Ags-Tigers ri­valry sure thing now

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Sports - By Brent Zw­erne­man STAFF WRITER­erne­[email protected]’ twit­­erne­man

COL­LEGE STA­TION — Texas A&M fired its coach a year ago in part to try to make A&M vs. LSU a true ri­valry. One sea­son and seven over­times into the Jimbo Fisher era, that time has ar­rived fol­low­ing an all-time clas­sic at Kyle Field.

A&M de­feated LSU 74-72 in seven over­times Satur­day, ty­ing the NCAA record for long­est game by over­times in his­tory. The game it­self lasted nearly five hours, with loads of drama in each ex­tra frame.

The con­test was de­cided on a two-point con­ver­sion, as quar­ter­back Kellen Mond hooked up with Ken­drick Rogers over the mid­dle from 5 yards out. The two-point con­ver­sion was the re­sult of a 17yard touch­down pass from Mond to Quar­t­ney Davis.

The last play was set up by a pass-in­ter­fer­ence call on LSU’s Greedy Wil­liams, who held the 6-5 Rogers on the two-point con­ver­sion at­tempt. The Ag­gies fol­lowed with a false start on line­man Keaton Suther­land that put them at the LSU 5-yard line, giv­ing Mond what proved to be a lit­tle more space to work with in find­ing Rogers.

On LSU’s fi­nal pos­ses­sion prior to the Ag­gies’ win­ning score, Tigers quar­ter­back Joe Bur­row, worn out but un­fazed, rushed 10 yards for the touch­down. LSU’s two-point con­ver­sion at­tempt was no good.

The last four over­times were set up by some third-over­time the­atrics. LSU worked quickly in that frame, as Bur­row con­nected with Dee An­der­son for a 25-yard touch­down pass on the Tigers’ first play. Bur­row then found Justin Jef­fer­son on the two-point con­ver­sion, putting the Ag­gies against the prover­bial wall on their home field.

A&M coun­tered with an in­cred­i­ble touch­down catch by Rogers, who hauled in the ball as he was fall­ing on his back in the end zone. Mond then found Rogers again for the two-point con­ver­sion, as the game en­tered its fourth hour.

In the first over­time, the Ag­gies squan­dered a chance to score from the 1-yard line, and set­tled on a short field goal Seth Small squeezed just in­side the up­right to tie the ex­tra frame at 34, af­ter LSU had set­tled for a field goal on its open­ing se­ries of over­time.

The Ag­gies forced the over­time on the fi­nal play of reg­u­la­tion, when Davis made a spec­tac­u­lar, leap­ing catch of a 19-yard pass from Mond into the end zone. Small then calmly booted the ex­tra point through the up­rights, and the ri­valry was on.

LSU coach Ed Org­eron even re­ceived a Ga­torade bath from a cou­ple of his play­ers af­ter the Tigers ap­peared to put away the game in reg­u­la­tion with an in­ter­cep­tion, that was then over­turned when re­plays showed Mond’s knee was down fol­low­ing a fum­ble that he re­cov­ered prior to throw­ing the ball.

A&M (8-4, 5-3 SEC) fin­ishes with a win­ning record in league play for the first time sinc 2012, when it was 6-2. LSU is 9-3 and 5-3. The Ag­gies also claim a sec­ond-place fin­ish in the SEC West for the first time.

A&M has tried mak­ing this a ri- valry — hence the two sides meet­ing on Thanks­giv­ing week­end — and a lit­tle spice was added at half­time and with the Ag­gie Band wind­ing down a rous­ing show­ing in its fi­nal per­for­mance at Kyle Field this year.

The pub­lic ad­dress an­nouncer bel­lowed, “Will the LSU player get off the field” — it was more of a firm state­ment than a ques­tion — as a Tigers spe­cial-teams player was try­ing to get a lit­tle work on the north end of the grass. The crowd roared in re­sponse and the player saun­tered off the field as the Ag­gie Band marched his way.

LSU had tried lur­ing Fisher from Florida State dur­ing the 2015 and ’16 sea­sons to no avail, and plenty of Tigers fans would love to see their for­mer of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor un­der Nick Sa­ban back in Ba­ton Rouge, La. Last Jan­uary Fisher, who had re­placed the fired Kevin Sum­lin, tried hir­ing de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dave Aranda from LSU with no luck, although A&M man­aged to get Aranda a big bump in pay to $2.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

Fisher then turned to Mike Elko at Notre Dame, and the de­fense has been might­ily im­proved from re­cent years, in­clud­ing be­ing sec­ond na­tion­ally against the run in al­low­ing 83 yards per game en­ter­ing the week­end. The Ag­gies and Tigers take a much-de­served break and wait for their re­spec­tive bowl an­nounce­ments in about a week.

David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Wide re­ceiver Ken­drick Rogers, right, cel­e­brates with cor­ner­back Charles Oliver af­ter A&M beat LSU in seven OTs.

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