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Texas A&M Ends Six-Game Losing Streak, But Show Lingering Flaws In Win

Texas A&M nearly choked away its cupcake matchup over UMass.

COLLEGE STATION -- It turns out yes, it can get worse. 

The Texas A&M Aggies ended its six-game losing streak thanks to a 20-3 victory over UMass at Kyle Field Saturday morning. 

And while Jimbo Fisher will hit the reset button on the Aggies' record, remember the antecedent entering the game. 

Texas A&M entered Saturday as a 34.5-point favorite. Its largest lead was by seven thanks to a 22-yard touchdown pass from Conner Weigman to Noah Thomas. 

The Minutemen entered Saturday ranked 102nd in stopping the run, holding opponents to 179.6 yards per game and 4.34 yards per run. The Aggies combined for 207 yards on 39 carries and averaged 5.5 yards per run, though it felt like 2.3 in the entire second half. 

Play-calling was pathetic. Pass protection was poor. And in a torrential downpour that flooded Kyle Field's sidelines, the downpour of disheartened fans that stood in soppy weather conditions left a more abiding image. 

As the third quarter kicked off, the announcer read 90,177 stood in attendance. Dozens of rows were left untouched between the nearest fans at the second and third levels of a stadium that can seat over 102,000. 

"We're all disappointed, [we're] not where we want to be," Fisher said of the less-than-stellar crowd. "But they will be packed out of here next week I think for the things that go on and we play LSU. I'm sure they'll be here."

How does a win feel like a loss? The Minutemen (1-10) have won three games in four years. They're currently on an eight-game losing streak and feature an offense that ranks 129th nationally in yards per game. 

The Minutemen finished with 168 yards of offense, though the number felt higher at an initial glance. Texas A&M (4-7, 1-6 SEC) finished with 404 yards, 155 of which came in the second half. Once Le'Veon Moss crossed the pylon to extend the lead by 17, Fisher played it safe, hoping to secure the win rather than unleash frustration that could potentially cost the team a drive. 

"Our kids played their hearts out and they played tough and they did the things they had to do to win the game," Fisher said. "Any win you have is a win." 

Fisher can try to sell the weather being a problem. He can write off injuries are part of the concern, especially when it comes to freshman quarterback Conner Weigman's lack of consistency. Both running back Devon Achane and receiver Evan Stewart were ruled out prior to kickoff. 

All excuses were understandable against programs in the SEC. An Independent not named Notre Dame? No one is listening this time. 

The Aggies finished with three turnovers on the afternoon compared to UMass' one. That number could've been higher, but a holding call against a Minutemen defender negated a fourth on an Earnest Crownover fumble late in the fourth quarter. 

Moose Muhammad III, the Aggies' top target since Week 4, fumbled after a gain of 45 to give the Minutemen the ball at their own 14. Donovan Green, the future at tight end, fumbled trying to pick up the first down at UMass' 42 with three minutes left in the second quarter. 

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Weigman was sacked three times and fumbled twice, recovering both before UMass could pounce on the ball for another turnover. Outside of Moss' 12-yard touchdown run, A&M's longest drive in the second half went 29 yards and was capped off by a miss field goal. 

Don Brown, UMass' head coach, went 0-of-2 on fourth-down conversions but showed heart to give his offense a fighting chance. Fisher elected to attempt a 45-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining in the first half, all but waving the white flag on the drive with the intent of getting out of the frigid conditions and into the locker room's warmth. 

Which is cooler entering Sunday; the College Station weather forecast or Fisher's approval rating among boosters and fans? 

"Nobody is discouraged," Fisher said. That's where we are right now. We won a game and move on." 

Next up is SEC West champs LSU. Last season, then-quarterback Max Johnson connected with Jaray Jenkins for a 24-yard touchdown with 22 seconds remaining to pull off the 27-24 upset. A&M could return the favor by playing the role of spoiler, thus eliminating the Tigers' slim chances of making the College Football Playoff. 

Fisher isn't looking to play the role of spoiler. At least not in the public eye. Thoughts like that can't occur for the head coach of a team that started the season No. 6 and will finish below .500 for the first time since 2008. 

As the fourth quarter began, fans started running relay races in the stands with their rally towels serving as the baton. In moist socks and soak-stained t-shirts, the Aggie faithful that endured two-and-half hours of lifeless football found more joy in playing in puddles than watching the final 15 minutes. 

That's where Texas A&M is as a program. Failure to make necessary changes, that's what the future entails.

"It's a blessing to get a win," said offensive lineman Layden Robinson. "We just didn't get the win the way we wanted to get the win. So we just got to figure that out."

Kickoff from Kyle Field next Saturday is set for 6:00 p.m. 

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