The fifth-ranked Texas A&M returned to wet and cold Kyle Field Saturday for its first game in three weeks as the Aggies topped the LSU Tigers, 20-7.
A&M had its last two games against Tennessee and Ole Miss delayed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Last season's matchup between the Aggies and the Tigers saw A&M fall 50-7 to LSU, who would go on to be the national champions, but the Aggies' defense didn’t make it easy for LSU this time as the Tigers struggled to put any points on the board. The Aggies earned their fifth straight win of the season making them 6-1.
A&M was the first to put points on the board with a 41-yard field goal attempt by junior Seth Small in the first quarter. Small also scored another field goal toward the end of the first half to give A&M a 13-0 lead at halftime.
“The first kick was important and I thought the kick before the half was really critical too,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “That was a big drive going down there again scoring before the half which we’ve done a good job on this year. That was a big kick. Seth has had a really nice year and done a nice job.”
The Aggies faced a challenge in the rainy weather, but sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller led the Aggies with 27 carries, 141 rushing yards and a single touchdown where he rushed for 52 yards.
“It just shows you how mature and how we know how to win in situations where we aren’t playing good, or today wasn’t our best day, but we know how to get the job done,” Spiller said. “That’s just leadership on the team and everybody else coming together as one.”
With 4:36 left on the clock in the third quarter LSU quarterback TJ Finley attempted a pass, but it was intercepted and returned for a 15-yard touchdown by senior linebacker Buddy Johnson. This marked Johnson's second career touchdown with the first being a fumble returned for 62 yards in 2019 against Ole Miss.
“It’s exciting,” said Johnson. “It just goes back to being able to make a play for your team like that it’s huge. It’s not only huge momentum for defense but the team. I was fired up and ready to get into the endzone as soon as I caught the ball. I knew where I was going, I knew where my target was, my destination, and I am telling you there was no other answer than a touchdown for me.”
The A&M defense held off LSU and prevented the Tigers from scoring until the end of the fourth quarter where LSU’s wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. caught a pass for a three-yard touchdown. A&M's Johnson and sophomore defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal lead the defense with a combined 13 tackles and three assisted tackles.
“We preached all week about getting the pressure and being able to do our job extremely well, so that just caused us to be able to give both quarterbacks pressure and just keep it going,” Leal said.
Inconsistency on the Aggies' offense such as incomplete passes and unsuccessful blocks that led to Mond taking his third sack of the season were a common trend. Fisher said there’s a learning curve with room for improvement, but what’s important is the Aggies found a way to win.
“We didn’t play well, didn’t move them well, didn’t get hats on hats, didn’t stay consistent, didn’t stay on blocks,” Fisher said. “They’re trying hard play. I have to do a better job of putting them in situations where they could be successful. I got to help them out a little bit to, but they play hard we just weren’t consistent enough to do what we needed to do in those situations, and even on offense we had a couple big drops. You couldn’t get momentum on offense, you couldn’t get a rhythm, you could get things going. I always say this you really notice when upfront doesn’t go as you want.”
A&M will travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium in Alabama to face off against No. 22 Auburn Tigers Dec. 5.