Oct. 14, 2012
SHREVEPORT, LA - No. 22-ranked Texas A&M scored the first 27 points of the game and then withstood a furious comeback to hang on and defeat No. 23 Louisiana Tech 59-57 before 40,453 fans at Independence Stadium late Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (5-1) had two different opportunities to tie the game on two-point plays in the final quarter, including one with 38 seconds to play in the game, but the Aggies (5-1) escaped Shreveport with the win, snapping LA Tech's 12-game regular season winning streak.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel proved as good as advertised as the freshman passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another 181 yards and three more scores, including a 72-yard run with only 2:04 to play that gave the Aggies a 59-44 lead.
"He is a very special player," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "We knew coming in he was going to be hard to stop. We had a hard time adjusting to his speed early in the game. I thought our guys got more settled in and made some adjustments and made some plays in the second half. We just couldn't stop him in critical situations. That's what good players do, they make plays."
Manziel wasn't the only signal caller that brought their A-game as Bulldog senior Colby Cameron completed 44-of-59 passes for a career-high 448 yards and five touchdowns without throwing an interception. Cameron tossed two touchdowns - a 62-yarder to Quinton Patton and a 13-yard toss to Ray Holley - in the final two minutes of the game to give the Bulldogs one final shot to tie it.
However, following the touchdown to Holley, Cameron's two-point conversion pass to RP Stuart was high and the Aggies sealed the victory by recovering the onside kick and running out the clock.
"They kept playing," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. "Both teams made some plays. You have to give (Louisiana Tech) credit. They average those points for a reason. They are well coached and have players. It took our best effort to get out of here with a win.
"That's a good football team. We needed to get out of here and get back home. We were lucky to get out of here. It was a great game."
"I thought our guys played incredibly hard," Dykes said. "I think any time a team faces the adversity we faced and battles, it is a credit to them. We didn't start the game out well, but our guys kept battling and battling and battling and had a chance to win the football game."
Cameron had plenty of help from his No. 1 target in carving up a Texas A&M defense that entered the game ranked among the nation's best. Patton tied the LA Tech single game record with 21 receptions for a career-high 232 yards and a career-high four touchdown receptions, covering 11, 2, 5 and 62 yards.
The 21 receptions tied Troy Edwards mark set against Nebraska in the season opener in 1998 in a 56-27 loss to the Cornhuskers.
Tech's 57 points were the most since the Bulldogs scored 61 in a victory over Mississippi Valley State in 2000 and it marked the fifth time in six games that LA Tech has eclipsed the 50-point plateau.
Texas A&M started the game off strong, taking a 21-0 lead after one quarter thanks to the arm and legs of Manziel, who found Lekendrick Williams for a 20-yard score and also hit paydirt on a 15-yard run.
After a pair of field goals by the Aggies to open the second quarter and push the lead to 27-0, Tech struck on an 11-yard pass from Cameron to Patton with 5:32 to play in the quarter. However, the Bulldogs momentum was short-lived as Manziel hit Mike Evans on a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the following possession to push the lead back out to 34-7.
Kenneth Dixon, who finished the night with 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Tech, scored on a six-yard run with 2:55 to play in the second quarter. However, Matt Nelson's extra point was blocked and returned the length of the field by Dustin Harris for two points as the Aggies led 39-13. Nelson ended the half with a 43-yard field goal as Tech trailed 39-16 at the break.
The second half was almost all LA Tech as the Bulldogs scored 41 points and amassed 365 yards of offense following intermission - Tech totaled 615 for the game.
While the Bulldog offense was finding its rhythm, the LA Tech defense played much better, including forcing the only turnover of the game when Shakeil Lucas intercepted Manziel and returned it five yards for a touchdown, making the score 46-44 with 11:59 to play in the game. After Tech's game-tying two-point conversion attempt failed, Texas A&M scored two touchdowns to push the lead back out to 59-44 with just over two minutes to play before Cameron directed the final two scoring drives to give the Bulldogs a chance to tie.
As a team, LA Tech amassed 37 first downs and 615 total yards of offense, including 450 passing and 165 rushing. Texas A&M recorded 27 first downs and 678 total yards of offense - 395 passing and 283 rushing.
Tech returns to action Saturday when the Bulldogs host Idaho at 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium in its Western Athletic Conference opener.