Fa­mil­iar slip with the fall

New coach , but some old habits are hard to break

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - College Football - By Brent Zw­erne­man STAFF WRITER brent.zw­erne­man@chron.com twit­ter.com/brentzw­erne­man

AUBURN, Ala. — Texas A&M de­fen­sive end Tyree John­son trudged across the Jor­dan-Hare Sta­dium grass fol­low­ing a fi­nal whis­tle, clutch­ing his hel­met in his right hand while beat­ing it against his head in dis­be­lief.

Hun­dreds of miles away and across the Sabine River, plenty of A&M fans were do­ing the same thing at the same time, only us­ing walls in­stead of hel­mets.

A&M changed coaches but one thing hasn’t changed for the ag­i­tated Ag­gies and their fans: their an­nual late-fall swoons.

No. 20 A&M blew a 10point lead late in the fourth quar­ter at Auburn, and the Tigers pre­vailed 28-24.

“They got mo­men­tum at home, and that’s what you can’t (al­low) as a road team — you have to fin­ish,” A&M first-year coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We have to learn how to fin­ish. When you get there, you’ve got to put those games away.”

The Ag­gies (5-4, 3-3 SEC) will stash this one away as an­other ex­am­ple of their long­time Novem­ber ills. Un­der pre­vi­ous coach Kevin Sum­lin, A&M typ­i­cally started the sea­son fast and then stum­bled in late Oc­to­ber and on through Novem­ber. From 2013-17 the Ag­gies were 4-11 against SEC foes in Novem­ber, a big rea­son Sum­lin was fired and re­placed with Fisher last Novem­ber.

Over eight sea­sons at Florida State, Fisher was 27-5 in Novem­ber, but he’s now 0-1 in that crit­i­cal month with the Ag­gies, who are find­ing some old habits hard to break.

“We’re hurt­ing, man,” A&M de­fen­sive end Lan­dis Durham said. “We dom­i­nate a whole game like that and we preached all week to fin­ish, and we fell short. You let a team like that hang around, they’re go­ing to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity.”

The Ag­gies were seem­ingly in con­trol at 24-14 with about 10 min­utes re­main­ing in the game when they abruptly let off the gas. Their first mis­step came when fresh­man kicker Seth Small missed a 36-yard field goal that would have put A&M up by 13 with 10:27 left.

Auburn, sud­denly re­vived, marched 71 yards on eight plays and punched the ball into the end zone from a yard out with 5:14 re­main­ing. The Ag­gies still led 24-21, but their fol­low­ing drive again stalled.

This time around, Auburn needed only two plays to grab its first lead since the first half.

“We’ve got to get open at re­ceiver, too, it’s a mix of ev­ery­thing,” Fisher said. “We threw it for 220 yards and ran it for 201 — we had great bal­ance..”

Todd Kirk­land / As­so­ci­ated Press

Auburn’s Daniel Thomas grabs the face mask of Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond dur­ing the sec­ond half.

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