Jake Hubenak has been put in sticky situations before. So when his name was called in the second half of Texas A&M’s home opener on Saturday night, it was like riding a bike.
The Georgetown graduate started the second half and helped the Aggies hold on for a 24-14 win over Nicholls State Saturday night at Kyle Field.
“The game kind of dictated the change,” Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Jake came in and did a nice job. He operated with tempo and being able to manage the clock. We didn’t ask him to get down the field with throws.”
Kellen Mond made his first career start after finishing A&M’s Week 1 loss to UCLA when starter Nick Starkel left with an injury and finished 12-of-21 for 105 yards and one touchdown, the first of his career. Hubenack finished the game 12-of-15 for 93 yards.
“It really doesn’t matter what the situation is, when it presents itself I’m ready to go,” Hubenak said. “Sometimes you just need a change of pace out there. The guys did a great job responding when I got in the game. It’s not always easy switching out quarterbacks.”
Defensively, Texas A&M allowed 97 rushing yards and has given up fewer than 100 yards on the group in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011. Otaro Alaka led the way with eight sacks.
In six seasons in College Station, Sumlin has yet to lose to a non-conference opponent, boasting a perfect 17-0 mark. It was the 80th win of his coaching career and the 26th straight time the Aggies beat a non-conference team at home.
Mond’s first career touchdown pass came on the first drive of the game. The 27-yard toss to a wide open Christian Kirk capped off an eight-play, 79-yard drive.
The reception put Kirk over 7,000 career yards and became just the seventh Aggie to eclipse the mark. It was also the 17th receiving touchdown of his career, tying him with Mike Evans for sixth on the all-time receiving touchdowns list.
Trayveon Williams doubled the lead for A&M later in the quarter with a 17-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with 56 yards.
Nicholls State added a pair of field goals in the second quarter and scored the first touchdown of the second half on a 5-yard score from Chase Fourcade to Steven LeBouef. The Colonels converted the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Of the 97 yards sophomore Kendall Bussey had in the game, 92 of them came in the fourth quarter. The Aggies had the ball for more than 12 minutes, Bussey scored with just over seven minutes left, and they won their home opener for the fifth straight season.
“There are always going to be guys that you’re not talking about as players, particularly young players,” Sumlin said. “When their time comes, they need to be mentally ready. What you saw tonight was a guy that had his opportunity and made the most of it.”
The Aggies finish their non-conference schedule next week at 11 a.m. at Kyle Field against Louisiana-Lafayette before opening conference play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Arkansas.
This has been a trying week for the seemingly always under pressure head coach. After being on the wrong end of the second biggest comeback in NCAA Football history last week, he received a racially loaded letter that was mailed to his house.
His wife, Charlene, Tweeted out of a picture of the letter that was very graphic in nature and ended with a threat. Since then, the Brazos County Sheriff has opened an investigation into the origin of the letter, which had a return address corresponding to Houston Country Club.
“I’ve done this a long time and I get lots of mail,” Sumlin said. “I get both positive and negative at the office. For that to come to my home and for her to open it is completely different. My wife and kids have never called a play or done anything football wise that led to us losing a game.”