COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Whether or not Saturday was Johnny Manziel’s last home game, the Heisman Trophy winner certainly made sure to soak in every last moment.
Manziel threw for 446 yards and tied a career-high with five touchdown passes to lead No. 11 Texas A&M to a 51-41 win over Mississippi State.
The crowd chanted “one more year” late in the game for Manziel, who is eligible for the draft after this season. Whether he comes back remains to be seen, but he went into the stands to celebrate with the student section when the game was over.
Manziel denied that he even has entertained the thought that he might not play here again.
“Not one bit,” he said. “I’m focused on trying to get us to a BCS bowl.”
He did admit that Saturday was an emotional day and said that the crowd was “awesome.”
“With the chant and with the energy they brought … just a great way to end this year,” he said putting extra emphasis on the words “this year.”
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin wouldn’t directly discuss whether he thought Manziel would leave.
“We have a process that we go through,” Sumlin said. “We talk all the time about opportunities down the road … I think we have enough of a relationship as a coaching staff with our players that those conversations will happen.”
Among the crowd of 88,504, third largest ever at A&M, on hand to see Manziel play at Kyle Field for the possibly final time was former President George H.W. Bush and former Texas A&M and current St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha.
Texas governor Rick Perry was the co-pilot in the pre-game flyover and also attended the game.
Receiver Malcome Kennedy seemed resigned to Manziel leaving early.
“Everybody would love to see him back here again,” he said. “But you have to make some decisions in life and it was fun playing with him.”
Manziel set a school career record for total yards with 9,040 and a single-season record with 31 touchdown passes. He became just the second A&M quarterback to run for 2,000 yards in a career and has 3,313 yards passing this year to become the first Aggie with two 3,000-yard passing seasons.
Johnny Football was his swashbuckling self in a game that has become pretty typical for the defensively challenged Aggies.
Mississippi State cut the lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but Manziel threw his fifth touchdown pass to make it 44-27 for A&M (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference). The defense grabbed an interception and Ben Malena’s 2-yard TD run extended the lead to 51-27.
Dak Prescott threw for 149 yards and two scores and ran for 154 yards for Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4).
Kennedy and Travis Labhart had two touchdown receptions each. Mike Evans had 116 yards receiving to break the school single-season record with 1,263.
The Bulldogs got within 10 points again after a touchdown throw by Tyler Russell with 2:19 remaining. But the onside kick was recovered by A&M.
Bulldogs receiver Jameon Lewis threw a touchdown pass to Joe Morrow on a reverse early in the fourth quarter to get within 37-27.
Trey Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. But it was negated by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he flipped into the end zone.
“He’s a fun-loving kid but he’s got to understand what’s at stake every time he’s playing,” Sumlin said. “That wasn’t very smart.”
The Aggies got the ball at the 18 and Manziel threw his fifth touchdown pass three plays later.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 10 points late in the third quarter on a touchdown pass by Prescott. But A&M made it 37-20 two plays later on a 15-yard run by Williams. That scored was set up by a 75-yard reception by Evans.
Russell started the game in place of Prescott, who missed practice this week after his mother died of cancer on Sunday. Prescott entered the game on Mississippi State’s third drive and got the majority of the snaps after that.
Prescott’s twitter profile had three pictures of him and his mother, the biggest one featuring him kissing her bald head as she smiled broadly. Before the game he tweeted: “I Live for you, I Play for you #MOM.”
“Obviously to go through what he had to go through and come out and perform, I’m just proud of him,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said, his voice cracking. “He’s an amazing young man beyond being a football player, a man that most parents would be proud if their kids grew up that way.”
Manziel was intercepted three times, twice by Jamerson Love. The turnovers helped keep Mississippi State close, but the Bulldogs couldn’t keep up.
“He made enough plays for us to win — made some big plays,” Sumlin said of Manziel. “I’m sure there’s a couple of them I know he’d like to have back. He had five touchdowns, for most people that’s pretty good.”
Manziel evaded the rush and connected with Kennedy for a 21-yard touchdown to extend Texas A&M’s lead to 30-14 in the third quarter.
Manziel had a highlight-reel play on A&M’s next drive when he did a nifty spin move to avoid a defender before dashing away and Derel Walker for a 26-yard gain on third-and-25. But Manziel’s third interception came two plays later when Nickoe Whitley picked him off inside the 5.
No matter. Johnny Football left them happy as usual at Kyle Field.