Robinson, A&M’s defensive line coach, is serving as the Aggies’ interim coach following last week’s firing of Jimbo Fisher. Robinson also is a candidate to take over full time for Fisher.
“I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people,” a jubilant Robinson said afterward. “I appreciate those people who prepared me for today.”
The Wildcats (5-6) grabbed an early, short-lived lead on A&M’s first offensive possession. ACU linebacker Cirby Coheley returned what was ruled a fumble by Henderson 49 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Henderson was hit on the play by linebacker Reese Young and the ball popped into the air. Coheley snagged the pop-up and hustled nearly half the field for the surprising early score.
A&M tied the game less than three minutes later on a 7-yard Rueben Owens touchdown run, and the double-digit victory for the SEC team versus its WAC opponent was on.
“We started off slow, and I’ve got to get that fixed in practice,” Robinson said.
The Aggies (7-4) added scores on a 34-yard Randy Bond field goal, a 13-yard touchdown catch by Noah Thomas, a 49-yard touchdown catch by Moose Muhammad III, a 3-yard touchdown run by David Bailey and a 13-yard touchdown catch by Jaden Platt from backup quarterback Marcel Reed with 56 seconds remaining.
Owens had a game-high 106 rushing yards on 18 carries and Muhammad III had a game-high 104 receiving yards on four catches.
“We all know what Moose is capable of, and his time was called,” Robinson said of the seldom-utilized receiver this season under Fisher.
ACU quarterback Maverick McIvor finished 19 of 34 for 149 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Henderson is a transfer from Fresno State and started the season as the Aggies’ third-string quarterback. He moved up the depth chart after starter Conner Weigman was hurt on Sept. 23 against Auburn and his backup, Max Johnson, was hurt on Nov. 4 at Mississippi.
“He settled down after the first half,” Robinson said of Henderson’s second college start.
Henderson led the Aggies to a 51-10 thrashing of Mississippi State on Nov. 11 at Kyle Field in what turned out to be Fisher’s finale at A&M. Meantime Robinson, a lifetime assistant, is now 1-0 as a college head coach.
“Coach ‘E’ came in with a lot of energy,” said A&M senior receiver Ainias Smith, who added the team was “down” on Sunday following Fisher’s firing. “We turned that right around on Monday.”
The Aggies had a slow start under their interim coach but finally gained some steam in the second quarter and fourth quarter in overwhelming their less-talented visitors. A&M, which lurched at times against ACU, will need to greatly improve over the next week to have a chance to win at LSU for the first time since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012.
Smith had two catches for 20 yards, and his 172 career receptions tie him for fourth all-time at A&M with Terrence Murphy (2001-04). Ryan Swope (2009-2012) holds the A&M career record with 252 catches.
12th MAN SPECIAL
Robinson turned to an all walk-on kickoff team twice in the fourth quarter as a nod to former coach Jackie Sherill, who employed walk-on kickoff teams while coaching the Aggies in the 1980s. A&M honored Sherill and the original 12th Man kickoff team of 1983 at halftime in celebrating the 40-year anniversary. The team allowed a 12-yard return on the first one and kicker Randy Bond kicked out of bounds on the second one with the game well in hand.
ACU’s season is complete.
The Aggies, eligible for a bowl for the first time in two years following last year’s 5-7 finish, wrap up their regular season on Nov. 25 at SEC West rival LSU.
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