COLLEGE STATION — The Texas A&M Aggies treated the football like a hot potato against the UTEP Miners in their nonconference game Saturday.
Johnny Manziel and crew got the ball, scored quickly and racked up points after a rough start.
Manziel completed 16 of 24 passes for 273 yards, ran for 77 yards and matched a career-best six touchdowns to help No. 12 Texas A&M (7-2, 3-2 SEC) cruise past the Texas-El Paso Miners (1-7, 0-4 Conference USA) 57-7 at Kyle Field.
“We kicked it into high gear, and the message was to come out in the second half and play like we did in the second quarter,” Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said.
The Aggie offense put up 55 points while having possession of the ball for only 23:54. Manziel threw for four touchdowns and ran for two.
A&M senior wide receiver Travis Labhart caught a career-best two touchdown passes. He ended the night with four catches for 83 yards.
“We felt like our receiving corps could make plays down the field and it kind of just happened to fall that way tonight,” Labhart said.
The Miners came into the game without the services of starting quarterback and former Shoemaker standout Jameill Showers.
Sophomore Blaire Sullivan started for the Miners and completed 9 of 17 passes for 71 yards, but threw three interceptions.
Sullivan got things going on the second Miner drive of the game and led UTEP to its first and only lead of the night.
Sullivan ran 23 yards for the first UTEP first down to midfield. He completed two of his next three passes for 52 yards to set up an Aaron Jones 4-yard touchdown run that gave UTEP a 7-2 lead with 5:39 remaining in the first quarter.
“We felt like we could do some things against them,” Sullivan said. “We were running the ball well and we had a couple of opportunities to pass the ball. That happened to be a good drive that we ended up scoring on.”
After that, Manziel took over and threw touchdown passes of 44, 15 and 17 yards to go along with a 10-yard rush score that helped A&M score 34 unanswered points in the first half.
Manziel completed 12 of his first 19 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 28 yards on four carries and a touchdown in the first half.
Then the A&M defense took over. The Miners gained 104 yards and five first downs in the opening quarter, but UTEP ended the night with 198 total yards and 10 first downs.
“We’re all just on board, and it’s going to carry on for the rest of the season,” A&M junior defensive lineman Gavin Stansbury said about the defensive effort.
The Aggies scored 21 points on three UTEP turnovers in the final 9:09 of the first half to blow the game open.
“That really put our defense in a tough spot,” UTEP head coach Sean Kugler said. “I really felt that our defense at that point could really compete. Its tough when you give an offense that good a short field.”
Manziel ran for a 49-yard touchdown and connected with Mike Evans for a 26-yard score that made it 50-7 A&M midway through the third quarter before Kenny Hill came in to play quarterback.
The Aggies will play their final home game of the season on Saturday against Mississippi State while UTEP resumes CUSA play at North Texas.