Kendrick Rogers

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No. 19 Texas A&M closes Year 1 of Jimbo era by blasting NC State in Gator Bowl

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Jimbo Fisher is still finding his way in the big, bad SEC, but he’s still got this ACC thing figure out. His 19th-ranked Aggies scored the final 45 points to race past NC State 52-13 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Monday night.

Texas A&M opened the game with a 2-play, 71-yard drive that was all Kellen Mond. Texas A&M’s first snap was a 9-yard pass from Mond to Kendrick Rogers, and its second a 62-yard Mond touchdown run.

NC State (9-4) responded with a 13-0 run, aided greatly by a Mond interception inside A&M territory. His tip passed landed in the arms of Wolfpack defensive lineman Eurndraus Bryant at the Aggies’ 27-yard line, setting up a 9-yard Ryan Finley pass to CJ Riley. Two Christopher Dunn field goals, from 43 and 49 yards, put NC State up front 13-7 at the 10:45 mark of the second quarter, but Texas A&M seized the lead back with a run of its own.

A 28-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger and a 30-yard rush by Trayveon Williams put the ball at the NC State 2, leading to Williams’ 2-yard plunge to put the Aggies back in front.

After an NC State three-and-out, Texas A&M went 72 yards in 11 plays, closing on a third-and-goal 6-yard strike to Rogers with 32 seconds left in the first half. Mond led all players in passing and rushing, connecting on 13-of-23 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and a pick while rushing for 82 yards and another score on four carries.

Finley tried to serve up more points to the Aggies by tossing a late interception, but Seth Small‘s 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first half sailed wide right.

That theme continued in the second half, when Finley was picked by A&M linebacker Tyrel Dodson, who took the ball 78 yards for a touchdown.

Williams put the game away for good by posting consecutive touchdown runs on A&M’s next two possessions, a 17-yarder and then a 93-yard that put the Aggies up 42-13 at the 13:56 mark of the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 19 carries for 236 yards and three touchdowns.

After a 35-yard Small field goal, the Aggies closed the game with a rushing touchdown by 12th man Cullen Gillaspia with 22 seconds left in the game.

Texas A&M out-rushed NC State 401-134, while Finley finished his college career hitting 19 of 32 passes for just 139 yards with a touchdown and two picks.

Fisher’s 9-4 debut matches the second-best showing by Texas A&M in seven seasons of SEC membership. The Gator Bowl’s Dec. 31 kickoff was perhaps fitting for the maroon and white, as they close 2018 with a sign that 2019 will become the Year of Jimbo.

Late surge puts No. 19 Texas A&M ahead of NC State in Gator Bowl

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Kellen Mond bookended the first half with touchdowns to give Texas A&M a 21-13 halftime lead over NC State at the Gator Bowl.

The Aggies opened the game with a 2-play, 71-yard drive that was all Mond. Texas A&M’s first snap was a 9-yard pass from Mond to Kendrick Rogers, and its second a 62-yard Mond touchdown run.

NC State responded with a 13-0 run, aided greatly by a Mond interception inside A&M territory. His tip passed landed in the arms of Wolfpack defensive lineman Eurndraus Bryant at the Aggies’ 27-yard line, setting up a 9-yard Ryan Finley pass to CJ Riley. Two Christopher Dunn field goals, from 43 and 49 yards, put NC State up front 13-7 at the 10:45 mark of the second quarter, but Texas A&M seized the lead back with a run of its own.

A 28-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger and a 30-yard rush by Trayveon Williams put the ball at the NC State 2, leading to Williams’ 2-yard plunge to put the Aggies back in front.

After an NC State three-and-out, Texas A&M went 72 yards in 11 plays, closing on a third-and-goal 6-yard strike to Rogers with 32 seconds left in the first half. Mond led all players in passing and rushing, connecting on 13-of-23 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and a pick while rushing for 82 yards and another score on four carries.

Finley tried to serve up more points to the Aggies by tossing a late interception, but Seth Small‘s 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first half sailed wide right.

NC State will take the ball to open the second half.

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.