 123 yards and two second-half touchdowns after taking over for an injured Conner Weigman to lead Texas A&M to a 27-10 win over Auburn Saturday.
“We won the game and still didn’t play close to what we’re capable of,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Hopefully we’ll get better and move on from here.”
Weigman threw for 70 yards before he was injured on a hit late in the second quarter. He limped to the locker room, looking to have trouble putting any weight on his right foot, and the team said he had a lower leg injury.
Fisher said X-rays were negative but that he didn't know how long Weigman would be out.
Johnson took over for the third quarter and got right to work, leading Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) on a 46-yard drive capped by a 22-yard touchdown pass to younger brother Jake Johnson to make it 13-3 with about 10 minutes left in the third.
The quarterback said it was the first time he'd thrown a touchdown pass to his brother since high school.
“It was a pretty special moment,” Max Johnson said. “We’ve been waiting on that for a long time.”
Johnson said he's always prepared to play and wasn't nervous when thrust into action Saturday.
“I was ready for the moment,” he said.
Johnson found Evan Stewart in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown pass on A&M’s next possession to stretch the lead to 20-3 with about 6½ minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“You have confidence in the backup," Fisher said. “That’s football, man. You will be banged and bruised. I am sad for (Weigman) no doubt, but very happy for Max and the opportunity.”
Kayin Lee forced a fumble by Rueben Owens, and it sailed through the air into the hands of Eugene Asante, who raced 67 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 10 early in the fourth. Asante almost crashed into Fisher on the play, running between him and the sideline after Fisher drifted onto the field during the play.
“I thought the play was dead … I’m lucky I didn’t get ran over,” Fisher said with a laugh. “Bad execution on my part.”
The Tigers got a stop after that, but their drive stalled, and they had to punt.
Amari Daniels had a 79-yard run two plays later to set up a 4-yard scoring run by Le’Veon Moss that made it 27-10.
Payton Thorne threw for 44 yards as Auburn (3-1, 0-1) lost for the first time this season after winning its first three games for the first time since 2019. The Tigers also used Robby Ashford and Holden Geriner at quarterback, but they combined for just 12 yards passing on a day the Aggies had seven sacks and 15 tackles for losses.
Thorne, who threw for 282 yards and ran for 123 yards last week, finished with 11 carries for minus-34 yards rushing Saturday.
“I thought our kids played well enough on defense to win the game, outside of the few explosive plays ... on offense, we’re searching,” Auburn coach Hugh Freeze said. "And we’ve got to find some answers.”
Freeze said A&M's pressure made things difficult for his team.
“We were holding up pretty good in the middle,” he said. “We got distracted on the edge with their pressure ... it affected us. It costs us in the run game a few games, truthfully. We’ve got to coach it better and execute it better.”
The Aggies were up 6-0 after two early field goals when Damari Alston grabbed a short pass behind the line of scrimmage. He was hit immediately by Tyreek Chappell and looked to have fumbled. Edgerrin Cooper scooped up the ball, and after escaping one defender, ran 63 yards untouched for a touchdown.
But the play was reviewed and ruled an incomplete pass, to negate the score and give the Tigers the ball back.
After their two field goals, the Aggies punted on their next three drives before halftime.
The Tigers had good field position on their final drive of the first half, but Thorne was sacked twice in three plays to bring up fourth down just before halftime. Alex McPherson made a 53-yard field goal with five seconds left in the second quarter to cut the lead to 6-3.
Auburn: After failing to score a touchdown on offense against the Aggies, the Tigers will have to figure out a way to get their offense going and better protect their quarterbacks before next week’s meeting with top-ranked Georgia.
Texas A&M: The Aggies will have to wait and see how long Weigman’s injury will keep him out. If he can’t go next week, Johnson will have to be more consistent after starting out strong before struggling to move the offense Saturday.
Auburn: Host Georgia next Saturday.
Texas A&M: Plays Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas next Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll
Updated September 23, 2023