MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- There were touchdowns, pick-sixes, spin moves, pushes, shoves (even a punch or two) and a whole lot of points and yards. At the end, Texas A&M outlasted West Virginia 45-37 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Monday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Here’s how it went down:
How the game was won: It was a shootout early, with 55 points scored between the two teams in the first two quarters, but in the final two quarters, Texas A&M won it with its defense. Despite having an interim defensive coordinator -- linebackers coach Mark Hagen was serving in the role after the Aggies fired Mark Snyder the day after Thanksgiving -- Texas A&M held a high-powered West Virginia offense to only 10 points in the second half. Sure, West Virginia played a backup quarterback (Skyler Howard), but the Aggies have had trouble stopping anybody this season.
Game ball goes to: Kyle Allen. The true freshman grew up quite a bit after tossing an early pick-six, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes and rushing for another. Allen finished the day 22-of-35 for 294 yards. If he’s to be the quarterback of the Aggies’ future, he made a solid case why on Monday.
It was over when: Allen hit Malcome Kennedy over the middle with a 21-yard pass on third-and-3 for a first down with just more than two minutes remaining in the game. The Mountaineers couldn't stop the clock at that point and the Aggies were able to run it all the way out.
Stat of the game: If you like offense, this game was for you. The teams combined for 1,001 offensive yards and 82 points. Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen aren’t considered offensive-minded head coaches for nothing. Also of note: Texas A&M sophomore receiver Josh Reynolds broke the Aggies’ single-season school record for touchdown catches with his 13th, surpassing Mike Evans and Jeff Fuller in the record book.
Best play: Allen was ranked as the country’s No. 1 pocket passer in the 2014 recruiting class, but he showed he’s more than just arm on his lone touchdown run of the day. Allen made an impressive spin move to escape pressure, sprinted and dove to the pylon for a 14-yard touchdown run. The score gave A&M a 28-27 lead late in the first half, and the Aggies would never relinquish the lead.