COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Christine Michael rushed for 105 yards and Texas A&M's defense showed improvement from last season in the Aggies' 48-7 season-opening victory Saturday night over lower-division Stephen F. Austin.
A&M senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who set eight school records in 2009, completed 28 of 40 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. The Aggies finished with 539 yards -- 192 coming on 55 running plays.
The A&M defense, one of the nation's worst last year, held Stephen F. Austin to 266 yards and 13 first downs. The Aggies have switched to a 3-4 alignment this season under new coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who replaced the retired Joe Kines in the offseason.
Jeremy Moses, Stephen F. Austin's all-time leading passer, went 19-of-37 for 171 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Lumberjacks led the FCS in passing yards (343 per game) in 2009.
A&M's offense, which sputtered early, used its running game late in the first quarter to get going. Michael carried five times for 47 yards on a 10-play drive, finishing it with a 15-yard touchdown run up the middle.
A&M converted its first third down with 10 minutes left in the half, and on the next play, Johnson hit Ryan Swope for a 15-yard gain to the Lumberjacks' 23. The drive stalled, and Randy Bullock kicked a 32-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, A&M cornerback Dustin Harris intercepted a Moses pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
Stephen F. Austin converted a fourth-and-8 from the A&M 37 on its next series, and Moses threaded a 21-yard TD pass to Cordell Roberson with 4:24 left before halftime to pull within 17-7. Bullock kicked a 27-yard field goal in the last minute to extend the lead to 20-7.
The Aggies marched 69 yards in 15 plays on their initial drive of the second half, and Johnson scored on a 1-yard run. SFA freshman Malcolm Mattox fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Aggies recovered and Johnson threw a 7-yard TD pass to Jeff Fuller with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Michael took a shovel pass from Johnson and ran 46 yards to the SFA 4. He scored on the next play for a 41-7 lead.
Johnson threw another short TD pass to Fuller in the fourth quarter. Fuller has 18 career TD receptions, one shy of the school record set by Bob Long between 1966-68.
Both teams used mostly reserve players for the final 10 minutes.
The schools, separated by only 120 miles, were playing for the first time since 1935. The announced crowd of 81,287 was a Kyle Field record for a season opener.