LSU holds off Texas A&M for 23-17 victory

LSU held off a late Texas A&M rally Thursday to pull off a 23-17 victory at Kyle Field to bring an end to the 2014 regular season

COLLEGE STATION, TexasLSU returned to its winning ways on Thanksgiving with a 23-17 victory against Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

The Tigers held off a late charge by the Aggies, who scored 10 unanswered in the fourth quarter to cut the late LSU lead to just three. But the Tigers got a 43-yard field goal with about two minutes left, pushing the lead back to six.

That put the pressure on the LSU defense, and that unit rose to the challenge, holding the Aggies out of the end zone on their final possession. A&M reached midfield after a pair of 12-yard completions by freshman Kyle Allen. But a third-down heave landed in Jalen Collins’ hands to seal the victory.

That defense stood strong Thursday, limiting the A&M offense to only 228 yards of total offense, 110 of that coming on three plays. LSU also dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 22 more minutes than the Aggies.

The LSU offense took advantage of all that extra time on the field, racking up 384 yards on the ground — 146 of that coming from Leonard Fournette and Anthony Jennings adding 119 more. That was the first time since 2010 that an LSU quarterback ran for more than 100 yards in a game, and it also marked a career high for Fournette.

That offensive production was a welcome sight after the Tigers’ struggles against Arkansas. LSU avoids the three-game winning streak to end the regular season, and the Tigers will be riding high into bowl season.

It was actually A&M that struck first Thursday though. After an interception by Jennings ended LSU’s first possession, the Aggies needed only three plays to find the end zone.

After consecutive four-yard carries by Tra Carson, Trey Williams went untouched up the middle for a 41-yard score that gave the Aggies an early 7-0 lead.

But that was all A&M could muster through two quarters. The Aggies finished the first half with only 85 yards of offense, just 23 of that coming through the air. LSU also limited A&M to only eight minutes, 36 seconds of possession through the first two quarters.

Meanwhile, the LSU offense finally seemed to find its stride, scoring on four straight possessions. After forcing an A&M three-and-out midway through the second quarter, the Tigers took over at midfield.

Jennings kept the first play for four yards, then handed off an end-around to Travin Dural that picked up 19. Fournette ran for five then showed absolute brutality on a 22-yard touchdown run, trucking over A&M DB Howard Matthews to reach the end zone.

The next Tiger possession went 73 yards on nine plays for another touchdown, 46 of that coming on consecutive runs by Jennings. The Tigers faced a third-and-four from the A&M 10, but Jennings found a wide-open John Diarse to put LSU in the lead.

The LSU special teams came up with a big play on the ensuing kickoff. Freshman Devin Voorhies forced a Speedy Noil fumble that Duke Riley recovered at the A&M 19 with less than a minute in the half.

The Tigers played it safe and opted for a field goal on second down, which Trent Domingue made from 31 yards out to give LSU a 17-7 lead at the half.

The Tigers received to start the second half, and continued the game of keep away they played with the Aggies. The Tigers went 70 yards on 13 plays, resulting in Domingue’s second made kick of the night, this one a 27-yarder.

A&M did finally get back on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter. After forcing LSU to punt for the first time since the second quarter, the Aggies mounted a 12-play, 52-yard drive. A&M got as close as 10 yards from the end zone, but a negative run, sack and incompletion forced the Aggies to settle for a 34-yard field goal.

A&M cut the lead to only one score after a missed Domingue field goal left the Tigers with an empty drive. Williams busted off a 22-yard run on the first play of the opening possession. A defensive holding penalty on Tre’Davious White six plays later moved the Aggies 29 yards from pay dirt. After a two-yard run, Allen went to Noil, who made an impressive leaping catch over White to haul in the 27-yard touchdown and cut the LSU lead to 20-17.

But that would be the last time A&M scored, and the Tigers managed to escape with the win.

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