Dec 19, 2020; Knoxville, TN, USA;  Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond (11) scrambles with the ball during a game between Tennessee and Texas A&M in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Mandatory Credit: Brianna Paciorka-USA TODAY NETWORK

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No. 5 Texas A&M dominates Tennessee, makes CFP case

Kellen Mond passed for one touchdown, ran for another and gained 340 yards of total offense, and Ainias Smith added two total touchdowns to boost College Football Playoff hopeful Texas A&M to a 34-13 victory against host Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in Knoxville.

The No. 5 Aggies answered an early touchdown from the Volunteers by scoring 17 consecutive points en route to their seventh consecutive victory. Now that it has put the pressure on the top four teams in the CFP, each scheduled to play on Saturday, Texas A&M (8-1, 8-1 Southeastern Conference) must anxiously await other results while resting on the laurels of its regular-season resume.

Four of the previous six schools who entered conference championship weekend at No. 5 qualified for the playoff.

“We deserve to be in,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I believe that firmly. I’ve watched the games. We can play with anybody.”

Texas A&M’s lone loss came by 28 points at Alabama, No. 1 in the CFP, in the second week of the season. That result notwithstanding, Fisher touted the toughness of the SEC in amplifying his team’s case.

“Seven straight SEC wins,” he said. “Some schools haven’t even played seven games. If you want to pick the best four teams, we’re one of ’em.”

Mond was 26-for-32 passing for 281 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He rushed 12 times for 59 yards and a score, and along with Isaiah Spiller (26 carries for 89 yards), helped the Aggies control the ball for 44:09 — above their season average of 36:50.

After the Volunteers drew to within 17-13 on a 46-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Shrout to Cedric Tillman with 4:08 left before halftime, Smith scored on a 4-yard pass from Mond with just 18 seconds to go before the break. Smith, who rushed for 70 yards on eight carries, added a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:02 left in the game before Seth Small closed the scoring with a 21-yard field goal with 1:16 to go.

Tennessee (3-7, 3-7 SEC) needed just five plays and 2:32 to cover 75 yards on the game’s opening drive, punctuating the possession with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Harrison Bailey to Jacob Warren.

Texas A&M responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took nearly six minutes, with Mond scoring on a 5-yard run. The Aggies visited the end zone after a lengthy possession on their ensuing series, as well, marching 69 yards on 12 plays in 6:12. Spiller scored on a 3-yard run with 13:17 remaining in the second quarter to put the Aggies ahead 14-7. They never trailed after that.

Volunteers leading rusher Eric Gray was unavailable for the game, and Tennessee was outgained, 497 yards for the Aggies to 213 for the Volunteers. Ty Chandler paced Tennessee with 31 yards on seven carries. Shrout and Bailey combined go 12-for-20 passing for 189 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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