COLLEGE STATION — It took a total of 28 seconds for Texas A&M to turn senior day into a party.
Nick Starkel threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns to help the Aggies beat New Mexico 55-14 Saturday night at Kyle Field, snapping a two-game losing streak and becoming bowl eligible for the ninth straight year in the process.
“It was important for the style of play that we executed our passing game the way we did,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Nick played well, but our perimeter guys made plays too. That’s the confidence level you need. Next week is a different week.”
Starkel is just the 12th A&M quarterback to surpass the 400-yard mark.
The first Texas A&M drive went 75 yards on two plays and lasted just 28 seconds, capped off by a 60-yard bomb from Nick Starkel to Christian Kirk. The Aggies scored on their first six drives of the game, including a 97-yard drive to finish off the opening quarter.
Kirk energized the stadium further with a punt return in the second quarter. After taking the ball at his own 10, he ran right through the heart of the New Mexico kickoff unit. It was his first special teams touchdown this season and the sixth of his career.
“That’s just Christian Kirk being Christian Kirk,” senior Armani Watts said.
Kirk finished the game with 120 yards receiving, while Roshauud Paul had 129 yards through the air and Jhamon Ausbon finished with 105 yards and a score. Senior Damion Ratley caught three passes, two of which were touchdowns.
The defense held New Mexico to just 144 total yards of offense and held the Lobos to 3 of 13 on 3rd down. Jayden Peevy led the Aggies with six tackles and Micheal Clemons added five and a tackle for loss. Justin Dunning had one interception.
Sumlin called off the dogs in the second half. With mainly backups and seniors in, the Aggies scored one touchdown in the final 30 minutes. Kellen Mond threw a 7-yard pass to Cam Buckley.
Kyle Field chanted for senior quarterback Jake Hubenak, who transferred to A&M from Blinn Junior College in 2015. The Georgetown native made an appearance late in the fourth quarter to cap off his three-year career with the Aggies.
“This team is as close a football team as I’ve been around,” Sumlin said. “There is a lot of trust in that locker room. Because of that, there is a closeness that hasn’t been here in the last six years.”
Texas A&M finishes the regular season with back-to-back road games. It first goes to Oxford to face off with Ole Miss before finishing the year on the road at No. 24 LSU, whom they haven’t beaten since 1995.
The win was Sumlin’s 50th as head coach at A&M. But neither he, in his last year under contract, or the players are letting the outside pressure get to them as the season winds down.
“There’s not another college football coach that I’d rather play for in the whole country,” Kirk said. “He’s given so many dudes the chance to play college football. He’s been the same dude since he sat in my living room. He’s true to his word.”