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No. 22 Texas A&M outlasts No. 7 LSU in record-tying 7 OTs

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No. 7 LSU thought it had No. 22 Texas A&M beat in regulation — twice. Instead, Kellen Mond found Quartney Davis for a 19-yard touchdown pass as time expired, extending what would become the longest and highest-scoring game in FBS history, as Mond’s 2-point pass to Kendrick Rogers gave Texas A&M a 74-72 win in seven overtimes.

It was the fifth game in FBS history to reach seven overtimes, and the third such SEC game. Mond passed or threw the ball on 69 plays for Texas A&M, posting seven total touchdowns and no turnovers. But before Texas A&M could win the game in the dawn of morning, the Aggies first had to give it away.

Leading 24-17 with the ball early in the fourth quarter, the Aggies appeared primed to beat the Tigers for the first time as SEC West bunk mates. Texas A&M had a 1st-and-10 at the LSU 40 and tossed it to Trayveon Williams, who’d already scored twice in the game. But Williams was wrapped up by LSU linebacker Devin White, who forced the ball free in the process of bringing Williams to the ground. Michael Divinity, Jr. picked up the loose pigskin and raced it 58 yards untouched for a game-tying touchdown.

Energized by the touchdown, LSU forced a three-and-out and then handed over to its offense. Completely dependent on Joe Burrow to that point, the Tigers’ offense knifed 76 yards in four plays, popping off a 46-yard Lanard Fournette run and two Nick Brosette runs of seven and nine yards, setting up a 14-yard scoring strike to Foster Moreau, handing LSU its first lead with 6:41 left in regulation.

The Aggies reached the LSU 37 on the ensuing possession, but Jimbo Fisher elected to go for a 4th-and-5 rather than try a 54-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining, but Mond was stopped short on a gotta-have-it scramble, turning the ball over on downs.

LSU could not expire the remainder of the clock, and punted the ball back to Texas A&M with 1:29 to go and no timeouts. Mond seemingly threw A&M’s last-gasp drive away with an interception to LSU’s Grant Delpit, but instant replay found Mond’s knee touched the ground when he kneeled down to corral an errant snap, handing the ball back to the Aggies at their own 39 with 26 seconds remaining. Completions to Davis and Rogers pushed the ball to the LSU 19 with one second left — including a 4th-and-18 conversion that appeared short of the line to gain to the naked eye but was not reviewed, and after the clock momentarily hit triple zeroes before a final second was added back — allowing Davis to sky over LSU All-American corner Greedy Willaims to snare the game-tying touchdown grab as time expired, pushing the game, one in which Ed Orgeron had already taken a Gatorade bath and the LSU defensive coaches had already bailed on the press box to join in on the victory celebration, into overtime.

LSU took the ball to open the extra session and lost seven yards on its offensive possession, but Cole Tracy bailed the offense out by a knocking in a 50-yard field goal. Texas A&M had no such problem in the bottom of the first overtime, pushing forward to a 1st-and-goal from the LSU 1. But two straight runs lost yardage and Mond’s third down pass was incomplete, forcing a 25-yard Seth Small field goal to force double overtime.

Williams rushed for 22 yards to open the second overtime, and Mond capitalized this time with a 3-yard keeper, forcing LSU to score a touchdown to extend the game — which LSU got, barely. On a 4th-and-2 from the Texas A&M 3, Brosette secured the first down and the touchdown, pushing the game to triple overtime.

Taking the ball to start the third frame, LSU did not flirt with disaster, instead hitting Dee Anderson for a touchdown on its first play, then connecting with Justin Jefferson on the mandated 2-point play. Texas A&M answered with its own 25-yard scoring heave, hauled in by Rogers despite pass interference, then hit Rogers for the 2-point try to push the game to a fourth overtime.

After achieving a 1st-and-goal in the top of the fourth overtime, Texas A&M again stalled near the goal line, forcing Small’s second field goal of overtime. Knowing a touchdown would win the game, LSU gained a 1st-and-goal on its first play but also stalled as three straight running plays could not reach the goal line, forcing Tracy’s second field goal of overtime, this one from 26 yards.

Texas A&M again pushed forward to a 1st-and-goal but again stalled. Facing a 4th-and-the-game from the LSU 6, Mond scrambled and again hit Rogers for the game-saving touchdown, but fired incomplete on the 2-point try, pushing the game to a sixth overtime at 58-all.

The Aggies wasted no time in the top of the sixth overtime, hitting Jace Sternberger for a 25-yard touchdown. Mond yet again found Rogers for the 2-point try. Burrow hit Jefferson for a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-6 to put LSU at the 2, then carried in for his fifth touchdown of the night on his 65th rush or pass of the game, then found Anderson for the 2-point try to push the game to an FBS record-tying seventh overtime.

Burrow’s hot streak continued when his fade route drew a pass interference penalty on the first play of the seventh overtime, then rushed in untouched from seven yards out for his sixth touchdown of the game. Anderson caught a deflected 2-point pass but was hauled down short of the goal line.

Mond hit Davis for the tying touchdown, then found — who else? — Rogers for the winning 2-point conversion, concluding the longest and highest-scoring game in FBS history.

The win snapped Texas A&M’s seven-game losing streak to its would-be rivals to the east, including an 0-6 mark in SEC play, and concludes Fisher’s first season at 8-4 overall and in second place in the SEC West.

LSU, with hopes of moving to 10-2 and surpassing No. 5 Georgia to appear in the Sugar Bowl, now falls to 9-3 and will likely fall out of the New Year’s Six altogether.

The Tigers opened the fifth overtime with some creativity they did not show in the fourth, as running back Clyde Edwards-Elaire hit fullback Tory Carter for a 13-yard touchdown pass, but Burrow’s 2-point pass sailed wide of Jefferson.

After the teams combined for three three-and-outs to open the game, the Aggies opened the scoring by rumbling 95 yards in 10 plays, punctuated with a 10-yard Williams run run.

LSU immediately answered with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 22-yard Burrow run, but Texas A&M immediately answered that answer with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown march of its own, this one capped by a 10-yard scoring strike from Mond to Sternberger.

LSU ended the chain when Tracy missed a 49-yard field goal at the 5:30 mark of the second quarter.

Texas A&M closed the half with its third straight scoring drive, this one a 53-yard drive culminating in a 33-yard Small field goal. Tracy redeemed his 49-yard miss with a 47-yard make on the final play of the half.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the second half, LSU pieced together its best drive of the night, a 15-play, 90-yard marathon that consumed more than six minutes and ended in a 7-yard strike to Jefferson.

LSU forced another Texas A&M punt and was poised to take the ball in a tie game for the first time of the night, but Jonathan Giles muffed the punt and handed it right back to the Aggies at the LSU 29. Texas A&M capitalized with Williams’s second touchdown of the game, this one a 1-yard plunge.

 

Illini DE who suffered severe spinal injury speaking, eating and sitting up

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There is some positive news when it comes to a distressing situation that developed over the weekend.

Illinois true junior defensive end Bobby Roundtree sustained what was described as a severe spinal cord injury in a swimming accident Saturday and underwent surgery a day later.  According to the Associated Press, Roundtree is progressing well following the surgery and, while he remains hospitalized, is speaking, eating and sitting up.

Several members of the Illini football program, including Lovie Smith, traveled to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Fla., to be with the injured player.

“Bobby Roundtree is exactly what you want in a student-athlete,” a statement from the head coach began. “He is a hard worker, dependable, a dedicated student and a leader.

“This is devastating to his teammates, the entire Fighting Illini family and his family and friends. We will give Bobby all the support possible as he battles through his recovery. Please keep Bobby and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Roundtree, who played his high school football in Largo, Fla., has started 20 games the past two seasons since coming to the Illini as a three-star member of their 2017 recruiting class.  This past season, the 6-5, 245-pound end led the Illini in tackles for loss with 12.5 and pass breakups, and was second in sacks with 7.5 and quarterback hits with four.

For that, the media named Roundtree honorable mention All-Big Ten for the 2018 season.

Iowa State officially adds Arkansas’ leading receiver

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Matt Campbell has officially added an experienced and productive piece to his Iowa State passing attack.

La'Michael Pettway revealed via Twitter in mid-January that he would be transferring from Arkansas; nearly four months later, he used the same social media vehicle to deliver the message that he would be continuing his collegiate playing career at Iowa State.  Monday, it was confirmed by the football program that the wide receiver has officially enrolled in classes at the university.

As a graduate transfer, Pettway will be eligible to play immediately for the Cyclones in 2019.

“I think the biggest thing he brings is he gives a veteran presence to this receiver group,” the head coach said according to the Des Moines Register. “[T]he opportunity to get a guy that’s done it at a very high level against really high-end competition can just add some veteran-ness to a group where there’s a lot of youth.”

This past season, Pettway led the Razorbacks in receiving yards with 499 and receptions with 30.  His four receiving touchdowns were good for second on the team.

Prior to 2018, Pettway had totaled 102 yards and a touchdown on seven catches.

NFL Network to air 10 Conference USA games each fall

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The NFL Network and Conference USA struck a deal that will see the league air 10 C-USA games, starting this fall.

“While exploring new media options for football, NFL Network stood out as an excellent opportunity for national exposure,” C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said. “We look forward to showcasing our conference through their tremendous platform and reach.”

The contract runs for four years, and will see NFL Network air one game a week for 10 weeks.

“We are excited to showcase the next generation of NFL athletes to our fans on a weekly basis,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media. “Our fans crave live football, and partnering with Conference USA – a conference which boasts several Hall of Fame players – provides us with an excellent opportunity to do so.”

Specific game announcements will be named at a later date. It’s an important move for C-USA, who has seen more and more of its games moved off of TV and onto streaming platforms, such as ESPN Plus, Stadium and Facebook. The league also has a TV deal with CBS Sports Network.

June Jones resurfaces as XFL Houston head coach

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The last we saw of June Jones, at least in the continental United States, he was mailing it in as SMU’s head coach. After leading the Ponies to four straight bowl trips from 2009-12, Jones watched SMU slip to 5-7 in 2013, then walked out the door after losing the first two games of the 2014 campaign by a combined score of 88-6. (That SMU team would finish the ’14 season at 1-11.) It seemed the then-61-year-old had given football all he had to give, at least on a competitive level.

Jones took 2015 off, then spent 2016 in a semi-retirement gig as the offensive coordinator at a high school in Hawaii.

But Jones must have really missed football, because he gave up the Hawaiian life to spend the past two seasons as head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and now he’s back stateside as the head coach of the XFL’s Houston franchise.

“I’ve spent a few years coaching in Houston, and having a chance to return to be a head coach in the XFL is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” said Jones. “I had a really great time coaching in the CFL, but this new fresh opportunity to build a team from the ground up is extremely rare in this game, and I’m looking forward to working with Brian Cooper and our coaches to give football fans in Houston a team that’s truly exciting to watch and worthy of their support.”

He was formally announced in a press conference at the University of Houston, and the as-yet-unnamed club will play its games at the Cougars’ TDECU Stadium.

It will be the fourth different professional league Jones has coached in, following stints in the USFL and NFL, in addition to six-plus seasons at SMU and eight at Hawaii.

The eighth of eight head coaches to join the league, Jones will join a roster that includes Bob Stoops and former Michigan offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.