COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Devon Achane had a career-best 215 yards rushing with two touchdowns, and Texas A&M stunned No. 6 LSU 38-23 on Saturday night, all but certainly knocking the Tigers out of contention for the College Football Playoff.
“They have done some incredible things and I don’t want this loss to at all take away from what they’ve accomplished this year,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “This was not a step back. This was a bump in the road and they’re going to learn from it.”
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Conner Weigman threw two TD passes for the Aggies (5-7, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) and Demani Richardson returned a fumble for a score. The game was tied at 17-all in the third quarter before A&M scored 21 straight points.
“It shows the type of team we can be,” Achane said. “Just showing that it wasn’t the season we wanted but came out to beat a top-(10) team.”
LSU (9-3, 6-2, No. 5 CFP) had already secured a spot in next week’s SEC title game against unbeaten No. 1 Georgia, and a win there could have put the Tigers in the playoff. But with three losses, even beating the Bulldogs likely won’t be enough.
“We just weren’t our best today,” Kelly said. “I’d like to give you a reason why weren’t our best but we just weren’t and we needed to be better.”
The Aggies, who opened the season ranked No. 6 but won’t qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2008, had a strong finish to their disappointing season. They won consecutive games for the first time since September after snapping a six-game skid with a victory over UMass last week.
“There’s not a secret to this,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Just go do your job. There’s no magical formula.”
Achane ran for 119 yards and a score before halftime to help A&M to a 17-10 lead.
LSU opened the second half with a nine-play, 71-yard drive, capped by a 19-yard run by John Emery Jr. to tie it at 17-17.
But Edgerrin Cooper hit Jayden Daniels and forced him to fumble on LSU’s next drive. Richardson scooped it up and dashed 37 yards for his second touchdown this season to put A&M on top 24-17 with about seven minutes left in the third quarter.
“I think there was some momentum swing there,” Kelly said. “I don’t know if we ever really recovered from it.”
The Aggies extended the lead to 31-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter when Moose Muhammad reeled in a 21-yard TD catch with one hand.
A 10-yard run by Achane, who returned after missing two games with a foot injury, made it 38-17 with about eight minutes to go.
A rowdy crowd of more than 93,000 fans packed Kyle Field and some began to rush the field with about 17 seconds left, causing a delay. It was a stark difference from last week, when most of the crowd emptied out after halftime on a wet and cold day.
Those fans and several thousand more poured onto the field when time expired.
Daniels threw for 189 yards and ran for 84 more and Emery had three touchdowns for the Tigers, who lost their first game since they fell 40-13 at home to Tennessee on Oct. 8.
Emery cut the lead to 38-23 with a 3-yard run with about 6 1/2 minutes to go, but the 2-point conversion failed.
Daniels nearly connected with Jaray Jenkins in the end zone on fourth down on LSU’s next possession, but Tyreek Chappell knocked the ball out of Jenkins’ hands. The Aggies then ran out the clock.
Achane put A&M ahead early with a 10-yard TD run on the team’s first possession.
Emery tied it with a 4-yard run early in the second quarter.
The teams exchanged field goals, and the Aggies regained the lead when Weigman threw under heavy pressure and connected with Donovan Green on a 3-yard score about a minute before halftime. Achane had runs of 29 and 17 yards on that drive.
LSU: With their playoff chances all but nonexistent, Kelly’s Tigers will have to put this one behind them quickly if they hope to compete with the Bulldogs.
Texas A&M: The Aggies showed they have plenty of talent to compete with teams at the top of the SEC. The question is why Fisher’s team couldn’t put it together earlier in the year. The Aggies hadn’t won an SEC game since beating Arkansas on Sept. 24.
LSU: Plays Georgia in the SEC championship game next Saturday.
Texas A&M: Will try to move on from this disappointing season.