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|Aggies roll over Tech, 48-16|
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Louisiana Tech battled toe-to-toe against Big 12 foe Texas A&M through two quarters Saturday night, but in what felt like a blink of an eye, a sequence of four plays - including one untimed down - proved to be the separator.
With Tech trailing 14-10 and driving inside the Aggies red zone with less than 30 seconds to play in the second quarter, the proverbial tide turned - into a mini-tidal wave as Texas A&M road the momentum into a 48-16 win at Kyle Field before 77,579 fans.
A 44-yard touchdown pass on an untimed, final play of the half and a 67-yard Barry Sanders-like scamper on the second play of the third quarter allowed Texas A&M to push a four-point lead out to 28-10 in a matter of less than 90 seconds off the game clock.
Although the Bulldogs kept fighting over the final 28 minutes, they never recovered as Tech fell to 1-1 on the season while the Aggies improved to 2-0.
"We played pretty hard in the first half," said Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "We made a ton of mistakes but we had a chance to win the game and they got a little separation [at the end of the first half]. We just made a lot of mistakes, too many mistakes. This is a tough atmosphere to play in. It is loud and we had some guys who didn't handle the crowd especially well early in the game. Once we got settled in, we were able to make some plays and try and get competitive in the game. Just too many mistakes. We turned it over five times and it is hard to win when you turn it over five times."
The Aggies win didn't come easily early. With less than a minute to play in the opening half, the Bulldogs were driving for a potential half-time lead.
With Tech facing a first down and 10 on the Texas A&M 16-yard line late in the half, Cameron fumbled when sacked from behind and the Aggies recovered on their own 24-yard line with only 18 seconds to play.
Instead of being satisfied with a four-point halftime lead, Johnson scrambled 17 yards to the 41-yard line with nine seconds to play. On the next play, Johnson threw what appeared to be a half-ending interception to Tech linebacker Adrien Cole who returned it to the Aggies 34 as time ran out.
However, a personal foul penalty on Tech safety CJ Broades on a hit to the head of the intended receiver on the interception gave A&M the ball back on the Bulldogs 44-yard line. It also gave the Aggies an untimed down.
On the next play, Johnson rolled left and heaved a duck high into the air which was caught by Aggies Uzoma Nwachukwu amidst four Tech defenders for a 44-yard score and a 21-10 Texas A&M lead.
"Their guy just made a play," Dykes said. "That's the thing we're not doing right now. We're not making plays. That's the difference in these types of football games. We had a chance twice to go score and get ourselves back in the game. We turned it over and we weren't making plays."
As the two teams trotted off the field, Tech head coach Sonny Dykes stood at midfield glaring at officials with his hat in his hands. It gave the Aggies the momentum and they wouldn't ever surrender it.
On just the second play following intermission, Aggies running back Christine Michael appeared to be corralled five yards behind the line of scrimmage but somehow kept his balance, spun out of the crowd and dashed 67 yards down the A&M sideline before being hauled down by Josh Victorian inside the Bulldogs 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Johnson found Jeff Fuller for a 3-yard toss in the back left corner of the endzone for a 28-10 lead.
After the next Aggies possession led to a 40-yard field goal by Randy Bullock to push the advantage to 31-10, Tech answered with an impressive five-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard scoring strike from junior college transfer Tarik Hakmi to tight end Eric Harper with 6:12 to play in the third quarter. It was Harper's first career touchdown reception and Hakmi's first career scoring pass.
Matt Nelson's extra point was wide and the lead was 31-16.
However, that was as close as the Bulldogs would get as the Aggies scored on a 54-yard punt return by Dustin Harris with 2:40 to play in the third quarter to push the advantage to 38-16. It was the first punt return for a score by the Aggies since 1998 and the first allowed by the Bulldogs since 2008.
A&M then opened up the fourth quarter with another scoring drive, this one capped by a Johnson 1-yard pass to Nwachukwu and a 45-16 lead. Johnson ended the night completing 25-of-38 passes for 349 yards and three scores.
A 22-yard field goal by Bullock at the 5:44 mark of the fourth quarter ended the night's scoring for both teams as Tech fell to 0-10 all-time against the Aggies.
In a first half that was dominated by giveaways - the two teams combined for eight turnovers - Tech had opportunity after opportunity to take the lead after 30 minutes. However, two fumbles in the final three minutes of the half inside the red zone and an untimely penalty on what appeared to be the final play of the half cost the Bulldogs.
Tech took an early lead on a 37-yard field goal by Nelson at the 2:58 mark of the first quarter, capping a seven play drive that covered 38 yards.
After A&M answered with two touchdowns - the first on a 3-yard run by Cyrus Gray and the second on a 10-yard pass from Johnson to Ryan Tannehill - Tech recovered a muffed punt on the Aggies one-yard line.
Following three straight runs by Hakmi netted zero yards, Tech called back-to-back timeouts before sending the offensive unit back out on the field. On fourth and goal, Hakmi faked a handoff to Lennon Creer and followed the bruising running back off of right tackle for the score.
Hakmi, who platooned with Cameron all night, completed 6-of-8 passes for 93 yards and one passing touchdown while rushing 10 times for 10 yards and one score. Cameron was 15-of-31 for 115 yards and two interceptions while rushing for 21 yards.
Nine different players caught a pass for Tech, led by Harper (4-56, 1 TD) and Taulib Ikharo (4-52 yards).
Solomon Randle led the Tech defense with a career-high 10 tackles followed by Cole (9 tackles) and Broades (8 tackles). Matt Broha was credited with 1.5 sacks.
Tech returns to action next weekend with its home opener against Navy at 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium. For ticket information, log onto www.latechsports.com, email email@example.com or call 318-257-3631.
(Report courtesy latechsports.com)