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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

How a Texas A&M blowout turned into UCLA’s miraculous comeback

Kevin+Sumlin+walks+off+the+field+with+a+loss+after+being+up+34+points+late+in+the+third+quarter.
Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

Kevin Sumlin walks off the field with a loss after being up 34 points late in the third quarter.

It is amazing how college football can turn on a dime, and Texas A&M witnessed it first-hand Sunday night at the Rose Bowl.
The stands began to clear as Daniel LaCamera nailed a 48-yard field goal with 4:08 to go in the third quarter. No Aggie in their wildest dreams could imagine the maroon and white folding a five score lead.
“It was a great feeling,” running back Trayveon Williams said of going up 34 points. “We had a lot of energy, a lot hype on the sideline.”
Apparently UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen did.
“No one ever lost hope, but at a certain point you’re not really looking at the scoreboard anymore,” Rosen said. “We just had to put our head down and play football.”
The Bruins began to march down the field, and just two minutes later punched it in for six.
One score, no worries. The Aggies would begin to worry, however, when their offensive machine began to shut down.
Kellen Mond had to replace Nick Starkel at quarterback, who went down with an apparent leg injury. Power back Keith Ford left the game as well. The Bruins meanwhile adjusted their defense, pulling a high safety into the box to add another defender to counter the dominant A&M run game.
“In the last two weeks, we haven’t practiced one single snap of what we call our base defense because they’re a 3-4 wide receiver team,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora said. “At halftime, we put our base defense back in without a single snap of practicing base defense.”
UCLA’s shift worked, and A&M started to slow.
On defense, A&M soon lost starting safety Donovan Wilson, who played a multitude of positions based on the package, forcing the Aggies to shake up their secondary.
“I’d say the up-tempo, not getting lined up, not executing our plays,” safety Armani Watts said of the secondary’s second half struggles. “They’re a great offense, Josh Rosen moved the ball well.”
The Bruins moved to a max protection look on their O-Line, allowing Rosen to work in a more established pocket.
“[UCLA] started keeping guys in which really kind of helped,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “They were able to get the ball off a little bit quicker. Rosen made some great throws.
The move clearly worked.
Rosen rattled off four fourth-quarter touchdown drives, going 19-for-26 and 292 yards.
He faked a spike with the clock stopped and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds remaining.
“Breaking in a new offense took a little bit,” Rosen said, who was playing his first game under new UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. “It’s a unique way to start off with a new OC and a new relationship, but I’m happy how it went.”
The Aggies missed several key chances to stop the Bruins as well. A&M dropped two potential interceptions, including one that went straight through the hands of Deshawn Capers-Smith and into the hands of UCLA’s Darren Andrews, who walked in for a touchdown.
Braden Mann missed a 43-yard field goal attempt that was tipped and landed short with 4:41 in the game.
“We were an inch away from losing that game probably ten times,” Rosen said.
A&M’s loss on Sunday seemed improbable and afterwards felt unexplainable.
“We’re not making excuses for anything,” Sumlin said. “We didn’t get it done.”

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