Rapid Reaction: No. 5 Texas A&M and its smothering defense takes down LSU 20-7
The last time LSU visited Texas A&M history was made.
It was two years ago and the Aggies prevailed 74-72 in 7 overtimes.
The game Saturday night at Kyle Field was nothing like that – except Texas A&M prevailed again, this time by a more normal 20-7 margin.
The No. 5 Aggies didn’t provide the College Football Playoff selection committee with the style points they were hoping to, but they improved to 6-1 by smothering the 3-4 Tigers offense.
Isaiah Spiller provided just enough rushing offense, including a 52-yard touchdown, to overcome an off night by Kellon Mond, and the A&M defense chipped in a touchdown of its own.
The Tigers went back an forth between freshman quarterbacks TJ Finley and Max Johnson in the absence of injured Myles Brennan, but neither could generate any consistent offense as the Aggies dominated the line of scrimmage and denied any semblance of a running game.
Texas A&M couldn’t play at Tennessee two weeks ago or against Ole Miss last week because of COVID issues. The layoff and a steady rain that began about an hour before kickoff might have contributed to Aggies’ sub-par offensive performance, but so did improved play by LSU’s much-maligned defense.
The Aggies led 13-0 at halftime and both offenses continued to struggle in the second half.
But Buddy Johnson produced the only points of the quarter when he intercepted Finley and returned the football 15 yards to increase the lead to 20-0.
Johnson led LSU on a scoring drive with under a minute left in the game to avoid the shutout.
After that play, Johnson replaced Finley, who had been benched after committing three turnovers during a 48-11 loss to Auburn last month, for the second time in the game.
It didn’t matter much.
The Tigers had opportunities in the first half, but A&M kept them from scoring.
LSU reached the A&M 35 on its first possession, but Tyrion Davis-Price was stopped for no gain on fourth and 1.
The Aggies scored first on Seth Small’s 41-yard field goal and Spiller added his touchdown that increased the lead to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Finley lasted 3 possessions before the Tigers turned to Johnson, who had mopped up a 52-24 victory against South Carolina in addition to the appearance against Auburn.
Johnson managed just 1 first down in 2 possessions before A&M threatened to score again. But on fourth and 1 at the LSU 6, Damone Clark knock the ball loose from Mond on a sneak and Spiller recovered for a 9-yard loss.
Finley returned on the ensuing possession and immediately hit Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 54-yard completion.
On the next play, Finley and Kayshon Boutte connected on what was ruled a 31-yard touchdown pass, but the play was ruled incomplete on replay because Boutte didn’t have control of the ball until after he stepped out of bounds.
On the following play, Finley was intercepted by Jaylon Jones.
The Tigers drove to a first down at the Aggies 16 later in the quarter, but stalled there and Cade York missed a 34-yard field goal.
Mond drove A&M into scoring range in the final seconds and Small made a 40-yard field goal as time expired for a 13-0 halftime lead.