COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown, and the sixth-ranked Tigers rallied from an early deficit to beat Texas A&M (No. 18 BCS, No. 20 AP) 24-19 at Kyle Field on Saturday.
Michael Ford also had a touchdown run and Zach Mettenberger threw a TD pass to Kadron Boone for the Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference), who scored 21 points off four Texas A&M turnovers.
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. But the Aggies gave away two costly turnovers just before halftime, and Boone's diving catch in the end zone with 11 seconds left put LSU up 14-12 at the break. Hill finished off A&M with a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Johnny Manziel, A&M's dual-threat redshirt freshman quarterback, completed 29 of 56 passes for 276 yards, but threw three interceptions and was sacked three times. He was the SEC's leading rusher coming into the game and was held to 27 yards on 17 carries.
A&M started strong, though, moving the ball easily on its opening drive and 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 wore on. 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.
The LSU offense 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.
Ben Malena fumbled at the A&M 41 with just over a minute left in the half. The Aggies looked as if they might escape, but Boone made a diving, over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone with 11 seconds remaining.
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 against South Carolina last week.
LSU started a drive early in the fourth quarter with eight straight running plays, gaining at least five 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.
LSU junior cornerback Tharold Simon put it away when he intercepted Manziel's pass and returned it to the A&M 46. 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.
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.
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 each other 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.
Texas A&M Notes
About the Game
• The 24-19 loss to the No. 6 LSU Tigers broke a five-game winning streak by the No. 18 Aggies.
• LSU was the highest-ranked team to visit Kyle Field since No. 3 Texas in 2009 (L, 49-39).
• It was the first victory for LSU in College Station since 1987 when the Tigers handed Jackie Sherrill’s Aggies a 17-3 loss.
• Today’s crowd of 87,429 was the fifth-largest crowd in Kyle Field history, and marked the 11th straight sellout dating back to the 2010 Nebraska game that set the stadium record with a crowd of 90,079.
• The Aggies generated 410 total yards, including 276 passing yards, which were both season highs against the LSU defense. The previous high yardage output allowed was 291 by Towson, and top passing total was 177 by South Carolina.
• The Aggies were the first team to produce 400 total yards against LSU since West Virginia had 533 yards against the Tigers on Sept. 24, 2011. A&M were the first SEC team to have 400-plus yards against the Tigers since Arkansas had 464 yards on Nov. 27, 2011.
• The Aggies haven’t generated a takeaway in the last two games since a two-takeaway game against Ole Miss.
• Redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel attempted a career-high 56 passes and connected on 29 of them for 276 yards. He rushed for 23 yards to bring his total yards to 299. All four totals were season-highs against the LSU defense. Manziel had neither a passing or rushing score for the first time this season.
• Junior DE Damontre Moore had another strong game with a team-high 10 tackles, including a sack (loss of -2) and two total tackles for loss (of -4). He also broke up a pass.
• For the season, Moore has 9.5 QB sacks and 17 tackles for loss, both team highs. He also leads the team in tackles with 62 stops. Only two defensive linemen have led the Aggies in tackles in the last 40 yards -- Ray Childress in 1983 and Sam Adam in 1993.
• Moore now has 22.5 career QB sacks, which ranks No. 8 in A&M history. He trails Aaron Wallace (42), Jacob Green (37), John Roper (36), Von Miller (33), Marcus Buckley (29), Ray Childress (25) and Roylin Bradley (24).
• The Aggies scored first for the 12th straight game with a touchdown on their initial drive of the game against LSU. The last time A&M didn’t score first was last year’s Missouri game.
• Redshirt freshman PK Taylor Bertolet’s 50-yard field goal in the first half was his second three-pointer from 50 yards and beyond. The last Aggie with multiple 50-yard field goals was Terrence Kitchens, who booted four 50-plus yarders in 1999.
• Senior punter Ryan Epperson suffered his first touchback of the season on his 23rd boot of 2012.
Epperson finished the day with four punts for an average of 37.8 yards with two boots downed inside the 20. Epperson has 11 “coffin corner” punts in 2012.
• True freshman Trey Williams had a career-high 76-yard kickoff return midway through the four quarter. It was the longest kickoff return by an Aggie since Coryell Judie had an 84-yard TD return against Baylor in 2010.
• Just a week after being knocked out of the Louisiana Tech game will an illegal hit, senior WR Ryan Swope had a game-high efforts of 10 catches and 81 yards against the Tigers.
Captains, 12th Man
• Game captains for the Aggies were: senior center Patrick Lewis, senior safety Steven Terrell, senior linebacker Sean Porter and senior wide receiver Ryan Swope. LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. A&M received and defended the north goal.
• Making his third 2012 start and 15th of his career at 12th Man was defensive back C.J. Jones, a senior from Klein Forest HS in Houston.
Texas A&M Quotes
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.”
On how much of the loss was youth and how much was LSU’s talent
“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.”
Texas A&M Quotes
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.”