No. 21 TEXAS A&M 52 No. 9 SOUTH CAROLINA 28
By PETE IACOBELLI
COLUMBIA — Kenny Hill broke Johnny Manziel’s single-game passing record with 511 yards and No. 21 Texas A&M beat No. 9 South Carolina 52-28 on Thursday night, ending the Gamecocks’ 18-game home win streak.
Hill’s performance in his first career start proved there is plenty of life in the Aggies’ offense without Manziel, a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round selection in the NFL draft. Hill finished 44 of 60 with three touchdowns.
Hill was steady and confident in the pocket, leading Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) to a 31-14 halftime lead and finishing up with the most passing yards allowed in Steve Spurrier’s 10 seasons with the Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1).
“I think we all had a chip on our shoulders,” Texas A&M defensive lineman Julien Obioha said.
The Gamecocks played their first game since the departure of star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney -- and it showed. South Carolina gave up seven TDs on A&Ms first 11 possessions.
Tra Carson ran for three touchdowns and receiver Malcome Kennedy had 14 catches for 137 yards. The Aggies piled up 680 yards of offense, the most South Carolina’s given up since Arkansas went for 650 in 2007.
Manziel held five of the Aggies’ six best passing marks, topped by his 464 yards in a loss to Alabama last season. Hill moved past them all with his flawless showing on the road.
Hill’s 44 completions were also a single-game school record, moving past Jerrod Johnson’s mark against Oklahoma State in 2010.
Hill and the Aggies essentially put this one away in the first half, scoring on five of six possessions. Hill, who played just four games last year in mop-up duty, looked at ease against the Gamecocks and their young defense.
Hill completed passes to 12 receivers, most of them running free in a rebuilt secondary.
“That team is so much better than us, it wasn’t funny,” Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said.
South Carolina, coming off three straight 11-2 seasons, had hoped to kick off a run to the conference title in a Thursday night showcase game on the startup SEC Network.
Manziel, taken 22nd overall by Cleveland, was among three Texas A&M players picked in the first round last May. And the Aggies showed they could still operate without last year’s standouts.
Malcome Kennedy had 10 catches for 85 yards in the first two quarters, allowing Aggie fans to rest easier about star Mike Evans moving on to Tampa Bay.
The offensive line provided plenty of time for Hill despite Jake Matthews heading to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
The Aggies got going on their first possession, and Carson finished a 67-yard drive with 1-yard TD.
South Carolina stayed close on two long scoring throws of 69 and 46 yards by new starting quarterback Dylan Thompson, the second to Damiere Byrd that helped the Gamecocks close to 17-14.
But Hill and the Aggies were relentless, pressing forward through South Carolina’s Clowney-less defense.
Hill, the sophomore son of ex-major league pitcher Ken Hill, led TD drives of 75 and 80 yards in the final nine minutes before the half.
The 393 yards of A&M offense at the half were more than South Carolina’s defense had allowed in nine of 13 games a year ago.
Thompson passed for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Mike Davis, the Gamecocks’ 1,000-yard rusher, had 15 yards in the first half before re-injuring his ribs and sitting out the rest of the way.