Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

Manziel's day begins late, ends early in win

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Johnny Manziel's day began late because of the NCAA and ended early because of his mouth.

In between, he looked like Johnny Football at his best.

After serving his first-half suspension, the Heisman Trophy winner threw for three touchdowns, scrambled for 19 yards — and acted up — as No. 7 Texas A&M rolled over Rice 52-31 Saturday.

Manziel sat out the first half because of what the school called an "inadvertent" violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs.

His first TD came on a 23-yard pass to Mike Evans on A&M's second drive of the half. But just before that, Manziel got into it with a Rice defender, appearing to mimic signing an autograph while getting up from a tackle.

Coach Kevin Sumlin said he didn't see that exchange but said he would have "done something about it" if he had seen it.

Manziel ended his day by getting yanked after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pointing at the scoreboard after a TD pass in the fourth quarter.

"A foolish penalty at the end," Sumlin said. "No matter what the comments are or what. He's going to face that every week with the people chirping."

Manziel, who was replaced by Matt Joeckel (the first-half starter) on A&M's last drive, wasn't made available afterward.

He addressed his teammates Friday and discussed, according to Sumlin, the "mistakes he's made." The meeting was a condition for reinstatement.

Manziel had been investigated for reportedly accepting money for autographs from memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension. Instead, the sophomore only had to sit out two quarters.

Joeckel threw for 190 yards and a touchdown to help the Aggies to a 28-21 halftime lead.

Manziel came in on A&M's first offensive series of the second half.

He scrambled for 12 and 7 yards, threw an incompletion, then was sacked. The Aggies capped his first drive with a 44-yard field goal.

Manziel extended the lead to 38-21 with the TD pass to Evans.

His second touchdown to Evans gave the Aggies a 52-28 lead. Then Manziel got a flag.

Manziel wasn't the only problem for A&M. Five defensive starters were suspended before the game: cornerbacks Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris, tackle Kirby Ennis, end Gavin Stansbury and linebacker Steven Jenkins. Backup safety Floyd Raven also was suspended.

Two-game penalties for Harris, Stansbury, Jenkins and receiver Edward Pope were announced just before kickoff. Everett's suspension was for a half. He started after the break but was ejected in the fourth quarter for targeting.

Alabama opens title defense with rout

ATLANTA — Christion Jones became the first Alabama player since at least the 1940s to have two returns for touchdowns, defensive back Vinnie Sunseri brought back an interception for another score, and the top-ranked Crimson Tide overcame a sluggish offensive performance to beat Virginia Tech 35-10.

Jones scored on a 72-yard punt return less than two minutes into the game then scooted loose on a kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown as the Tide began its quest for a third straight national title.

Jones is the first Tide player since at least 1944 — that's as far back as the Alabama record book goes — to score two touchdowns in a game on returns.

"It's every kid's dream to do something like that," said Jones, who also hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to blow it open against the Hokies, who largely shut down quarterback AJ McCarron and Alabama's touted offense.

The Tide had 97 yards of total offense at halftime but led 28-10. McCarron and company contributed to only one of those TDs, which came on a short field after a wobbly Tech punt.

McCarron was seen arriving in Atlanta wearing a boot on his right foot, reportedly because of an ingrown toenail, and he looked a bit off after being the nation's top-rated passer in 2012. There was an interception — he had only three all of last season — and finished 10-of-23 for 110 yards.

No. 13 Okla. St. 21, Miss. St. 3: J.W. Walsh threw for 135 yards and ran for another 125 and a touchdown to lead the Cowboys in the Texas Kickoff at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Walsh finished 18 of 27 after relieving starter Clint Chelf on the Cowboys' third series. Coach Mike Gundy said Walsh would be the starter at Texas-San Antonio next week. "It was exciting to get in the first game of the year that we have been waiting all year for," Walsh said. "It was a lot of fun and exciting. There were some tough moments at the beginning, but once we got in our stride, we were good." Mississippi State's Tyler Russell finished 10 of 16 for 133 yards before being helped off and taken to the locker room in the third quarter after being brought down on a scramble. Dak Prescott replaced him, throwing for 89 yards.

Tenn. 45, Austin Peay 0: Rajion Neal rushed for 141 yards and Justin Worley threw three touchdowns as the host Volunteers began Butch Jones' coaching tenure with a rout of their Division I-AA opponent. Neal and Worley sat out the entire third and fourth quarters after the Volunteers scored touchdowns on each of their six first-half possessions. The victory was the 800th in school history for Tennessee, which became just the eighth program to reach that plateau. The others are Michigan, Texas, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Alabama. "It's a tribute to all the great players who've come before us who have laid this tradition, this passion," Jones said.

Ark. 34, La.-Lafayette 14: Brandon Allen was 15-of-22 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns as the host Razorbacks opened the Bret Bielema coaching era with a win. Allen, taking over as the starting quarterback, threw two touchdowns to Javontee Herndon and helped improve Bielema to 8-0 in his career in season openers. Terrance Broadway was 15-of-28 passing for 171 yards and a touchdown for Louisiana-Lafayette, which fell to 0-37 against SEC opponents. Arkansas outgained the Ragin' Cajuns 522-272. "That's kind of the definition of how I like to play games," Bielema said.

W. Kentucky 35, Kentucky 26: Keshawn Simpson ran for a pair of 3-yard touchdowns and Antonio Andrews added a 3-yard score as the Hilltoppers beat the Wildcats in Nashville, making coach Bobby Petrino a winner in his debut. The Hilltoppers also beat their instate rival for a second straight year by outgaining Kentucky 487-419 in total offense. "I love winning, and this is a great win for us," Petrino said. The loss ruined Kentucky coach Mark Stoops' debut, as coordinator Neal Brown's Air Raid offense struggled. "We looked out of place," Stoops said.

Missouri 58, Murray St 14: James Franklin threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns before coming out early in the third quarter, helping the host Tigers take command after early struggles. Henry Josey had 113 yards on 13 carries with a 68-yard score in his first game back from a left knee injury that required two surgeries and sidelined him all last season. Russell Hansbrough had 104 yards on eight attempts with a pair of scores. "You want everything to go perfect," coach Gary Pinkel said after Missouri trailed, then finished with 45 unanswered points. "I don't want any stress. By the way, there wasn't any, was there?"

Auburn 31, Wash. St. 24: Tre Mason returned a kick 100 yards and Corey Grant scored on a 75-yard run to lead the host Tigers in Gus Malzahn's debut as coach. Robenson Therezie also picked off two passes, including one in the end zone with less than five minutes remaining, for the Tigers. They had managed just two interceptions during last season's 3-9 debacle. The Malzahn-versus-Mike Leach matchup of offensive innovators produced big plays and drama. The Cougars had two chances to tie it in the final five minutes, but Therezie's interception and an incompletion on fourth down ended the threats.

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