COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Trevor Knight got a tip from assistant coach Jim Turner before facing fourth down from the 1-yard line in overtime in Texas A&M’s 31-24 victory over No. 16 UCLA on Saturday.
The offensive line coach noticed how UCLA’s defense had approached several plays and told Knight what he should do.
“Coach Turner said … you’re going to have an opportunity to pull this ball and walk it into the end zone,” Knight said.
And that’s exactly what he did.
Knight threw for 239 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores, including that one in overtime to lead Texas A&M past UCLA in his debut with the Aggies.
Texas A&M sealed the victory when Justin Evans knocked down Josh Rosen’s pass at the goal line on fourth down.
“All I’m thinking is: ‘Man, I’ve got to make a play. I’ve got to make a play,'” Evans said. “He threw it up. I went up for it and made a play.”
Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, outplayed Rosen.
Rosen threw three interceptions while working under heavy pressure from a defense led by Myles Garrett.
The Aggies looked to have this one wrapped up when they led by 15 in the fourth quarter after using two third-quarter touchdowns.
But UCLA’s offense finally got going after that, scoring twice in two minutes with the second one coming on a 62-yard pass by Rosen to cut it two 2. A 2-point conversion after that TD tied it with 2:39 remaining.
The Bruins were driving again after a third straight punt by A&M when Evans intercepted Rosen’s pass for the second time to give A&M a chance to win it in regulation.
But Knight’s pass was knocked down in the end zone to force overtime.
“I took too long to get going, and that can’t happen,” Rosen said. “It’s a quarterback-driven sport, and you can’t have a quarterback play that bad in the first half. It’s completely unacceptable.”
Knight wasn’t the only former Sooner to shine for the Aggies on Saturday. Running back Keith Ford had a touchdown and 65 of A&M’s 203 yards rushing in his first game since setting out a year following his transfer from Oklahoma.
Garrett, who led the Southeastern Conference with 12 1/2 sacks last season, had a sack, 1 1/2 tackles for losses and two quarterback hurries on Saturday. He was asked if Rosen said anything to him.
“We didn’t have any chit chat. There was no trash talk,” Garrett said. “I just knew I was going to be in his face a lot.”
UCLA: Rosen will have to make better decisions and the Bruins need to shore up an offensive line that allowed five sacks on Saturday to get back on track and win the Pac-12’s South division as they were predicted to do.
TEXAS A&M: Coach Kevin Sumlin will certainly have plenty for Knight to work on after seeing him in game action for the first time with the Aggies. But his solid performance along with the excellent outing by the running game answered some questions about an offense that lost quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray to transfers and got a new offensive coordinator in Noel Mazzone this offseason.
UCLA: The Bruins will likely fall a few spots in the poll because of the loss, but should remain ranked thanks to the comeback that forced overtime.
Texas A&M: The Aggies were receiving the second-most votes among teams not ranked in the preseason poll, so they should enter the poll next week thanks to the win and several losses among ranked teams on opening weekend.
UCLA: The Bruins meet UNLV for just the second time next Saturday in their home opener.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies stay home again next week when they’ll face FCS opponent Prairie View, which is just 50 miles away, for the first time.
“Proud of our guys to get the win, but the way things happened we’ve got a lot to work on,” Sumlin said. “We kind of went to sleep at the wheel there early in the fourth quarter. We can’t have lapses like that.”
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org