COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Christian Kirk returned two punts for touchdowns and had a scoring catch 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 a school-record four in his career.
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.
"The kid is really punting the ball well and to do that twice in one night there's just no excuse," New Mexico State coach Doug Martin said.
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.
"We beat a team that we were supposed to beat and we made a bunch of big plays that we were supposed to make," Knight said. "The message after the game still was we can be sharper. We can be better. We still haven't played our best game yet."
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 handled business 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.
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