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LSU Caps Off Ed Orgeron Era with Wild 27-24 Win Over No. 14 Texas A&M

Touchdown pass from Johnson to Jenkins as seconds dwindle helps LSU avoid first losing season since 1999

Really, how else could Ed Orgeron's tenure as LSU's coach have ended?

It was a tale of two halves for the purple and gold as a dominant showing early was made much worse by an equally frustrating second half of play. With the game all but decided with just under two minutes to go, an improbable 85-yard drive was capped off by an unforgettable touchdown, putting a bewildering final touch to Orgeron's LSU career. 

A much maligned offense that had taken the brunt of scrutiny in recent weeks was able to shut the naysayers up as Max Johnson delivered a beautiful throw to Jaray Jenkins for a 28-yard touchdown catch to cap off the 2021 regular season in style. Now the Tigers will go bowling with a 6-6 record. 

LSU's offense had been in search of balance in the run and pass all season and was able to get it early, with a few big passing plays stealing the headlines. The Tigers came out firing on all cylinders, consistently able to rack up chunks of yardage and not really having many poor drives at all. 

The first half was defined by two explosive plays, a 45-yard dime of a throw from Johnson to Jaray Jenkins that put the Tigers up two scores early. Then right before the half, a perfectly executed screen pass from Johnson to Trey Palmer when 61 yards to the house to go back up double digits. 

Those explosive plays, which had been missing for so much of the season on offense completely flipped the momentum in the Tigers favor. Johnson looked extremely comfortable in the first half but equally uncomfortable in the second half. 

The sophomore tossed for 306 yards and three touchdowns on the evening as the Tigers would also add 106 rushing yards, led by Tyrion Davis-Price and his 84 which put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

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On defense the goal heading in was to slow down running back Isaiah Spiller but the gameplan quickly shifted as Zach Calzada showed early that his arm was far more dangerous than thought. LSU's defense was stout for most of the first half, allowing one long touchdown drive but forced punts on all of the other four drives. 

LSU controlled the interior as Neil Farrell, Jaquelin Roy and Damone Clark were consistently making plays in the backfield and forcing Calzada into some tough throws. The Tigers accounted for four sacks and nine tackles for a loss on the evening. Give the Aggies quarterback some credit though for making a few big time throws throughout the course of the contest. 

Calzada would finish the game with 242 yards passing and three touchdown against an LSU secondary that's been stellar to close the season. 

LSU's offense had a tough time matching some of the success it found in the first half once the third quarter began. It was pretty easy to feel the momentum begin to shift in the Aggies direction as the Tigers ran just seven plays for eight yards to start the second half. 

The Tigers would put together just one scoring drive in the second half as drops, sacks and early down lost yardage led to five punts in the final 30 minutes. Texas A&M entered with one of the better defensive lines in the country and was able to get pressure and lead to six sacks total. 

Meanwhile the Aggies were able to find a groove on the ground and cut the LSU lead to 20-17 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and grabbing control of the game. Though the defense certainly bent, allowing 10 second half punts, it also picked up a few critical stops, including two more huge tackles for a loss from Clark down the stretch.

It was an absolutely chaotic and fitting way to end the Orgeron era and now all eyes turn to what's next?