Texas A&M starting quarterback Kellen Mond shook off an interception on his first pass to throw for 172 yards and two touchdowns in leading the White to a 17-14 victory in the Maroon & White Game on Friday night at Kyle Field.
Mond, who a year ago was battling Nick Starkel for the starting job, completed seven straight passes after being picked off by Clifford Chattman. Mond’s streak included a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Camron Buckley and a 29-yard TD pass to sophomore tight end Glenn Beal to help the White to a 17-7 halftime lead.
“The first play was a bad throw. He just didn’t get his hips around,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Other than that, I thought Kellen played outstanding in the game. His reads and decisions were really good.”
Mond completed 14 of 26 passes. He said he underthrew Buckley on a wheel route on the interception, a play coaches recently added to the playbook.
“[I] just kind of had short-term memory and was able to bounce back from it,” Mond said. “Not only me, but the receivers were able to make plays.”
With Starkel transferring to Arkansas, Mond’s backups showed flashes.
Redshirt freshman James Foster completed 7 of 12 passes for 67 yards with an interception for the White. Zach Calzada completed 8 of 21 passes for 139 yards, including a 31-yard TD pass to fellow true freshman Baylor Cupp, for the White to tie the game at 7. Calzada also threw an interception as did sophomore Connor Blumrick, who was 4-of-12 passing for only 19 yards.
“[Calzada] made some nice plays,” Fisher said. “You could see some of his talent. James had that nice drive, [but] we put him in a tough situation at the end and had a missed assignment [on his interception]. But I thought he played well. And Blumrick, when he can run and do his things ... you take his strength away when you tag him and don’t let him run.”
Running was one of the night’s positives with sophomore Jacob Kibodi running for 107 yards on 20 carries for the Maroon, getting tackled behind the line only once. He added five catches for 53 yards. Freshman Deneric Prince rushed for 52 yards on 12 carries for the White, never getting tackled behind the line. He also had five catches for 38 yards. A&M was without sophomore running back Jashaun Corbin, who was having a solid spring until getting banged up. Corbin along with several key receivers didn’t play.
Cupp ended with five catches for 88 yards, and Beal had five catches for 70 yards.
White junior defensive back Moses Reynolds had two interceptions as the game had five turnovers. Maroon linebacker Aaron Hansford, a converted tight end, had nine tackles. Chattman had seven tackles, two for loss.
Mond shook off the interception with a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. The Maroon tied it with 3:46 left in the half. Calzada rolled right and stopped and hit Cupp down the numbers on the right side of the field. Calzada missed seven of his first eight passes, but the completion was a 24-yard swing pass to Kibodi on third down. Ke’Undre Azakytu came up with a 14-yard catch on another third-down conversion, making a nifty cutback and fighting through traffic for the last few yards.
The White answered with a field-goal drive engineered by Foster with freshman Caden Davis hitting from 45 yards with 6:33 left to make it 10-7.
The White increased its lead by converting a turnover. Reynolds had a 20-yard return of Blumrick’s interception, and Mond passed to Beal for a TD on the next play.
Kibodi scored on a 3-yard run with 28 seconds left in the game. It was a fast second half with a running clock until the final 2 minutes.