Devon Achane's long TD run propels Texas A&M to Orange Bowl win over North Carolina

Nick Bromberg
·4 min read

Devon Achane’s biggest run of the season came in Texas A&M’s last game of the season.

The freshman scored a 76-yard touchdown with 3:44 left to break a tie and power No. 5 Texas A&M to a 41-27 win over No. 13 North Carolina in Saturday night’s Orange Bowl.

Achane entered the game with 224 yards on just 31 carries in 2020. Saturday night, he was Texas A&M’s best rushing threat after Isaiah Spiller was forced to leave the game and broke multiple tackles on the way to the game-winning score.

North Carolina (8-4) had a chance to tie or take the lead on its next drive but didn’t even get a first down. The Tar Heels were stopped a full yard short of the first down on fourth down on their drive. Achane then scored again with less than two minutes left to seal A&M’s win.

Should A&M have been in the playoff?

After Notre Dame lost by 17 to Alabama on Friday there were a lot of Aggie fans who thought their 9-1 team deserved to be in the playoff after finishing at No. 5 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

Well, A&M lost by 28 to Alabama earlier in the season. And it was hard to see how A&M was a playoff team for much of the Orange Bowl. North Carolina entered the game without two 1,000-yard rushers in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, a 1,000-yard receiver in Dyami Brown and its leading tackler in LB Chaz Surratt. And it matched the Aggies for the first three quarters.

If A&M couldn’t beat a depleted North Carolina team that lost 31-14 at full strength to Notre Dame, did it really have a playoff case? No. And it’s hard to take A&M’s playoff arguments seriously anyway. There was no indication that the Aggies could have played Alabama any closer than they did in October.

Kellen Mond ties Johnny Manziel’s record

Texas A&M senior QB Kellen Mond tied Johnny Manziel’s career record for touchdowns on Saturday night when he scored a rushing TD in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 27-27.

Mond’s TD was the 93rd of his career and tied him with the Heisman winner for the most career TDs in school history. Mond — who could come back in 2021 if he wants to take advantage of the NCAA’s COVID-19 rule giving every player an extra year of eligibility — has been a solid quarterback for his entire Aggie tenure. He completed 59 percent of his passes and threw 71 TDs to just 27 interceptions.

But it’s imperative to note that he tied Manziel’s record in double the time. Manziel scored those 93 touchdowns in two seasons with Texas A&M. Manziel racked up all his touchdowns in 2012 and 2013 across 26 games as Texas A&M barged into the SEC. Mond scored his 93 TDs across 46 games over four seasons.

Sam Howell will enter 2021 as a top QB

If you’re looking ahead to the 2022 NFL draft, North Carolina QB Sam Howell is going to be a trendy pick to be the first QB taken.

The sophomore was 18-of-31 passing or 234 yards and three touchdowns and an interception against the Aggies. The chicken-loving QB — seriously, Howell says he only eats chicken — finishes his second season with the Tar Heels with 30 TD passes and seven interceptions. He’s thrown 67 touchdowns over two seasons with the school and played Saturday night without his top three offensive weapons.

He still looked good. And his stats could have been better. Khafre Brown dropped a deep pass from Howell in the fourth quarter when the game was tied. Look at how well this ball was thrown.

With Howell back at QB, North Carolina will enter 2021 somewhere in the top 25 and in the top three in the ACC along with Clemson and Miami.

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