Close but Yet So Far: Texas A&M's Fight Against Georgia Wasn't Enough
COLLEGE STATION - The Dr. Jeykll/Mr. Hyde effect has been well documented throughout the history of College Football. That has been the case for Texas A&M during the 2019 season away from Kyle Field.
The Aggies seem to start slow, allowing teams to find an early lead and score consistently. Once in a rhythm, the damage could be too far done for them to bounce back. In late September, A&M rebounded against then No.8 Auburn to fall short at home.
It happened again Saturday at Samford Stadium against the No.4 Georgia Bulldogs. A fourth-quarter revival added a spark to the offense, but the early struggle played the ultimate factor in A&M's 19-13 loss against the Bulldogs.
"I think we showed a lot of guts," A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Unfortunately, there are no moral victories. We're not here for moral victories. We played a great football team very well, but we've got to find that last 2 inches at the top of the mountain."
Take away the first three quarters of play and A&M (7-4, 4-3 SEC) likely walks away with a victory under their belt. The power of time travel hasn't come into play yet, meaning the team must learn from the mistakes. Everything from play calling to execution led to the Aggies punt on three straight drives.
The team wouldn't pick up a first down until the final minutes of the first quarter. That came on a 23-yard pass to Jhamon Ausbon. It would be the only positive play on the half as the Aggies would settle for a 37-yard field goal from Seth Small on the next drive.
The third quarter could have been the turning point for A&M's offense. Mond would connect with Jalen Wydermyer to pick up the first down before Georgia's Richard LeCounte would cause a fumble before he could touch the ground. The Bulldogs would add to their lead with a 37-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship.
As the raindrops began to come in drips over showers, the A&M offense found the spark in the sun. Mond would produce be productive in the fourth quarter, culminating a 10-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Aubson. The defense stepped up with a sack, giving the team a chance to put the Aggies ahead.
A third-down call would be the ultimate difference-maker for A&M in the end. Mond would try to connect with Wydermyer, but a potential missed holding call led to a Braden Mann punt. D'Andre Swift would ice the game thanks to an 11-yard run with under 90 seconds left.
“Give them credit: They had us on our heels,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “It was like Auburn when we tired.”
Mond's late-game success has been consistent in College Station. Last season, the Aggies battled through seven overtimes to defeat then-No.8 LSU at home. Twice, Mond has led comebacks against a pair of Tiger teams, just falling short of completing the comeback.
"I mean we're right there," Mond said Saturday evening. "Like I talk about every time, we just have to get over that hump and continue to fight on the road, especially in a loud environment and a hostile environment. I feel we're getting better."
The Aggies played three seniors Saturday, meaning a majority of their roster could return for the 2020 campaign. The battle that was won in inches and kicks could swing A&M's way with a veteran core for the future.
Good teams find a way to win. Solid teams find a way to keep it interesting. A&M would find themselves in the interesting category after close losses to two top-10 ranked opponents.
The Jekyll/Hyde effect can catch any team at any moment. On Saturday, it found A&M early and all people will remember is the final score.
Not Mond's 193-yard second-half growth. Not a strong defensive performance that held the Bulldogs to one touchdown. Not even a potential blown call by the referees.
Just another season loss and questions on the program's future heading into the final game of the year is all that remains.