The Box Score is a series in which we select one impressive box score, do all sorts of historical research, watch the game if we can find it, and write about it. It has a complementary podcast called – you got it – The Box Score Show.
Texas A&M and LSU met in the 2011 Cotton Bowl back when the Aggies were a member of the Big 12 Conference. LSU was victorious that day, winning 41-24. Two years later, Texas A&M joined the SEC and started playing LSU every year.
Two days after Thanksgiving in 2018, on a comfortable 65-degree night at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas A&M hosted LSU facing a potentially eighth straight loss against the Tigers, having still never beaten LSU as a member of the SEC. At No. 22 in the College Football Playoff Rankings in their last regular-season game of the year, Texas A&M, under first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher, kicked off to seventh-ranked LSU at 6:39 p.m. local time. What transpired over the next four hours and 53 minutes was a classic and exhilarating display of everything that makes college football exciting.
In 2018-19, the Texas A&M and LSU women’s basketball teams split two games. LSU won 63-52 at home. Texas A&M won 59-55 at home. The LSU men’s basketball team beat Texas A&M twice – the scores were 72-57 and 66-55. So the highest-scoring game of the bunch was 129 points.
The football game that fall ended 74-72 Texas A&M – that is, after everyone thought it ended at 31-24 LSU. Twice.
We’ll first cover the chronology, then the history but you can skip ahead to The Final Tally section if you came for sentences that start with phrases like, “This was the only time in FBS history…”
First Half of Regulation
The first half of this SEC battle plays out quite normally with the teams trading three-and-outs on their opening drives. A&M opens the scoring with a 10-play, 95-yard touchdown drive capped by running back Trayveon Williams’ 10-yard rushing touchdown. LSU responds immediately with a 12-play drive that’s finished off by a 22-yard rushing touchdown by Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow. A&M gets the ball back, runs three plays and the first quarter comes to an end at 7-7.
The Aggies’ drive continues as the second quarter begins, and they march right down the field for their second straight touchdown, this time courtesy of a Kellen Mond touchdown pass. It’s the first of many. LSU gets the ball back, but their drive stalls and ends in a 49-yard missed field goal that clangs off the left upright. The Aggies take advantage of good starting field position and drive right down the field. This time, though, the Tigers get a stop in the red zone and force the Aggies into a field goal of their own.
LSU gets the ball back with just under two minutes remaining. They drive straight down the field and kick a 47-yard field goal with no time left in the half. It’s a relatively drab first half that ends with Texas A&M on top 17-10 at halftime.
And so ends the normal portion of the night.
Second Half of Regulation
It is now just past 8:30 p.m. local time as the teams run back onto the field to begin the second half. The third quarter is more of the same and sees each team score one touchdown. LSU opens the scoring with Burrow’s first touchdown pass to tie the game at 17-all. A&M goes three-and-out. But a fumble by Tigers’ punt returner Jonathan Giles gifts the ball back to A&M, who immediately takes advantage of the turnover by scoring eight plays later on Williams’ second rushing touchdown of the game.
With a seven-point lead restored entering the fourth quarter, the Aggies force LSU to punt and get the ball back with a chance to take a two-score lead. But with 10:26 left in regulation, there’s an underlying issue here: The Aggies have 51 total yards in the second half. And instead of moving the ball, the exact opposite happens. LSU linebacker Devin White forces a Williams fumble, and fellow LB Michael Divinity Jr. picks up the ball and rumbles 58 yards for a game-tying scoop and score.
Suddenly, with all the momentum in a tied game, LSU forces a three-and-out, gets the ball back and scores four plays later, aided by a 46-yard rush by Lanard Fournette, former LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s brother. With 6:41 left, Foster Moreau hauls in a 14-yard pass from Burrow. It’s Burrow’s second touchdown pass of the game, and LSU takes a seven-point lead.
A&M attempts to respond, but with 2:32 to play, the Aggies are stopped on fourth down on the LSU 37. The game seems very much over, for a normal football game, but this is nothing given what we’re about to see at the end of regulation and beyond.
Needing just one first down to ice the game away, LSU’s offense goes three-and out, setting the stage for a wild and entertaining ending.
Texas A&M’s Final Drive of Regulation
Led by Mond and down 31-24, the Aggies get the ball on their own 22-yard line with no timeouts and 1:29 left. After a couple of first downs, Mond throws an interception*, and LSU looks to have pulled out the road victory. The game is so over that a couple of LSU players have the time to douse head coach Ed Orgeron in Gatorade. For us as viewers – or announcers as Taylor Zarzour and Matt Stinchcomb – the game was over.
“LSU is going to 10 wins,” we hear from the booth.
However, upon review, it was determined that Mond – who dropped the snap – touched his knee to the ground before throwing the INT, setting up a third and 18 from the 39-yard line. After an incomplete pass on third down, A&M faces a fourth-and-nearly a fifth of the field. A Quartney Davis catch extended the game, with the ball on the LSU 41-yard line and only 10 seconds remaining.
The following play is a Mond 22-yard pass down the right sideline. The clock stops with three seconds left for the first down. A&M races up to the line and spikes the ball with no* time remaining, seemingly pointing to an LSU win. But upon another review, one second is added to the clock, setting up a final play. And naturally, A&M capitalizes. A Mond bullet finds Davis in the back of the end zone. Fisher elects to kick a PAT, sending the game to overtime.
The telecast shows Orgeron soaked on the sideline with plenty of coaching to come.
Around three and a half hours after the game started, LSU starts the first OT with the ball at the A&M 25-yard line and proceeds to go backwards. Three plays lose them seven yards and forces a 50-yard field goal attempt from kicker Cole Tracy, which barley clears the line but is good from the same from which he’d missed from 49.
A&M’s first play on their responding drive is a controversial catch/fumble ruling that went in favor of the Aggies, the ruling: Incomplete though oddly the officials don’t make an announcement after a delay and we simply play on.
“That looks like a catch and a fumble,” we hear from the booth, but instead A&M have new life (again).
Their next three plays see them march down to the 1-yard line. It’s first-and-goal, but the LSU defense holds strong with a goal-line stand, and forces a field goal of their own, which A&M makes to send the game to the second overtime.
Per college football rules, Texas A&M starts with the ball in the second overtime. They only need four plays to tally 25 yards, and Mond gets the Aggies into the end zone on a three-yard rush.
With LSU now needing a touchdown to extend the game, they ran the ball repeatedly, ultimately setting up a fourth-and-two from the 3-yard line. Nick Brossette gets the ball, and the Tigers get into the end zone to send the game to a third OT.
LSU starts the third overtime with the ball and wastes no time. Burrow throws a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive. With the rules now enforcing all teams to go for a two-point conversion, Burrow throws to wide receiver Justin Jefferson on a designed rollout to successfully convert the two-point play.
Needing a response, Texas A&M WR Kendrick Rogers makes perhaps the play of the game, an outrageous one-handed grab in the end zone. Mond goes right back to Rogers on the two-point conversion to force the game to a fourth overtime.
Both teams kick field goals from inside 30 yards to knot the game at 52. Paragraph over.
LSU begins with the ball, and the first play of the drive is a 13-yard pass to fullback Tory Carter. After a two-yard run on the second play, LSU pulls out a trick play to get into the end zone. Then-backup running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire receiving a pitch from Burrow, then throws a halfback pass to Carter for the score. These would ultimately be Carter’s only two catches (and touches) of the game, while future Chiefs first rounder CEH finished with three carries for three yards and one pass attempt for 11 and a score. They were not able to score on the two-point conversion, opening the door for Texas A&M.
Needing to respond with a touchdown once more, A&M starts with a 21-yard run on a Mond scramble to set up a first down at the 4-yard line. Three plays later though, and A&M is staring at a fourth down and six, needing a score to extend the game. Mond goes right back to his favorite target during this overtime bonanza, Rogers, to tie the game. However, A&M too, is unsuccessful on their two-point attempt, as the game moves to a sixth overtime.
This time, it’s the Aggies that don’t wait around, as Mond throws his fifth touchdown pass of the game, this time to tight end Jace Sternberger, on the first play of the possession. On the following two-point attempt, Mond goes back to Rogers again to put the Aggies up eight.
The Tigers respond quickly. Three plays get them to the 4-yard line, and Burrow keeps the ball on a read option and dives into the end zone, setting up a must-have two-point conversion. After a timeout, LSU puts the ball in Burrow’s hands, ultimately reaping the rewards as he combines with WR Dee Anderson to convert in this penultimate period.
“Is it Sunday Yet?” we hear from the booth.
With the game still tied, now at 66, LSU is the recipient of a pass interference on the first play of their drive. On the subsequent play, Burrow executes another read-option perfectly, scoring on a 10-yard scamper. It’s his third rushing touchdown of the game and sixth overall. However, they’re unable to convert on the two-point conversion.
With the ball and facing a third-and-15 from the 17-yard line, Mond throws his sixth touchdown pass of the game, the second caught by Davis. And after four hours and 53 minutes, 90 minutes worth of high-stress OT, 17 touchdowns, 146 points, 1,016 yards, a slew of critical plays and a hasty Gatorade bath, Texas A&M lines up for a two-point conversion attempt to win the game.
After a shotgun snap, Mond drops back, buys time in the pocket, and throws a rocket to, you guessed it, Kendrick Rogers, as Texas A&M beats LSU for the first time as a member of the SEC in the Game of the Year.
The Final Tally
In front of 101,501 screaming fans (considerably less by the end of the game), Texas A&M and LSU produced a record-filled affair. With Rogers final two-point conversion, the teams set the record for most combined points (146) ever in an NCAA FBS game. A game that sets a scoring record is sure to have a plethora of statistical achievements, so let’s list some of them out.Mond only completed four passes in the seven OT periods and all four of those completions went for touchdowns. In addition to the final play of regulation, Mond’s last five completions all went for a touchdown. Only one other QB has managed that feat since 2012, Marshall’s Chase Litton in a 62-0 win over Morgan State in September 2016.
Since the inception of overtimes in 1996, this game tied the record for most overtimes in a single game. The teams combined for 84 points in overtime, the most since a 2003 battle between Arkansas and Kentucky. Additionally, with each team scoring over 40 points, they account for two of the five instances where a team scored 40+ points in OT.
A&M’s hero on the day was Rogers, who only caught three passes. But two of them went for touchdowns, both in overtime. He also was the recipient of all three of A&M’s successful two-point attempts, making him the first FBS player to record three two-point conversions in a single game, rushing or receiving.
Both QB’s were stellar in this game. Burrow had six touchdowns, three through the air and on the ground. Mond recorded six passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. Neither QB turned the ball over in this game, making it only the fourth occurrence since 2000 to see both QB’s account for 6+ touchdowns and no interceptions.
But Burrow also had quite the game on the ground, pairing his three rushing TDs with a career-high 100 yards.
His future pro teammate led the way for the Aggies with 198 yards on a career-high 35 carries.
With the largest lead for either team 10 points, this truly was a back-and-forth affair. The teams combined for 22 game-tying or go-ahead scores in this game, the most dating to 1996. It’s the only game to go above 20 such instances.
Thanks to college football rules, with each team having a chance to respond to what the other team does, the final six drives of this game all ended in touchdowns. The only other time this happened since 2012 actually happened one day earlier, when Akron and Ohio also accomplishing this feat.
And finally, in order for A&M to win, they first had to face historically bad odds. The Aggies became the first team to win a game in the FBS since 2012 to have four plays (excluding extra points) where they needed to score, or they’d immediately lose.
- The final play of regulation from the LSU 18: Mond touchdown pass to Davis.
- A field goal in first overtime: Kicker Seth Small made a 23-yard kick.
- A two-point conversion in the third overtime: Mond pass to Rogers.
- A fourth-and-six in the fifth overtime: Mond pass to Rogers.
All it took for Texas A&M to overcome their SEC West rival was overcoming some astronomical odds and participating in the longest and highest scoring game in FBS history.