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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M topples Top-10 Tigers in Thanksgiving Trist

Freshman+WR+Evan+Stewart+%281%29+gets+tackled+by+LSU+Jay+Ward+%285%29+during+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+LSU+at+Kyle+Field+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+26%2C+2022.+%28Cameron+Johnson%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Freshman WR Evan Stewart (1) gets tackled by LSU Jay Ward (5) during A&M’s game against LSU at Kyle Field on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Cameron Johnson/The Battalion)

In a modern-day David vs Goliath, Texas A&M took on No. 6 LSU in a Thanksgiving trist on Saturday, Nov. 26. A&M, the David of the scenario, entered its last game of the season with a 4-7 record following a win against Massachusetts last week to break its six-game losing streak, while LSU secured the top of the SEC West with a 9-2 overall record.
The cymbals of the LSU Tiger Marching Band crashed and the drums of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band boomed. 12th Man towels waved and shouts of “Geaux Tigers” filled the air as the ready-for-play whistle was blown, starting both teams’ final game of the 2022 regular season.
A&M won the coin toss, choosing to defer to the second half and put LSU on offense first. A 15-yard pass by junior Tiger quarterback Jayden Daniels to sophomore wide receiver Jack Bech caught the A&M secondary off guardian, giving them an early first down, but junior defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson proved to be the concrete in the Aggies’ brick wall, keeping junior running back Noah Cain from running through the A&M defensive line and force LSU off the field on its opening drive of the game.
Now with the ball in the hands of freshman quarterback Conner Weigman and the return of junior running back Devon Achane and freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart to the field, A&M, and coach Jimbo Fisher, wasted no time establishing a quick pace of offense. Weigman and company set up a screen to get the ball to freshman tight end Donovan Green and move the Aggies down the field. Achane marked his return with a 8-yard rush for an Aggie first down. Freshman linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. took advantage of a hole in the maroon and white offensive line and pressured Weigman into a no-gain play, but on the next play Stewart snagged a catch out of the air with a Tiger defenseman all over him in coverage and made it third-and-1. Sophomore wide receiver Moose Muhammad III entered the play with a 4-yard catch to round out all the major maroon and white play makers entrance into the game. Achane continued to write his return to the field, accounting for nine touches on the 15 plays in the drive and dodging a Tiger tackle to hustle it in for a touchdown and put the Aggies on the board first.
“It was very important [to come back for the last game],” Achane said. “It wasn’t just important to me, it was for the seniors, not just for myself. That’s my team, my teammates. Me coming back was just me wanting to give my seniors a great last game at Kyle Field.”
The LSU offensive line stuck to the A&M defensive like glue, providing Daniels with plenty of time for a play that ultimately went nowhere, but a pass interference on junior defensive back Antonio Johnson moved the Tigers to a first down and renewed their fight. Back-to-back run plays by LSU from Daniels and senior running back John Emery Jr. got the first down. A collective gasp exited both the maroon and white and purple and gold crowds as LSU fumbled the ball but ultimately recovered it to keep possession. A pass from Daniels to junior wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was jammed short of the line to gain by defensive backs junior Jaylon Jones and sophomore Jardin Gilbert forcing the Tigers to third-and-2 and ending the first quarter.
Opening strong, Daniels ran through the Aggie defense to bring LSU into the red zone and into scoring position. A rush attempt by Emory that was originally called short, but was reviewed and determined a touchdown tied up the score. Back on offense, A&M showed of their skills in the air with two pass plays to Muhammad for just as many first downs.
Three run plays with Achane poked holes in the Tiger defense, moving them down the field and within 20 yards of the endzone. Weigman took to the ground, chased down by Perkins, grabbed the first down but left Perkins injured giving both teams a time out. Perkins was able to walk off the field and the Aggies began their fight for 6 more points. However, incomplete passes and a gaping offensive line forced A&M to settle for 3.
With time ticking down in the first half, Daniels once again took advantage of a wide-spread Aggie secondary for a 22-yard pass to Boutte. A&M managed to force two third downs on the drive, the Tigers completed the first with a short pass to sophomore wide receiver Malik Nabers. On the second, a dropped pass by junior wide receiver Kyren Lacy on a play eerily similar to their game winning call against Alabama, resulted in a different outcome forcing LSU to settle for 3 as well and tie the score once more.
Achane showed off his ability to find the open field with a 29-yard run to open A&M’s drive. However, the Tiger defense shut down two quarterback run attempts to force a third-and-12, but third time’s the charm, Weigman picked up a first down using his legs. A 13-yard pass to Stewart and a 17-yard run from Achane extended the maroon and white drive and put them within 5 yards for a scoring position. With 1:16 left on the clock, the Tigers forced the Aggies to a third-and-goal before calling a timeout. When both teams returned to play, the LSU defense came rushing strong forcing Weigman to make an awkward throw that landed into the hands of Green in the endzone and tagging a roughing the passer along with them.
With a little over a minute left in the half, the Tigers scrambled to cut into the Aggies’ lead as A&M scrambled to stop them. The back-and-forth of incomplete passes, missed tackles and aggressive plays culminated to naught as LSU met fourth-and-7 and punted to allow A&M to kneel out the clock.
“We gotta stay ahead of the chains,” Fisher told ESPN when asked what A&M needed to continue offensively in the second half. “When they can pass rush, they have [a] great down field pass rush game, we’ve gotta stay ahead of the chains. Stay physical [and] make sure our third downs are manageable.”
The Fightin’ Farmers opened the second half on offense and quickly found some struggles they did not face in the first half — a third-and-long. Pressure on Weigman forced junior punter Nik Constantinou to come onto the field for the first time all night.
The Tigers however found their footing with Daniels rushing for a first down then taking advantage of the Aggies’ missed tackles to keep the drive alive. Cain rushed up the middle and through an Aggie brigade to grab another first down for the Tigers. A&M brought LSU to third-and-1 but Emery forced his way through for another first down. Three A&M defenders fell back to spot Daniels on the next play, allowing Emory to run in a touchdown and tally the third tie of the night.
The Tiger defense continued to control the third quarter forcing another three-and-out for the Aggies and stealing all the momentum. However, A&M persisted, fighting LSU to a third-and-1. The maroon and white crowd echoed as Daniels took the snap, and was quickly met. Sophomore linebacker Edgerrin Cooper forced the ball out allowing for senior defensive back Demani Richardson to pick it up and tally his second scoop-and-score of the season and return the lead to the Aggies.
“I [saw] the ball on the ground,” Richardson said. “When a ball’s on the ground and it’s in my hands, I’ve gotta go score.”
The Tigers returned to offense but quickly discovered the momentum was no longer on their side. Multiple second down conversions kept the drive alive for the purple and gold but a holding call stripped them of a first down and left them unable to convert on a third-and-16.
After two rushing plays to garner a first down by Achane, he stepped off the field to hand the torch to sophomore running back Amari Daniels for a play. Amari grabbed a first down and remained on the field to grab 28 yards on three carries. Entering the fourth quarter, A&M showed they could maintain the momentum from the third with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Muhammad for a one handed catch.
The Fightin’ Farmers continued to keep their foot on the gas, with the defense forcing a third-and-15 after a sack from freshman defensive lineman Walter Nolen. Jayden attempted to use his legs to secure the first down, but an offensive holding call and sophomore defensive back Tyreek Chappell kept him from reaching the sticks. LSU fans held their breath as Jayden went down after the play, unable to get up and was walked off the field, replaced by redshirt freshman quarterback Garret Nussmeier on third-and-25.
During Muhammad’s punt return, A&M received a penalty for an illegal blindside block, only their second penalty of the game. Continuing his standout performance in the fourth quarter, Muhammad fought for a 39-yard catch from Weigman to move the sticks into Tiger territory. The sticks moved once more with an aggressive run from Achane, who was met behind the line of scrimmage, managed to gain 17 yards and ultimately, another touchdown.
LSU did not let the 21-point gap phase them as they moved down the field in a 1:25 drive to add 6 more to the board. Instead of grabbing the extra-point, the Tigers attempted and failed a 2-point attempt which ended in Jayden on the ground in pain once again.
A quick three-and-out from the Aggies put the Tigers back on the field with a strong position from an awkward punt from Constantinou. Jayden returned to the signal caller position, moving right back into form with a first-down pass to Cain. Two defensive holdings moved the purple and gold further down the field, but a false start and a few incomplete passes left the Tigers at third-and-15. With pressure getting closer, Jayden’s pass was broken up by Chappell. A deep pass to the corner was caught by senior wide receiver Jaray Jenkins but knocked out of bounds by Chappell in coverage again, and called an incomplete pass, putting the ball back in maroon and white hands.
As a spotlight in what could be his last game at Kyle Field, Achane rushed for another 24 yards and first down to keep the clock winding. As time expired, the 12th Man began to rush the field and the Aggie Warhem blared from stadium speakers as A&M officially toppled the No. 6 Tigers, 38-23.
“[I’m] happy for our seniors and our players,” Fisher said. “They’ve overcome a lot. A tough situation to keep fighting and doing the things they had to do … Very proud for these seniors to go out, their last game ever out in Kyle Field, and a big win.”
With the Aggies out of bowl contention with their 5-7 finish, they will not return to the field until spring of 2023 for the annual Maroon & White spring game. LSU will be back to play No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game next weekend, but their playoff opening has been shut with the loss. It remains to be seen which Aggies will return for the 2023 season, whether due to transfers or draft contention, but fans, players and coaches alike can at least be content to end on a high note.

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