BUT - this is 2012. This team has Johnny Football and Johnny Football doesn't let his team quit.
We ended up having a fairly impromptu game watching party at my folks house that somehow materialized just a few hours prior to kickoff. Sean and his girlfriend, Katie, came as well as my old roommate Pat and his fiance, Heather. I had a meeting out in central Texas that ended just before 5pm so I booked it home and while I was on my way Jennifer ran out and got some good eats for everyone. It turned into a really fun evening.
Things started off well with our opening drive ending on a 40 yard TD run from C-Mike. La Tech went 3-and-out and Johnny orchastrated a 10 play, 66 yard TD drive that ended with a Lakendrik Williams TD reception - the first of his career.
It was on that second drive, however, that Ryan Swope exited the game. He was hit on a blatant helmet-to-helmet hit while he was completely outstretched and exposed. There was a 15-yard penalty, but I still cannot get over the fact that the defender was not ejected from the game. It was cut and dry.
The game started to get out of control as the Ags raced out to that huge 27-0 lead but then the Quinton Patton show began. He's a heckuva WR who really benefited from the additional help he got by an unknown halo rule that was enforced on him all night. Seriously though, he would have put up big numbers even without the flags.
The Bulldogs inched back into the game as the two teams exchanged plays....27-7....then a one play drive when Manziel found Mike Evans for a 72 yard TD pass (34-7)....then a La Tech TD (PAT was blocked and returned for 2 points by Dustin Harris)
The Ags get it down to the 2 yard line and C-Mike tries to stretch the ball out iwth his arm and it gets popped out. So what does Johnny do?
Thankfully, C-Mike was ruled down prior to the fumble so we got the ball back and Johnny ran it in for a 2 yard TD. 46-23
Then from our own 10 yard line, Johnny threw a pick-6 to bring the score to 46-44
Replay would show that La Tech got away with a face mask on Johnny as he was throwing the ball.
So how do we respond? Johnny strikes back on a 3rd-and-6 with a 17 yard TD pass....53-44.
On the next drive the Ags force a punt that was downed at the 1 yard line. Johnny hit Evans again for a 30 yard gain and then 5 plays later Ben Malena takes it to the house on a 40 yard run. Penalty. Holding.
SI.com described the following fairly well (although they did miss the correct yardage on Malena's run)
Question: What does Johnny Football do when a 60-yard touchdown run from Ben Malena is called back for holding? Answer: Wait until it’s third down and 24, then rip off a 72-yard touchdown run your own damn self.Boom.
But wait - La Tech responded with a one play, 62 yard TD pass to Patton. 59-51. Then they recovered an on-side kick and scored 6 plays later!
With 0:38 second left on the clock down by two points (because we missed the PAT following Johnny's long TD run - the second in as many weeks) they went for the two point conversion.....and didn't throw the ball at Quinton Patton. So it was incomplete. PSHEW! Ballgame.
Patton finished the night with 21 receptions for 233 yards and 4 TDs - he was incredible. Mike Evans led the Ags with 137 yards and a TD on 4 receptions.
Johnny finished the night with 576 yards of total offense, which broke the SEC record.....WHICH HE PREVIOUSLY OWNED. Think about that. Johnny has played 6 games at the collegiate level and in 2 of those he accounted for more total yards than ANYONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SEC.
He accounted for 6 TDs (3 passing and 3 rushing) and finished with 395 yards through the air and 181 yards on the ground.
I thought this was the best he has looked all season passing the ball. He made quick decisions and put the ball on the money so receivers didn't have to break stride.
It's funny because I find myself always mentioning that he's a freshman. After the Pick-6 I told my dad, "Remember, he's still a freshman." but two drives later I was yelling, "WOW! He's only a freshman!" It's a really interesting dynamic.
I thought that defensively, Damontre Moore was outstanding (17 tackles and 1.5 sacks) and that Donnie Baggs played really well in place of Steven Jenkins. Beyond them, the defense looked really bad. We missed way to many tackles in space that led to a lot of La Tech's big plays all night long.
Penalties were another big problem - we were flagged 19 times for 165 yards, including 3 penalties on 2 plays that accounted for 45 yards. It was inexcusable.
The best thing about this game is that it made me realize Kevin Sumlin, in an incredibly short period of time, has raised the bar for Texas A&M. We feel upset about a....win....on the road....against a ranked opponent....who was playing in their Super Bowl.....with three starting defenders out (+1 heavy rotational guy).
It was ugly and it scared us but we won and are 5-1 on the season (with three road wins!?!). This coming weekend we will play a HUGE game at home against #6 LSU. Games like this are the reason we wanted to come to the SEC. I'm excited and it's only Tuesday night.