COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Christian Kirk returned two punts for touchdowns and added a third score on a reception to help No. 9 Texas A&M rout New Mexico State 52-10 on Saturday night.
Texas A&M (7-1) took a break from Southeastern Conference play to face the Sun Belt team for the first time a week after suffering its first loss at top-ranked Alabama.
Kirk returned punts for 70 and 73 yards to become the first player in school history with two punt return scores in a game. He has four in his career, which is a Texas A&M record.
A 12-yard run by Trayveon Williams on A&M's first drive made it 7-0 before Kirk's first return TD pushed the lead to 14-0 later in the first. On that return, Kirk grabbed the ball and evaded the first wave of defenders before sidestepping another one, getting a couple of blocks, sprinting away from the rest of the defense and waltzing into the end zone.
Trevor Knight found Kirk on a 3-yard reception in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter to leave Texas A&M up 24-0.
Texas A&M was up by 28 points early in the third quarter when Kirk added his second return score to make it 38-3. Knight was replaced by backup Jake Hubenak not long after that, and most of A&M's starters were soon on the bench.
Tyler Rogers threw for 138 yards and a touchdown and ran for 40 yards for New Mexico State (2-6).
NEW MEXICO STATE: New Mexico State struggled to deal with the size and speed of Texas A&M and wasn't able to do much on either side of the ball. The team will savor its open date next week to recover and regroup from this lopsided defeat.
TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M did what it was supposed to do against a lesser opponent and got a much-needed week off from the rigors of the SEC as injuries have started to mount. Coach Kevin Sumlin held out star defensive end Myles Garrett, who has been dealing with a leg injury, and a few other players who are battling minor injuries with consecutive conference games ahead in the next two weeks.
NEW MEXICO STATE: The team is off Saturday before returning to Sun Belt play at Arkansas State on Nov. 12.
TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M visits Mississippi State on Saturday in its last road game before wrapping up the regular season with three straight games in College Station.
(© 2016 KAGS)