COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — The third-ranked Mississippi Rebels weren’t congratulating themselves on a job well done after a 35-20 victory over No. 14 Texas A&M that gave them their first 6-0 start since 1962.
Instead, player after player kept sharing the same thought Saturday night.
“We’ve just got to get better,” Bo Wallace said, echoing the prevailing sentiment.
Wallace ran for two scores and threw a touchdown pass and Mississippi’s defense added two scores to help the Rebels follow up last week’s victory over Alabama with their first win over A&M in the seventh meeting.
Wallace gave Mississippi (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) an early lead with touchdown runs on consecutive possession in the first quarter. Cody Prewitt returned an interception 75 yards for a score in the second quarter to make it 21-0.
A&M (5-2, 2-2) cut it to 14 in the third quarter, but Wallace answered with 33-yard touchdown pass and Mississippi padded the lead with a fumble return for a TD early in the fourth quarter.
Kenny Hill threw for 401 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two interceptions and a fumble for the Aggies, who lost for the second straight week after opening the season 5-0.
“I had three turnovers, two of them were for touchdowns,” Hill said. “We can’t win like that. That’s on me.”
The crowd of 110,633 — including Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt — was the largest to see a football game in the state of Texas and the most in SEC history.
“It’s great to be a part of 110,000-plus and great for them to be silent at the end,” Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said. “That means we did something right throughout the game.”
Wallace scored on a 4-yard run to give Mississippi a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. A 31-yard reception by Quincy Adeboyejo set up that score.
The Aggies had to punt on their next possession and pinned the Rebels at the 1. But Wallace orchestrated an easy nine play drive capped by a 10-yard scoring trot to make it 14-0 with about two minutes left in the first quarter.
Hill completed his first nine passes before the interception by Prewitt, who darted through traffic and wriggled out of a tackle attempt by the quarterback to return it 75 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter.
“Once I got the ball I thought about going out of bounds but then I had a flashback to high school running back days and I had to take that one home,” Prewitt said.
The Aggies faked a field goal late in the first quarter, but were stuffed for a 1-yard loss to leave them scoreless at halftime. It was the first time a team coached by Kevin Sumlin, who is in his seventh year as a head coach, was ever shut out in a first half.
“There were a number of times today where we just got whipped and it’s hard to fix that,” Sumlin said.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Trey Williams cut the lead to 21-7 with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. It was just the second score Mississippi’s first-team defense had allowed all season. The Aggies converted a fourth down to keep that drive going.
Wallace made it 28-7 with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Adeboyejo late in the third quarter. Wallace kept things moving earlier in that possession with a 9-yard run on third down where he bowled over three A&M defenders.
“That was big,” Freeze said. “No one has ever doubted his competitive spirit and it just kind of shows it. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I don’t like to see it all the time, but I kind of liked it at that moment. We needed the first down.”
Hill lost the ball on the first play of the fourth quarter and Keith Lewis scooped it up and escaped the scrum to return it for the score, expending the lead to 35-7.
Josh Reynolds grabbed a 24-yard touchdown pass with about nine minutes left to get the Aggies to 35-14.
Texas A&M forced a punt and was driving when Senquez Golson intercepted a pass at the goal line. He leads the SEC with five interceptions and the team’s 12 interceptions are also most in the league.
The Rebels have forced at least one turnover in 29 straight games, the second-longest streak in the FBS.
Texas A&M entered the game averaging 47.8 points, which ranks third in the nation, but had trouble moving the ball until the fourth quarter against a Mississippi defense that entered the game allowing just 10.2 points a game.
Hill, who threw three interceptions in last week’s loss to Mississippi State, seemed to struggle to find a rhythm for most of the night in his second straight game without senior receiver Malcome Kennedy, who sat out with a shoulder injury.
His second touchdown throw came when he found Sabian Holmes on a 13-yard pass on the last play of the game.