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Texas A&M loses to No. 19 LSU for seventh straight time

November 26, 2017 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin left Tiger Stadium on Saturday as the Aggies’ head coach, but he has yet to beat the LSU Tigers, part of the reason speculation has him on his way out.

No. 19 LSU ran roughshod over A&M for a the second straight year in a 45-21 Southeastern victory.

Tiger Stadium lived up to its Death Valley billing as LSU (9-3, 6-2) scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half to pull away in the regular-season finale. LSU leaned on explosive plays, also taking advantage of mistakes by A&M (7-5, 4-4), which lost to the Tigers for the seventh straight time, the last six under Sumlin since the Aggies joined the SEC.

A&M had four turnovers, three of them interceptions by redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Starkel. The most critical came after the Aggies cut the Tigers’ lead to 20-14 and got the ball back. The interception by LSU cornerback Donte Jackson ignited the late surge by the Tigers, who ended up with 601 yards of offense.

“You can’t go on the road and turn the ball over,” Sumlin said. “We had back-to-back turnovers and then a drive by them to get up by 14, and things kind of feel part from there.”

LSU scored 13 points off A&M turnovers.

With the loss, and only a bowl game left, the best A&M can finish is 8-5, the record it has had in the last three seasons.

A&M, after a slow start against LSU, was able to change thing in the final two minutes of the first half with a score. Then to start the second half within 20-14 on a 45-yard touchdown catch by senior Damion Ratley.

The Aggie defense forced its first three-and-out, but Jackson intercepted at the Aggie 39. LSU scored in seven plays on Derrius Guice’s 1-yard run. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire set up the touchdown on a 27-yard swing pass to the 1.

A&M answered that touchdown on a 10-yard catch by junior Christian Kirk, the 10th play of a 75-yard drive.

The Tigers, though, needed only five plays to push the lead back to 34-21 on John David Moore’s 10-yard touchdown reception. LSU reached the 10 on a 33-yard catch by Russell Gage from Danny Etling, who was roughed on the play, adding 14-yard penalty.

LSU put the game away on its next possession, needing only another five plays to score, thanks to Darrel Williams’ 77-yard run. The touchdown came on a 6-yard catch by DJ Chark with LSU adding the two-point conversion with 13:18 left to make it 42-21.

LSU rolled up those 601 yards on 87 plays. Last year, the Tigers had 622 yards in a 54-39 victory. Etling led the way by completing 19 of 30 for 347 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Guice, who had 285 yards rushing last season, had 127 yards on 28 carries. Williams added 106 on 12. Chark had five catches for 86 yards.

A&M was limited to 282 yards and 57 plays. Starkel who was 16-of-30 passing for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Kirk, who many believe will declare for the NFL draft, had seven catches for 78 yards.

A&M’s offense finally showed some life on its last possession of the first half. Kirk got things going with a 9-yard catch with a 15-yard penalty against LSU added. Freshman receiver Camron Buckley, draped by a defender, had a 6-yard fourth-down catch to move the chains. Starkel on the next play dropped a pass for 31 yards into Kirk who was sandwiched by John Battle and Donte Jackson. Trayveon Williams scored from the 2 with 21 seconds left.

LSU dominated the first 28 minutes for a 20-0 lead, missing two field goals.

The Tigers fumbled on their first snap, but managed field goals on its next possessions. LSU made it 13-0 on Russell Gage’s 11-yard touchdown catch from Etling. Chark started the possession by catching a 49-yard rainbow.

LSU stretched its lead to 20-0 on a 1-yard run by Williams with 7:29 left in the half. Williams on the drive turned a short catch over the middle into 56 yards.