It took some fight and many dramatic twists and turns Saturday, but eventually, No. 22 Texas A&M escaped Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La., with a 59-57 win over No. 23 Louisiana Tech. With the win, the no. 22 Aggies (5-1) have now won five straight and will prepare for a showdown with LSU (6-1) next weekend at Kyle Field. But before we jump to that, let's look back at the high and low points of the Aggies' win:
1. Johnny Manziel: After a tough day against Mississippi, the redshirt freshman quarterback dazzled again. He broke his own Texas A&M and SEC total offense record, which he set against Arkansas two weeks ago, compiling 576 total yards (395 passing, 181 rushing) and accounting for six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing). He made a critical mistake, throwing an interception to Shakeil Lucas, but Manziel bounced back by leading two consecutive touchdown drives to give the Aggies a 15-point lead.
2. Mike Evans: The redshirt freshman receiver continues to be a favorite target for Manziel. Evans caught four passes for 137 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown.
3. Damontre Moore: Moore led the team with 17 tackles, had 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also blocked a PAT attempt that Dustin Harris returned to the end zone for 2 points. Initially that looked like it might not mean much, but it turned out to be the margin of victory.
1. Penalties: The Aggies had a season high in penalties with 19 for 175 yards. The 19 penalties are a school record, the yardage is the second-most in A&M history. It is one area in which they have performed better during the previous three games (nine per game in the first two), but the problem reared its ugly head Saturday. Probably a safe bet that it's high on the list of things the coaching staff will address.
2. Second-half defense: Texas A&M's start on defense was excellent. Its ending, not so much. Louisiana Tech scored 41 points in the second half and all 57 of the Bulldogs' points came in the final 35:32. Seven of them were a result of an interception thrown by Manziel, but the rest were yielded by the defense. Colby Cameron threw for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns with 0 interceptions, senior receiver Quinton Patton was virtually unstoppable with 21 catches for 232 yards and 4 touchdowns, and true freshman running back Kenneth Dixon had 18 carries for 112 yards and 2 scores. Penalties contributed to some of the defensive struggles. One drive was extended after an A&M penalty on a Louisiana Tech punt, and personal fouls and pass interference penalties gave the Bulldogs a lot to work with. The Aggies were good on third downs (they allowed the Bulldogs 5 conversions on 17 attempts) but there is certainly plenty to address on D.
3. Health: The team lost Ryan Swope in the first half and he didn't return; receiver Mike Evans limped off the field late. Others who were down at some point include defensive tackle Spencer Nealy, defensive end Julien Obioha and receiver Malcome Kennedy. The team already came into the game without safeties Deshazor Everett and Steven Campbell, so the team is definitely dealing with bumps and bruises. The Aggies will need as many healthy bodies as possible when LSU arrives next weekend at Kyle Field.