Coverage: ESPN/ESPN 3D
12:00 PM ET, October 20, 2012
Kyle Field, College Station, TX
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Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown, and the Tigers (No. 6 BCS, No. 6 AP) controlled Texas A&M's dual-threat quarterback to rally from an early deficit and beat the Aggies (No. 18 BCS, No. 20 AP) 24-19 at Kyle Field on Saturday.
A&M (5-2, 2-2) outplayed the Tigers for much of the first half and led 12-0, LSU's largest deficit since the national championship game against Alabama in January. LSU converted two A&M miscues into touchdowns just before halftime, and Boone's diving catch in the end zone with 11 seconds left put the Tigers up 14-12 at the break.
Manziel, the SEC's leader in total offense, completed 29-of-56 passes for 276 yards and also threw three interceptions. He was also the league's leading rusher coming into the game and was held to 27 yards on 17 carries.
"Defense just had to get their feet set and understand what was going on," LSU coach Les Miles said, "get the comfort of the scheme and the habit of throw and how to chase that quarterback. He's a gutsy, tough guy."
The Tigers' offense ranks eighth in the SEC and struggled to produce points in two of three previous conference games. The defense forced three turnovers and notched a safety in a 12-10 win over Auburn last month, and it stepped up again with the offense sputtering Saturday.
Double Trouble for Aggies
Saturday's loss to LSU was the seventh time in the last two seasons that Texas A&M has lost a game it led by at least 10 points, passing Utah State for the most such losses in FBS. Here's a look at the Aggies' blown leads:
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
"They've made life difficult on everybody they've played," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.
A&M started strong, taking a 6-0 lead on Christine Michael's short touchdown run. LSU hadn't given up a first-quarter score in four games.
LSU went three-and-out on its initial series, and the defense looked a step slow again when A&M got the ball back. Manziel got plenty of protection from the Aggies' offensive line and threaded a 21-yard pass to Mike Evans for a first down at the LSU 34. Taylor Bertolet kicked a 32-yard field goal to put A&M up 9-0.
LSU's defense generated better pressure on Manziel as the half continued. The Tigers, meanwhile, sputtered for most of the half against the same Aggies' defense that gave up 615 yards in last week's 59-57 win at Louisiana Tech.
LSU got the kick-start it needed when freshman cornerback Jalen Collins intercepted Manziel at the LSU 39. Ford gained 13 yards on a fourth-and-1, then raced 20 yards down the sideline for the Tigers' first touchdown with 1:49 left before halftime.
"The defense always sets us up," Hill said. "Every game they find a way to keep us in the game."
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Ben Malena fumbled at the A&M 41 with just more than a minute left in the half. The Aggies looked as if they might escape, but Boone's spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch took away their momentum.
"There's really no reason to panic when you get down," Mettenberger said. "You just have to keep grinding away, keep focusing and keep believing. We did that and right before the half we got two quick possessions and two quick touchdowns."
Mettenberger went 5 for 16, and the Tigers mustered only 147 yards in the first half. The Aggies amassed 256 yards in the first half -- 45 more yards than LSU allowed in a 23-21 win against South Carolina last week.
LSU started a drive early in the fourth quarter with eight straight running plays, gaining at least 5 yards on seven of them. Hill ran 18 yards up the middle to the A&M 9 before Jarvis Landry lost yardage on a pass by Mettenberger toward the sideline, and Drew Alleman's 28-yard field goal put LSU up 17-12 with 8:35 remaining.
Trey Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the LSU 16. Linebacker Kevin Minter nearly sacked Manziel on second down, and Manziel's throw to Uzoma Nwachukwu fell incomplete on third down. Bertolet shanked a 33-yard attempt, and LSU regained possession with 7:28 left.
"We needed to get out of there with something," Sumlin said.
LSU junior cornerback Tharold Simon put it away when he intercepted Manziel's pass and returned it to the A&M 46.
"Early, we were reacting to balls thrown, and later we were reacting to intent of the quarterback," Miles said. "We were just making better plays, and there were some adjustments made by our defensive staff in terms of calls and change of personnel."
Hill then burst up the middle and sprinted to the end zone, going over 100 yards for the second straight week. He rushed for a career-high 124 yards against South Carolina last week. LSU is 31-2 under Miles when it has a 100-yard rusher.
Malena finished a quick A&M drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:17 left. But Odell Beckham Jr. cleanly fielded the onside kick, and the Tigers held on from there.
The announced attendance was 87,429, the fifth largest crowd in Kyle Field history. The Tigers and Aggies were meeting for the 51st time -- they played from 1960-75 and from 1986-95 before the series was discontinued. LSU beat Texas A&M 41-24 in the Cotton Bowl after the 2010 season.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Jeremy Hill's 47-yard TD with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter gave LSU the cushion it needed to hold on for the win.
Gameball goes to... LSU's defense. The Tigers gave up 410 yards, but they forced five turnovers that proved to be the Aggies' undoing.
Stat of the game... 27. The Tigers held Aggies' QB Johnny Manziel, who was leading the SEC in rushing, to just 27 yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-16||6-16|
|4th Down Conversions||2-2||0-0|
|TD||10:46||Christine Michael 2 Yd Run (Pat Failed)||0||6|
|FG||05:41||Taylor Bertolet 32 Yd||0||9|
|FG||07:24||Taylor Bertolet 50 Yd||0||12|
|TD||01:49||Michael Ford 20 Yd Run (Drew Alleman Kick)||7||12|
|TD||00:11||Kadron Boone 29 Yd Pass From Zach Mettenberger (Drew Alleman Kick)||14||12|
|FG||08:35||Drew Alleman 28 Yd||17||12|
|TD||03:12||Jeremy Hill 47 Yd Run (Drew Alleman Kick)||24||12|
|TD||01:17||Ben Malena 5 Yd Run (Taylor Bertolet Kick)||24||19|
Johnny Manziel was one of the most exciting and productive players in college football through his 1st 6 games; however, he had never faced anything like LSU's defense. The average ranking of the 5 FBS defenses Texas A&M faced entering play today was 68th; LSU's defense was ranked 2nd.[+]
Johnny Football Meets His Match - This Season
In the 1st half, Zach Mettenberger threw his 1st TD against an SEC team this season. Entering the game Mettenberger had a 6-2 TD-Int ratio against non-SEC teams and 0-2 against SEC teams.
Texas A&M has lost six games in the last two seasons where it led by at least 10 points, tied with Utah State for the most such losses in FBS. The Aggies led LSU 12-0 in the second quarter.[+]
Texas A&M Blown Double-Digit Leads - Last 2 Seasons
Note that all of the halftime leads were by at least a touchdown... Texas A&M Losses When Leading at Halftime Last 2 Seasons Halftime Result 2012 vs Florida Ahead by 7 Lost by 3 2011 vs Texas Ahead by 9 Lost by 2 2011 vs Missouri Ahead by 11 Lost by 7 2011 vs Arkansas Ahead by 18 Lost by 4 2011 vs Oklahoma St Ahead by 17 Lost by 1
LSU allowed nine points and 180 yards to Texas A&M in the first quarter. In their first seven games, the Tigers allowed only 10 points and 191 yards in the first quarter.[+]
LSU Defense in 1st Quarter This Season
ESPN Stats & Information