COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- While its offense had a tough time shaking off the cobwebs for an 11 a.m. kickoff, the defense forced five turnovers and No. 6 LSU overcame a 12-0 deficit to defeat No. 20 Texas A&M, 24-19.
Making its first trip to Kyle Field since 1995, LSU (7-1, 3-1 SEC) scored 24-straight points - 21 off turnovers - to silence the crowd and earn its first win in College Station since 1987 (17-3). It was also the Tigers' largest comeback at an opponent's stadium since 2004 (at Florida, 24-21).
On his birthday, LSU running back Jeremy Hill carried for more than 100 yards in the second half, as the freshman finished with career-best 127 yards and another dagger in his opponent's heart in the fourth quarter. Last week, Hill's 50-yard fourth-quarter score gave LSU a victory over No. 3 South Carolina. This week, a 47-yard touchdown run with 3:12 remaining that put LSU ahead 24-12.
The Tigers have an open date before taking on No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT on CBS.
Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) had the Tigers on their heels in the opening quarter but couldn't hold off LSU's fierce defensive front. The Aggies scored the game's first 12 points but didn't score again until they were down 12 with 77 seconds remaining.
On a windy gameday, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was 11-of-29 passing for 97 yards with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Kadron Boone that game the Tigers a lead just before halftime. Mettenberger had eight passes broken up or batted down by defenders but did not commit a turnover.
Boone had a team-high 49 yards on four catches while Odell Beckham Jr. added four receptions for 35 yards.
Defensively, linebacker Kevin Minter led the Tigers in tackles for the fifth time in eight games. Minter had 12 tackles including one sack with an interception, and two quarterback hurries. Safety Eric Reid added 11 tackles while Craig Loston had nine and Lamin Barrow had eight with a fumble recovery.
Texas A&M outgained LSU, 410-316, but turnovers doomed the Aggies.
Manziel, a redshirt freshman, completed 29-of-56 passes for 276 yards but accounted for three turnovers with interceptions. He was sacked three times and hurried four more by the LSU defense that focused on containing the mobile signal caller. Manziel added 27 net yards rushing on 17 carries.
Ben Malena led the Aggies with 82 yards on 12 carries. Wide receiver Ryan Swope had a game-high 10 catches and 81 yards, while Mike Evans had six grabs for 76 yards.
LSU won the toss and deferred its decision until the second half. The Tigers kicked away from the open end of the stadium with a south breeze that blew the ball off the tee.
After a touchback, Manziel led the Aggies down the field 75 yards in 12 plays to give the Aggies a lead for a 12-straight game. Manziel completed 4-of-6 passes on the drive and Christine Michael capped the drive with a second-down touchdown run from the 2.
The PAT hit the left upright and Texas A&M led 6-0.
LSU's first drive included a pair of runs by Ware and a third-down pass that was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Brad Wing entered and sailed a punt over the head of the Aggies return man and bounded into the endzone.
Manziel's fast paced offense returned with passes of 9, 10 and 21 yards to the LSU 34. After an injury timeout, a touchdown catch and run was called back by a personal foul. Another 21-yard pass to Evans put Texas A&M in the redzone at the 19, but the drive stalled when LSU brought pressure against the freshman quarterback. Taylor Bertolet made a 32-yard field goal to put Texas A&M ahead 10-0 with 5:41 remaining in the first quarter.
After the 12-play, 63-yard drive, Texas A&M had a 161-3 advantage in total offense.
LSU gained three first downs and crossed midfield on a perfect throw from Mettenberger to Beckham Jr. for 17 yards. But, two incomplete passes and a sack led to another Wing punt from the LSU 49.
The LSU defense took advantage of three pass breakups and a sack to force the Aggies into their first punt of the game. The 40-yarder from Ryan Epperson was downed at the LSU 6 to put the Tigers in the shadow of its endzone.
Another Tigers three-and-out changed field position in Texas A&M's favor when Wing's 42 yard punt rolled out of bounds at the Aggies 46.
Manziel, who came under increased pressure as the half wore on, managed just one first down and was unable to overcome a false start in LSU territory.
After a touchback on the punt, Mettenberger was hit as he threw on second down and threw behind Russell Shepard on third down. The Tigers moved to 0-for-4 on third down and punted again. Wing's 55-yard effort into the wind pushed Texas A&M back to its 25.
Swope beat cornerback Tharold Simon on a stop-and-go for 27 yards to the LSU 46, and an 11-yard pass to McNeal put Texas A&M in field goal range. A tackle-for-loss by LSU linebacker Deion Jones helped the defense hold off further damage, and Bertolet made a 50-yard field goal with a helping wind to extend the Aggie advantage to 12-0 with 7:24 remaining in the half.
Though LSU gained a first down with a defensive holding penalty, Mettenberger was sacked by untouched linebacker Sean Porter and the Tigers punted from their 36.
On the ensuing possession, the once swift-moving Aggie offense started feeling the heat from LSU's defense once again. On third-and-6 from his 35, Manziel's pass sailed over the head of a receiver - who was also called for offensive pass interference - and was intercepted by LSU cornerback Jalen Collins.
The LSU freshman's first pickoff was returned four yards to the LSU 42, where the Tigers offense earned a first down after pass interference was called on the Aggies in their territory. Rather than attempt a 50-yard field goal into the breeze on fourth-and-1 at the 33, Ware went under center to take the snap, faked a run to the left and pitched to Michael Ford for a 13-yard gain around the end.
Ford took another toss from Mettenberger around the right end for a 20-yard touchdown. With 1:49 remaining in the half, LSU cut the advantage to 12-7.
Rather than sit on the ball and run out the clock, Texas A&M went into its two-minute offense. After five-straight passes, Manziel handed off to Melena who was hit by LSU safety Ronald Martin and fumbled. Barrow came up with the loose ball, putting the Tigers in business at the Aggies 41.
Again on the outside of field goal range, the Tigers converted on fourth-and-2 from the 32 with a 3-yard run by Hill. After a pass into the endzone fell just out of Jarvis Landry's reach, Mettenberger put a little more air under the ball and lofted a perfect pass to Boone who had slipped behind two defenders for the 29-yard touchdown grab.
With its second-straight touchdown after a turnover, LSU took a 14-12 lead with 11 seconds remaining in the half.
LSU took the ball first and started a string of three-straight punts to open the second half. Wing's 56-yard punt gave Texas A&M possession at its 21 where Malena ran for 16 yards on a third-and-2 draw.
The Tigers defense again took advantage of a Texas A&M mistake when Manziel's pass deflected off Evans' shoulder pad and was intercepted by Minter at the LSU 36. After a 4-yard return, LSU took over at its 40.
LSU converted its first third down of the game, a 9-yard pass to James Wright on third-and-7, but couldn't get a second in Aggie territory. After a 5-yard penalty, Drew Alleman's 54-yard field goal attempt sailed to the right to end the drive.
Texas A&M again gained one first down before consecutive incomplete passes to Swope led to a punt. Beckham Jr. was flagged for delay of game after a fair catch signal, and the Tigers started at their 6.
The negative field position was too much to overcome and Wing punted 37 yards to the LSU 48. A 13-yard pass from Manziel to Swope moved the Aggies into field goal range at the LSU 35. But, a 4-yard tackle for loss by LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson forced a 52-yard field goal attempt that had the distance but was missed to the right.
The miss allowed LSU's offense to get back in gear. LSU wore down the Texas A&M defensive line with its running attack, but two "Wildcat" runs with Ware under center netted 1 yard and the Tigers settled for a 28-yard field goal by Alleman.
The Tigers led 17-12 with 8:35 remaining after the 12-play, 55-yard drive.
A 76-yard kickoff return to the LSU 16 by Texas A&M's Trey Williams shifted the momentum back to the Aggies mometarily, but Manziel was heckled by the Tiger defense and unable to gain a first down. Bertolet compounded the problem by missing another field goal to the right, this one from 31 yards.
Two series later, an interception by Simon led to Hill's 47-yard touchdown run on LSU's first play from scrimmage to put LSU ahead by 12, 24-12.
Texas A&M rallied to score with 77 seconds remaining but was unable to get an onside kick. The Aggies forced a punt, but were left with only 11 seconds. A series of lateral passes ended with a fumble that was recovered by LSU's Barkevious Mingo.
The announced crowd of 87,429 was the fifth-largest crowd in Kyle Field history.
No. 6 LSU 24 AT No. 18 TEXAS A&M 19
LSU Football Postgame Quotes
Saturday, October 20, 2012 - College Station, Texas
HEAD COACH LES MILES
On the game overall
"I'd like to congratulate Coach Sumlin and the Aggies; they played awfully hard. You can see when we play here that it is a special place. It's loud and it's an advantage for the home team. They played awfully cohesive for a first year coach. My team came on the road and got behind. But, we felt like it was only a matter of time before we got on track. I like how our quarterback managed the game. We threw some deep balls today and we need to hit those. We can win on the road in a hostile environment. A win on the road in the conference is good. Texas A&M definitely has an SEC environment already."
JUNIOR SAFETY ERIC REED
On the Aggie offense
"People say Texas A&M is a finesse team, but I disagree. We saw Johnny Manziel on film, and we saw him do some things that we thought we could stop. We give him credit; he knows how to work the pocket and he does it well. We felt like we could get some pressure on him with our three linemen. The game is all about momentum. We got some key turnovers and put some points on the board."
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK ZACH METTENBERGER
On the Aggie defense
"I wasn't surprised with how tight they played us. Before this game we hadn't really taken many shots downfield. We run the ball really well, so everyone is going to try to stop the run against us. Next time we have to capitalize on the deep balls. The wind was a big factor today, especially on the deep balls. Johnny Manziel is a very good quarterback. If he learns to minimize his mistakes he is going to be a very good quarterback in this league. We have to get better this off week and prepare for Alabama."
JUNIOR DEFENSIVE END BARKEVIOUS MINGO
On A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel
"Texas A&M came out passing a lot. Quick throws, 3-step drops, they were trying to get the ball out of Manziel's hands quick. They moved the chains and got a quick start. It wasn't fun chasing Manziel all day. We did a good job of it, but it wasn't fun. They had more yards than us. They passed for more and ran for more, but our offense did what they needed to."
TEXAS A&M HEAD COACH KEVIN SUMLIN
On what LSU's defense did to make the game difficult for Johnny Manziel
"They've made life difficult on everybody that they've played. They're a talented football team. They continue to play. They have depth in the secondary. They have guys that can rotate. They can pass rush and have guys who can play man coverage. I think the story of the game is obviously how we responded between the points off of turnovers. That's a two-way street. You turn it over three times and regardless of the situation, you win as a team, you lose as a team. We've got a disappointed bunch in there - a team that played very, very hard. We came up short and you have to give them credit. That's a big, physical, talented team."
On Taylor Bertolet's rough day
"He's a young guy. He's got a powerful leg. He kicked off well, it's just one of those things. He's still our guy. He'll continue to get better. We've just got to keep working with him. You can see the strength in his leg. I'm sure he knows. I talked to him. He's very, very disappointed. He's going to get better. He's made some big kicks for us this year and he's going to bounce back."
On the effectiveness of the LSU running game
"I thought that we let one get out of the gate right there at the end of the fourth quarter. Other than that, I thought our defense played pretty well. They were able to move the ball, with the exception of that last touchdown. I thought we contained it pretty well and got off of the field enough on third downs. We didn't force any turnovers, and that's a credit to them too. You're playing a top-10 team in the country and you don't get any turnovers, and we turn over three times, it's difficult to win against a team like that."
On whether LSU's defense was what was expected
"They mixed it up just like they said they would. They didn't play one static defense the whole game. They mixed it up and changed some things. They're a good defense. There's a reason why nobody else has moved the ball against them very well. We've got talented players. It can take some chances with some of the guys they've got on the field in man coverage. They did a good job of changing the looks and the pressure. You've got to be able to continue to move the ball and show some patience, which we did. It's difficult when the turnover battle is what it is."
"I think it was all of those things. At this point in the year we've been in two games like that, really. I'll have to go back and watch the video and see. Like I said, effort was not the problem. As long as our guys continue to give effort like that, we're going to be able to win in any game. I think it should have been today. The hump we've got to get over is execution and being consistent. It's no different than what I said after game one. Against a very talented team, the margin for error is really, really small. We made too many today. You've got to give them credit too. They've got guys that were flying with balls. You've got to give them credit. That's a very well-coached and talented team."
JUNIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMAN DAMONTRE MOORE
On the mood in locker room
"It was depressing, nobody is happy after a loss. Everybody is depressed but there is a 24-hour rule and we will watch the film, learn from our mistakes, and move on and get better from here."
On matching LSU's offensive line
"They had a tremendously talented offensive line. Probably the most talented offensive line we have played here. They were talented athletically and they had the mean streak that you want your offensive line to have. Second half we had some injuries that we were fighting through. Not taking anything away from them, but they just seized the moment and capitalized on our misfortune."
On LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger
"I felt like we were rattling him and had pressure on the pocket. Later on they made their adjustments. "
SENIOR LINEBACKER JONATHAN STEWART
On letting this game slip away after a lead
"That game was a real tough loss. Defensively we beat ourselves. Regardless of how many turnovers we had, whenever their defense gets a turnover we need to match that on defense and we didn't do that. Their defense made more plays today and they played better. That was ultimately the result of the game."
On whether the team got worn down
"No, not necessarily. We did not. They have a good offensive coordinator over there. For that one drive, he was having success. Once we got back on the sidelines we were able to stop them. During that one drive he was having a lot of success and fortunately we were able to stop them with a field goal."
On trailing at the half trailing after leading for so long
"That part is not what you expect but regardless of how many turnovers we have as a team, we don't care defensively. We feel that if our offense is able to get us a field goal, we're good enough on defense to stop anybody. We gave them too many points. We gave them too many explosives. We didn't make them drop balls and earn every single point they got today."
SENIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN PATRICK LEWIS
On the 24-hour rule
"This one hurts a lot. It would have been nice to have a win here not only for myself but for our team and for Kyle Field. It's a win that we've needed for a long time now but we've got to get over it. We will learn from the mistakes we made today and continue to get better."
On matching LSU's team
"I think we matched it pretty well. They have a physical defense, that's what they are known for, a big time defense that gets the ball back to their offense and give them a lot of scoring opportunity. We had a lot of turnovers and their offense generated points, they are a disciplined team. Unfortunately we fell victim to that today by giving them the ball back and they capitalized on it."
On running up the middle
"Our job is to make whatever it is work. We would have liked to run the ball more, and we did, they gave us a lot of opportunities; we just have to make the most of it when they do."
On correcting turnovers
"We just have to try not to make those mistakes in ball games. They happen, sometimes the ball may not bounce your way, they might strip the ball, or the quarterback might make the wrong read. I don't think there is any formula to stop turnovers. You just have to do your best to not let it happen. We just have to do a better job of not turning the ball over if we are going to keep winning games. "
JUNIOR RUNNING BACK BEN MALENA
On missed opportunity
"When you play against an especially talented defense you really just have to focus on execution. Some plays we didn't execute the way we wanted to, credit to them too, they made some plays also. We left some plays out there with some penalties, some turnovers, and didn't execute a couple plays right."
On the loss in general
"Just forget about it and move on. Just get in there study the film and know what you didn't do right and correct it for the Auburn Tigers next week. "
On moving on
"It's pretty tough, but that what the 24-hour rule is for. They were a great team, we left some opportunities on the field. Hats off to defense, I think they played really well tonight. We are just going to watch film and get ready for next week."
On running the ball more
"We just take advantage of what the defense gives us. It's a system offense; we are going to take what you give to us. They are a great defense and they made some adjustments and we made some adjustments also."
SENIOR WIDE RECEIVER UZOMA NWACHUKWU
On today's performance
"We just didn't do a good job of attacking what they gave us and adjusting to some things. Also, if you turn over the ball that many times, you're going to get beaten. We've just got to go back and focus in on the little things and we should do that on Monday. It goes back to that we are an attack offense and we can't take our foot off the gas pedal. When we have them down and we have good momentum, we have to put the ball in the end zone. We can't forget about what got us good field position. We just have to focus on the little things and make sure we put the ball in the end zone."
On comparison to top teams like Florida and LSU
"I think we are very close. We are a team that, defensively, they have excitement going. They are jumping around and they are running to the ball. We have a great defense. Offensively, this guy is doing it for us. We have to focus on the little things that make great teams: turnovers, penalties and things like that. We have to harp on that if we want to that league status."
On 76-yard kick return that resulted in no points
"It was kind of deflating for us. We had the ball in great field position. We couldn't ask anything more for out of our kick return team, except to put the ball in the end zone and that is our job. In that situation, we just have to focus in and really hone in on the little details. The red zone is that type of feel where it only matters in that moment. Whatever you did to get there doesn't matter. Only the next series matters. We just have to hone in on what we have to do to fix things and we should do that Monday."