College Station, Texas - Quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 191 yards and three touchdowns including two to Christian Kirk as Texas A&M pulled away from upset-minded Western Carolina, 41-17, on Saturday night in nonconference action at Kyle Field.
Consecutive second quarter touchdowns including a 17-yard Detrez Newsome reception and a scoop-and-score by Avery Worsham on a fumbled kickoff return pulled Western Carolina even at 14. The Aggies took a one-score edge into the halftime locker room, 21-14, after the first of Kirk's receiving scores.
Texas A&M (7-3) outscored the NCAA FCS-member Catamounts 20-to-3 after intermission to pull away for the victory.
Troy Mitchell completed 17-of-31 passes for 165 yards and the 17-yard touchdown pass to Newsome in his return to his home state -- the lone Texan on WCU's roster. Newsome rushed for 111 yards, the second time the sophomore back eclipsed the century mark against an SEC opponent this fall. It was Newsome's fifth, 100-yard rushing performance giving him 968 yards on the ground in 2015.
Newsome matched a career-high with seven receptions for 31 yards while Spearman Robinson paced the team with 64 receiving yards on three catches, making two leaping grabs on the night.
In addition to Murray's 191 passing yards, running back Tra Carson rushed for 109 yards and a two-yard score, all coming in the first half. Senior Brice Dolezal carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards after intermission.
Texas A&M used a pair of Taylor Bertolet field goals from 47 and 52 yards away, plus a Murray TD pass to Damion Ratley to take a 20-point, 34-14, advantage after three quarters of play. WCU would get its final points on a 24-yard Logan Howard field goal, halving the Aggies at 34-17. Howard capped a 12-play, 78-yard Catamount drive that included TE Michael Helms' first reception of the season.
However, behind second QB Kyle Allen, the Aggies responded quickly as Allen guided the home squad down the field in just three plays, covering 68 yards including passes of 43 and 22 yards to Kirk, the second resulting in a touchdown to provide the final tally, 41-17.
Defensively for WCU, redshirt sophomore linebacker Daniel Riddle finished with 10 tackles and his second career interception coming in the first quarter. Fred Payne recorded nine stops including a sack as a part of 1.5 tackles for loss, with linebacker Tyson Dickson securing the Catamounts' other sack in a six-tackle performance. Just before halftime, outstanding freshman DB Marvin Tillman secured his first career interception, winning a jump-ball in the end zone to accompany his six tackles.
Texas A&M ran a combined 97 plays offensively as compared to just 58 for the Catamounts.
Western Carolina (6-4, 4-2 SoCon) travels to Lexington, Va., next Saturday, Nov. 21 to wrap-up the regular season, facing VMI in league action. The Keydets (2-8, 1-5 SoCon) were idle this week. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 pm.