Washed Away: Texas A&M's Offense Stalls in Rainy Loss to Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. - On Senior Day in Athens, fans piled in to say goodbye to 24 Georgia Bulldogs as they embark on their next chapter. As his name echoed throughout Samford Stadium, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship would enter the field for the final time to roar of applause, the loudest of the afternoon.
He wouldn't disappoint the home faithful, making all four field goals and ultimately acting as the difference-maker for the Bulldogs in their 19-13 victory over Texas A&M. Blankenship would also surpass Blair Walsh as the all-time leading scorer with 415 points on the afternoon.
Both teams struggled on offense as the rain continued to douse fans in the stands. The Aggies (7-4, 4-3 SEC) hoped their offensive identity could continue to thrive away from Aggieland. A mix of weather and strong defensive front shut down any progression for three-quarters of play.
A&M had relied on a promising run game during their now extinct four-game win streak. The duo of Isaiah Spiller and Cordarrian Richardson looked near flawless the previous weekend against South Carolina. Georgia never got the message, holding the team to -1 rushing yards on the afternoon.
Kellen Mond contributed to negative play, rushing for -8 yards on seven carries. The junior would be sacked four times on his way to a 275 passing performance between the hedges. A majority of his stats would not come until the fourth quarter.
Georgia's (10-1, 7-1 SEC) win could be more on A&M's miscommunications rather than their own success. Jake Fromm struggled throughout all four quarters, going 11 of 23 for 163 yards and a touchdown. Relying on the run game, it was once in the red zone the junior found a rhythm.
The teams traded back on three-and-outs for a majority of the first half. Blankenship would end the streak of punts with a 41-yard field to give Georgia a lead in the first quarter. A&M kicker Seth Small would tie things up in the second quarter with his 37-yard kick.
Georgia's offense found success on the ground behind the legs of Dandre Swift. The junior runner would finish with 103 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. It would be his fifth 100-yard game of the year, setting a new career-best.
Fromm's inconsistencies led to a promising drive in the second quarter. Following a pair of 20-yard passes to Tyler Simmons and Kearis Jackson, he'd connect with freshman George Pickens for a 16-yard touchdown, extending the lead by 10. Pickens would lead the team with 57 receiving yards on the day.
Although down, Jimbo Fisher switched up his play-calling, focusing more on the aerial attack. Just as the sun finally peaked through the muggy weather, so did A&M's offense. Mond would connect with Kendrick Rogers and Quartney Davis across the middle before finding Jhamon Ausbon for a 19-yard gain, putting A&M down by six.
An Aaron Hansford sack gave Aggie fans hope as the Bulldogs would be forced to punt. Mond would deliver once more, connecting with Aubson and Rogers for 20-yard gains. With the Aggies in Georgia territory, the junior tried to find tight end Jalen Wydermyer. On a controversial call, the officials ruled that the freshman would not be held, leading to a Braden Mann punt.
Wydermyer would also fumble following a first down play on the opening drive of the third quarter. It would lead to a 37-yard Blankenship field goal to give Georgia a 19-6 lead.
Penalties caused by the road team would offset A&M early. The Aggies would finish with seven total calls for a total of 45 yards, three of which came on false starts. A Swift run with under two minutes would end the comeback, sealing a one-loss season in the conference for the Bulldogs.
The Aggies' early struggles led to their first loss in over a month. While the team rebounded, the lack of offensive execution played a vital role in the team's demise. One game all that stands in A&M's way from finish either 8-4 or 7-5 on a tough season.
It won't come easy either. The Aggies travel to Tiger Stadium to take on top-ranked LSU next Saturday for rivalry week.