September 9, 2000
COLLEGE STATION, Texas-- The Farris to Ferguson connection is something A&M fans hope to see a lot more of after its Kyle Field debut Saturday night.
Making his first start in front of the home faithful, sophomore quarterback Mark Farris completed 14-of-21 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Robert Ferguson, on the other hand, hauled in seven catches for a whopping 174 yards and two scores. The duo helped lead the Texas A&M Aggies to their 20th straight home victory with a 51-3 win over the Wyoming Cowboys before 69,273 fans at Kyle Field and a national television audience.
A one-two punch, in the air and on the ground, allowed A&M big plays from both aspects of its offensive attack. The Aggies, who tallied nearly 500 yards of offense, threw for 100 more than they rushed for in averaging nearly eight yards per play. Despite dominating the time of possession war, Wyoming was held to just 213 total yards.
"We played a good game tonight and it's good to get that first win under our belt," Farris said. "We didn't have a lot of plays in the first half, but we made the most of our opportunities. We put points on the board. We did a lot of good things as a team tonight and we still have some things we need to get done this week."
An impressive game-opening drive saw the Cowboys methodically march down the field, marching 52 yards in 12 plays before settling for a 40-yard field goal by Aaron Elling. On the ensuing kickoff, Wyoming attempted an onside kick but touched the ball before it went the allotted 10 yards. A&M received excellent field position as a result and did not disappoint.
Farris would start off with a bang, finding senior wide receiver Chris Taylor over the middle on 1st down for 21 yards. Following an incomplete pass, redshirt freshman Richard Whitaker raced 23 yards on a sweep around the right side for his second touchdown in as many games. The 35-second drive gave A&M the lead for good at 7-3.
The Aggies would capitalize on a Wyoming mental error to add to their lead early in the second quarter. A punt by freshman Cody Scates hit Cowboy special teamer Aaron Calahan in the foot at his own five, and freshman Dawon Gentry recovered for A&M. Junior Ja'Mar Toombs bowled into the end zone on the ensuing play for his first score of the night.
With two minutes to play before halftime, Farris completed a 1st-down shovel pass to Toombs for 14 yards and followed that up with completions of 11, 10 and 19 yards to move the Aggies down to the Wyoming 5-yard line. After a two-yard loss, Farris found junior transfer Robert Ferguson for a seven-yard touchdown and a 21-3 halftime lead.
The longest play of the game came on A&M's first of the third quarter. Farris found Ferguson wide open deep down the right sideline, good for a 93-yard touchdown pass. The completion was the second longest in school history, behind only Taylor's 96-yarder last year from Randy McCown. With 11:15 to play in the quarter, the Aggies held a commanding 28-3 lead.
We played an all-around team game tonight," Ferguson said. "Everybody played well. This is the type of score we want to see on the scoreboard each week. We just need to continue to work hard and play hard each week. We've got the ability and we showed a little bit of that tonight."
Farris would complete his work on the evening midway through the third quarter, engineering an 80-yard, 10-play drive that would put A&M up by 32 points. A 20-yard completion to Ferguson and a nice quarterback keeper set up Toombs for a 1-yard plunge, his second touchdown of the game. It was his third multi-TD effort in the last four regular season contests.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Colby Freeman would score his first career touchdown early in the fourth quarter, calling his own number from the 4-yard line. Another redshirt freshman, running back Maurice Harris, carried for 37 yards on the drive.
Terence Kitchens added a 40-yard field goal with six minutes to play, and fullback Amon Simon hit paydirt from one yard out to close out the scoring.
"This was a good home opener for us," A&M head coach R.C. Slocum said. "I saw a lot of positive things but we still have a lot of work to get done. I was pleased with the way the team prepared during the week."
The Aggies return to action Saturday when they play host to the Texas-El Paso Miners in their final non-conference tilt before the Big 12 season begins. Kickoff at Kyle Field is set for 7 p.m. (CDT).
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES
FARRIS SHINES IN HOME STARTING DEBUT --- Sophomore quarterback Mark Farris completed 14-of-21 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns in his first start at Kyle Field. It was the most prolific home starting debut by an A&M since 1996 when Branndon Stewart threw for 275 yards against Tulsa. Farris connected with his new best friend Robert Ferguson for a pair of touchdowns, including a 93-yarder which was the second-longest reception in school history.
FERGUSON MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME --- Junior wide receiver Robert Ferguson had a huge Kyle Field debut with 7 catches for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was the best home debut ever by an A&M receiver. The only A&M receiver with a 100-yard game in his home debut was tight end Rich Siler, who grabbed 6 passes for 107 yards in a 1983 loss to Cal-Berkeley. Ferguson had a pair of touchdowns, including a 93-yarder that was the second-longest in school history. Ferguson's 174 yards tied for the fifth-best effort in school history (with Chris Cole against North Texas in 1998). The school record is 250 yards on 13 catches by Ken "Dude" McLean in 1965.
BIG HOME CROWD FOR AGGIES --- Tonight's attendance of 69,273 marked the fourth-largest home-opener crowd in school history. The record for a home opener is 72,577 against Oklahoma in 1994. The other two crowds were: 71,282 against LSU in 1987 and 70,057 against LSU in 1995.
FIRST DRIVE SCORING --- The Aggies scored a touchdown on its first possession, changing a trend that plagued them throughout 1999. Last season, the Aggies scored just one touchdown on their first possession (10th game of season against Missouri).
TOUCHDOWN TOOMBS --- Junior fullback Ja'Mar Toombs had a pair of rushing touchdowns against Wyoming, giving the 275-pounder three multi-TD games in his last four regular season games.
TAYLOR PASSES 1,000 CAREER RECEIVING YARDS --- With 48 yards on 2 catches against Wyoming, senior Chris Taylor eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yards. His career total is 1,009 on 57 catches. He needs 223 more yards to match Brian Mitchell's (1991-94) 1,232 yards and enter A&M's career top 10. The school record is 1,576 by Tony Harrison (1990-93). In tonight's game, Taylor racked up 115 all-purpose yards - 48 receiving and 66 on punt returns - on just five touches.
FLEMONS BREAKS SACK DROUGHT --- Senior defensive end Ronald Flemons, who is in third year as a starter, broke a long quarterback sack drought with a first-quarter trap of Cowboy QB Jay Stoner. It was Flemons' first sack since the 1998 Southern Mississippi game, a span of 24 games.
OTHER FIRSTS --- Robert Ferguson's 7-yard TD reception from Mark Farris was the first of his career. It was also Farris's first-career TD pass ... Greg Porter's second-quarter grab was the first official catch of his career. He did have a catch against Penn State in the Alamo Bowl, which isn't included in official stats ... Ty Warren's third-quarter sack of Cowboy backup QB Matt Swanson was the first of his career...Redshirt freshman QB Colby Freeman made his playing debut tonight and turned in a 13-yard rush for a first down on his first play ... On the next play, sophomore running back Maurice Harris had a 11-yard tote for a first down on his first career carry ... junior running back Amon Simon posted his first career TD run with a one-yard plunge late in the game.
GAME CAPTAINS/12TH MAN KICKOFF --- Today's captains for Texas A&M were: senior tight end RoDerrick Broughton, junior defensive end Evan Perroni, senior outside linebacker Roylin Bradley and freshman punter Cody Scates...Representing the Texas A&M student body on the 12th Man Kickoff Team against Wyoming was Scott Stickane, a redshirt freshman from Trophy Club, Texas.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH R.C. SLOCUM:
"This was a good home opener for us. I saw a lot of positive things but we still have a lot of work to get done. I was pleased with the way the team prepared during the week. I was especially pleased we were able to play a lot of players."
QUARTERBACK MARK FARRIS:
"We played a good game tonight and it's good to get that first win under our belt. We didn't have a lot of plays in the first half, but we made the most of our opportunities. We put points on the board. We did a lot of good things as a team tonight and we still have some things we need to get done this week. Wyoming fought hard, but we just wore them down."
WIDE RECEIVER ROBERT FERGUSON:
"We played an all-around team game tonight. Everybody played well. This is the type of score we want to see on the scoreboard each week. We just need to continue to work hard and play hard each week. We've got the ability and we showed a little bit of that tonight."
On the 93-yard pass play: "The defender fell down. Mark (Farris) made a great pass. I just concentrated on the ball and made the catch. I saw nothing but green and took it to the house."
LINEBACKER BRIAN GAMBLE:
"I thought we made a lot of improvement tonight. There is an old adage that says 'You make your most improvement between the first and second game.' I think we showed that tonight. We improved on both offense and defense. We turned it up a notch in practice tonight and I think it showed. Wyoming is a good team and we played better on offense, defense and special teams."