COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — There was no way Texas A&M was giving up this first-half lead.
Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns, Cyrus Gray ran for three more and Texas A&M built a 44-0 halftime advantage on the way to an easy 61-7 win over mistake-prone Kansas on Saturday.
The victory breaks the Aggies’ three-game skid and makes them eligible for a bowl game. It extends the Jayhawks’ Big 12 losing streak to 11 games, with their last win coming against Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010.
The Aggies were up 23-0 in the first quarter after two touchdown runs by Gray and a TD pass by Tannehill. Three second-quarter turnovers by Kansas (2-9, 0-8) helped Texas A&M (6-5, 4-4) extend the lead to 44-0 by halftime.
Texas A&M has lost three games this season after leading by double figures at halftime. There was no such letdown Saturday, with A&M adding a rushing TD by Ben Malena, a field goal and a 72-yard punt return for a score by Dustin Harris in the third quarter to make it 61-0.
Defensive end/linebacker Damontre Moore said they were intent on not letting up in the second half.
“That is the key,” Moore said. “We wanted to keep going and not get complacent. I believe in the last few games we got a little complacent. We really wanted to go into the Texas game with a victory.”
The Aggies end the regular season Thanksgiving night against the Longhorns. It will be the last meeting with their archrival for quite some time, with Texas A&M leaving for the Southeastern Conference after this season.
Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb threw for 133 yards and lost two fumbles, threw an interception and was sacked six times.
Moore led a smothering defensive effort by A&M, finishing with eight tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Tannehill, who was replaced by backup Jameill Showers with eight minutes left in the third quarter, was 21 of 26 for 280 yards. Gray had nine carries for 94 yards to surpass 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He’s the third player in school history to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Gray didn’t play after halftime and was on the sideline in street clothes with what coach Mike Sherman said was a bruised shoulder.
“We’re looking at it, and I held him out,” Sherman said. “(It will be) further evaluated, I don’t have a final analysis on him yet.”
Gray’s injury left the Aggies with Malena as their only healthy running back, so they took the redshirt off freshman Will Randolph. Sherman said it was a difficult but necessary decision.
“I thought it was important he got reps in this ball game,” Sherman said. “That’s just part of it. That’s what we had to do.”
Ryan Swope had nine receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns for Texas A&M.
James Sims ran for 88 yards and scored on a 15-yard run with less than a minute remaining to make it 61-7.
The Jayhawks couldn’t get anything going on offense before that drive and came close to scoring only once, but a 39-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter sailed wide left.
“This game felt like a new low,” Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson said. “We came out flat and everything went wrong. We had opportunities to make plays, and we just didn’t make them.”
Turnovers doomed Kansas in the second quarter, with the first one coming on a fumble that was recovered by Moore. The Aggies took advantage three plays later when Tannehill found Swope on a 52-yard touchdown pass on which he shook off two defenders on his way to the end zone to push the lead to 30-0.
“Our guys just didn’t seem like they had the energy,” Kansas coach Turner Gill said. “We just didn’t execute early on. A&M got on us pretty good. We got outcoached (and) outplayed. You can’t have turnovers against a good football team.”
Steven Terrell intercepted Webb on the Jayhawks’ next possession and Gray’s third touchdown came a few plays later to leave the score at 37-0.
Another turnover by Webb, this one on a fumble when he was sacked by Moore, ended the next Kansas drive. The Aggies were unable to score after that mistake, and Kansas got the ball back after Tannehill’s pass on fourth down fell incomplete.
Nate Askew grabbed a 27-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill a minute before halftime that left the Aggies up 44-0.
The Jayhawks got the ball back, but Moore sacked Webb and caused a fumble, which Kansas recovered to end the first half.
Gray put A&M up 7-0 when he scored on a 30-yard run on the Aggies’ first drive.
Texas A&M got a safety in the first quarter when the snap on a Kansas punt attempt sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone to make it 9-0.
Tannehill’s first touchdown pass to Swope for 27 yards stretched Texas A&M’s lead to 16-0 later in the first quarter.
Gray scored on a 36-yard run on which he tightroped the sideline and dashed into the end zone untouched to make it 23-0 with about two minutes left in the first quarter.
TEXAS A&M 61, KANSAS 7
Kansas 0 0 0 7 — 7
Texas A&M 23 21 17 0 — 61
TAM — Gray 30 run (Bullock kick), 11:21.
TAM — Safety, 6:01.
TAM — R.Swope 27 pass from Tannehill (Bullock kick), 3:58.
TAM — Gray 36 run (Bullock kick), 2:08.
TAM — R.Swope 52 pass from Tannehill (Bullock kick), 13:09.
TAM — Gray 1 run (Bullock kick), 7:34.
TAM — Askew 27 pass from Tannehill (Bullock kick), :50.
TAM — Malena 1 run (Bullock kick), 11:52.
TAM — FG Bullock 28, 5:45.
TAM — Harris 72 punt return (Bullock kick), 4:13.
Kan — Sims 15 run (Mueller kick), :46.
A — 86,411.
First downs 19 23
Rushes-yards 55-64 33-189
Passing 133 280
Comp-Att-Int 19-28-1 21-27-0
Return Yards 0 204
Punts-Avg. 5-44.2 0-0.0
Fumbles-Lost 5-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-40 1-15
Time of Possession 38:17 21:43
RUSHING — Kansas, Sims 19-88, Matthews 2-18, Miller 11-16, Lewis 6-11, Beshears 1-5, Pierson 7-3, Team 2-(minus 36), Webb 7-(minus 41). Texas A&M, Gray 9-94, Randolph 10-37, Malena 8-32, Showers 5-24, Tannehill 1-2.
PASSING — Kansas, Webb 19-27-1-133, Mecham 0-1-0-0. Texas A&M, Tannehill 21-26-0-280, Showers 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Kansas, Pick 5-46, Matthews 4-39, Sims 3-6, Beshears 2-27, Pierson 2-1, Shepherd 1-8, Steward 1-8, Miller 1-(minus 2). Texas A&M, R.Swope 9-137, Kennedy 3-23, Askew 2-36, Fuller 2-33, Branda.Jackson 2-33, Prioleau 1-8, Hicks 1-5, Nwachukwu 1-5.