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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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Turnover plagued Aggies fall to LSU, 45-21 in regular season finale

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Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

The A&M-LSU game was Nick Starkel’s third straight 200-yard passing game.

BATON ROUGE, La. – The first three minutes of the Saturday night matchup between LSU and Texas A&M in Death Valley would foreshadow how the rest of the game would unfold.
Texas A&M lost its regular season finale 45-21 to LSU in a game where the Aggies would turn the ball over four times.
On the first play of the game, senior Armani Watts recovered a fumble on the Tigers side of the field. A&M was deep in LSU territory and was looking to draw first blood.
However, on the ensuing drive, as redshirt freshman Nick Starkel looked for senior Damion Ratley, LSU’s Andreaz Wiliams jumped in front of Ratley to even out the turnover battle.
The Aggies, who had a single turnover in the last three games, had two in the first 10 minutes of the game. After the Tigers were held to a field goal following the Starkel interception, senior running back Keith Ford fumbled the ball, which would be recovered by the Tiger defense.
Following the game, A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said there was a series of misfortunate plays that contributed to the loss.
“Just about everything, you can’t go on the road and turn the ball over,” Sumlin said. “We get a turnover at the beginning of the game and then give it right back… Ultimately turnovers and not being able to stop them. It was a series of things, it just wasn’t one thing.”
Right before halftime, the Aggies stringed together a drive that resulted in a touchdown. The biggest play of the drive came on fourth-and-3 when Starkel connected with freshman Camron Buckley to extend the Aggies’ drive. Starkel then found junior Christian Kirk for a 31-yard pass that set up sophomore running back Trayveon Williams for a 2-yard touchdown.
As ‘Power’ by Kanye West played throughout Tiger Stadium for A&M’s opening drive of the second half, the Aggies kept the momentum they gained in the tail end of the second quarter. After slipping past LSU defenders, Ratley was wide open for a 45-yard touchdown pass from Starkel to make the score 20-14
However, that momentum would not last after the turnover struggles continued for A&M. Kirk, who had seven receptions for 78 yards and touchdown, said despite showing signs of brilliance, the team was unable to shake off the turnover problems which played a major role in the game.
“We hit a spot there in the game when we were clicking on all cylinders, and one thing we emphasized as an offense was protecting the ball, whether it’s fumble, interceptions or possessions,” Kirk said. “We got to protect the ball and we didn’t do that in the most crucial parts of the game and that came to bite us in the end.”
Sumlin said the coaching staff made adjustments at halftime that they felt would help the team find success, and for the first part of the second half they thought they had accomplished that — until the turnovers continued to plague the Aggies.
“Keeping it within six points gave us the opportunity, but we had a critical back to back turnover and then a drive by them to get up by 14 and things kind of fell apart from there,” Sumlin said.
Starkel, who made his third straight start since returning from injury, went 16-for-30 with 227 yards passing, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Kirk said the team was confident they had the right pieces in place to help A&M get over the hurdle and finally defeat the Tigers.
“Disappointment, frustration, obviously not the way you wanted to go out. It just felt like we had such a good game plan,” Kirk said. “We had a great week of practice, energy was there. But there was so many plays we could’ve made. If things would have one way, the outcome of the game would be so much more different. You can’t dwell on that, you just got to move on and keep your head up.”
Redshirt junior and special teams captain Cullen Gillaspia said despite the loss, the A&M still has the bowl game to prepare for and move past the loss.
“I thought that we came out and fought hard, it just didn’t turn out that we were the ones that were winning today,” Gillaspia said. “It happens. It’s a game. Got to come back back out and get ready for the bowl game and get another win.”
Texas A&M will find out Sunday, Dec. 3 what bowl they will travel to and who they will face.

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