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Associated Press
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel celebrates a touchdown with teammate Ben Malena, left, during the fourth quarter Saturday in College Station, Texas.

Manziel fires 3 TDs, yanked after taunt

– Johnny Manziel’s day began late because of the NCAA and ended early because of his mouth.

In between he looked like Johnny Football at his best.

After serving his first-half suspension, the Heisman Trophy winner threw three touchdown passes, scrambled for 19 yards – and, well, acted up – while No. 7 Texas A&M rolled over Rice, 52-31, on Saturday.

Manziel was sitting out because of what the school called an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs.

His first touchdown came on a 23-yard pass to Mike Evans on A&M’s second drive of the half. But just before that, Manziel got into it with a Rice defender, appearing to mimic signing an autograph while getting up from a tackle.

Coach Kevin Sumlin said he didn’t see that exchange, but would have “done something about it” if he did.

Manziel ended his day by getting yanked after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pointing at the scoreboard after a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

“A foolish penalty at the end,” Sumlin said. “No matter what the comments are or what, he’s going to face that every week with the people chirping. That’s not OK, and obviously I addressed that on the sideline right after the play. That’s something he’s going to have to deal with every week.”

Manziel, who was replaced by starter Matt Joeckel on A&M’s last drive, wasn’t made available to the media after the game.

He did address his teammates on Friday night and discussed, according to Sumlin, the “mistakes he’s made.” The meeting was a condition for reinstatement.

“Maybe actions you think just hurt you end up hurting the whole football team,” Sumlin said. “That was the real gist of his message to the team, that everybody’s individual acts affect the team and when that happens it’s not good.”

Manziel had been investigated for allegedly accepting money for autographs from memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension.

Instead, Manziel only had to sit out the first two quarters to start the season. As for the opener, Joeckel threw for 190 yards and a touchdown to help the Aggies to a 28-21 lead at halftime.

Manziel came in on Texas A&M’s first offensive series of the second half. He scrambled for 12 and 7 yards, threw an incompletion and then was sacked and the Aggies capped his first drive with a 44-yard field goal.

Manziel extended A&M’s lead to 38-21 with the touchdown pass to Evans.

Ben Malena grabbed an 18-yard pass from Manziel early in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 45-28.

Rice failed to convert on fourth down on its next drive, and Manziel took advantage two plays later, hitting a wide-open Evans in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown. Then he got a flag.

Offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi, for one, didn’t have a problem with Manziel’s antics. “That’s how he is. He’s a fiery guy and that’s what we love about him,” he said. “He’s not quiet. He’s not shy. He’s going to be loud and aggressive and that’s what makes him Johnny Football. So we love it.”

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