LSU ‘should have done better’ in critical loss at Texas A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Riding a five-game winning streak and assured of playing in next week’s Southeastern Conference opener, No. 5 LSU he just had to take care of the poor performance Texas A&M to keep his College Football Playoff hopes alive.
instead of that, Devon Achan had a career-best 215 yards rushing with two touchdowns on Saturday, and Texas A&M stunned LSU 38-23, all but eliminating the Tigers from CFP contention.
“They did some incredible things and I don’t want this loss to take away from what they accomplished this year at all,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “This was not a step back. This was a bump in the road and they will learn from it.”
Conner Weigman threw two TD passes for the Aggies (5-7, 2-6 SEC) and Demani Richardson responded by fumbling for a score. The score was tied at 17 in the third quarter before A&M scored 21 straight points.
“It shows what type of team we can be,” Achane said. “I’m just showing that it wasn’t the season we wanted, but we came out to beat the top- team.”
LSU (9-3, 6-2, No. 5 CFP) has already clinched the SEC West and secured a chance to play for the conference title against undefeated No. 1 Georgia, and a win could have put the Tigers in the playoffs. But with three losses, even beating the Bulldogs probably won’t be enough.
“We just weren’t at our best today,” Kelly said. “I wish I could give you a reason why we weren’t the best, but we just weren’t and we had to be better.”
Kelly said he doesn’t believe his team overlooked the Aggies.
“We just needed more juice, more fire and we seemed to lack that today and that’s my responsibility,” Kelly said.
Kelly made her debut with a loss to Florida State in New Orleans and some inconsistency ensued. But the Tigers have turned a corner after the loss at home Tennessee and entered the CFP contest with four straight SEC wins Florida, Be Miss, Alabama and Arkansas.
“This is tough. They’ve played great all year. They’ve done unbelievable things,” Kelly said when asked what his message was to the Tigers.
The Aggies, who opened the season ranked No. 6 but will not qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2008, had a strong finish to their disappointing season. They won back-to-back games for the first time since September after beating UMass last week.
“There’s no secret to this,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Just go do your job. There’s no magic formula.”
Achane ran for 119 yards and a score before halftime to help A&M take a 17-10 lead.
“Their best players played at their level today,” Kelly said. “We didn’t match up. Our best players needed to make great plays and we failed in that area.”
LSU opened the second half with a nine-play, 71-yard drive, including a 19-yard run John Emery Jr. tie the score at 17.
But Edgerrin Cooper a hit Jayden Daniels and forced a fumble on LSU’s next drive. Richardson caught and ran 37 yards for his second touchdown of the season to put A&M on top 24-17 with about seven minutes left in the third quarter.
“I think there was some momentum there,” Kelly said. “I don’t know if we ever really recovered from that.”
The Aggies extended their lead to 31-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter when Moose Muhammad III reeled in a 21-yard one-handed TD catch.
A 10-yard run by Achane, who returned after missing two games with a foot injury, made it 38-17 with about eight minutes left.
A crowd of more than 93,000 fans packed Kyle Field, and some began rushing onto the field with about 17 seconds left, causing a delay. It was a big difference from last week, when most of the crowd emptied out after half-time on a wet and cold day.
Those fans and several thousand more spilled onto the field as time expired.
Daniels threw for 189 yards and ran for 84 more and Emery had three touchdowns for the Tigers, who lost their first game since falling 40-13 at home to Tennessee on Oct. 8.
Emery cut the lead to 38-23 with a 3-yard run with about 6½ minutes left, but the 2-point conversion fell short.
Daniels is almost associated with Look at Jenkins in the end zone on fourth down on LSU’s next possession, but Tyreek Chappell knocked the ball out of Jenkins’ hands. The Aggies then ran out of clock.
With their playoff chances almost non-existent, Kelly’s Tigers will need to put this one behind them quickly if they hope to compete with the Bulldogs in Atlanta.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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