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Texas A&M Football

Post-Game Review: Texas A&M 21, ULM 16

November 1, 2014

Freshman receiver Speedy Noil made a circus catch of a pass from freshman Kyle Allen for a 39-yard touchdown that proved to be the difference in a closer-than-expected 21-16 Texas A&M victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday at Kyle Field.

The Aggies (6-3; 2-3 in the Southeastern Conference) ended a three-game losing streak despite being outgained 347 yards to 243 and failing to score in the second half.

A&M was rescued by the play of its two most heralded freshmen. Not only did Noil make a touchdown catch, but he also returned a punt 39 yards to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Tra Carson.

The defense, led by freshman defensive end Myles Garrett, made sure 21 points would be enough. The Aggies held ULM (3-5; 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference) to a pair of short field goals in the second half. Garrett posted 3.5 sacks to lead a pass rush that dropped ULM seven times for 19 yards in losses.

Andrew Cagle, TexAgs Kevin Sumlin's Aggies may have won, but the problems that characterized the past three losses didn't appear to be fixed. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"left","Size":"large","Caption":"Kevin Sumlin\u0027s Aggies may have won, but the problems that characterized the past three losses didn\u0027t appear to be fixed.","MediaItemID":38310}
Rising: Anxiety, which must be reaching an all-time high for this season. Quarterback Kenny Hill was suspended two games for breaking team rules. Then, the Aggies fought off Louisiana-Monroe to eke out a 21-16 victory, one in which A&M failed to score in the second half.

Despite positive spins in a postgame press conference, the fact remains A&M had to hold off a challenge from a second-division Sun Belt team. Yes, a three-game streak of blowout losses came to an end, but a five-point victory over a team that lost to Texas State and Arkansas State has to be disconcerting.

Falling: Blame the early kickoff. Blame it on the day after Halloween. Blame it on the first day of deer season. Blame it on chilly temperatures.

Or, blame it on the Aggies’ previous showings.

Whatever the case, the attendance appeared to drop significantly at Kyle Field despite the announced crowd of 100,922. Capacity is 106,511, but the eye test would suggest the actual attendance was much lower. At best, it was a late-arriving crowd. By game time there were major gaps within the bleachers.

Best hands: Noil turned in a grab worthy of ESPN’s Top 10 list just a minute before halftime. Noil was well-covered by ULM cornerback Trey Caldwell on a deep route on the sideline. Caldwell, with inside position, reached out to make what appeared to be an interception near the goal line. Instead, Noil used his right hand to jolt the football loose from Caldwell and pulled the pass in with his right arm for a 39-yard touchdown.

Best hit: Howard Matthews delivered a blow that forced ULM receiver Ajalen Holley to drop a pass inside the A&M 30-yard line late in the first half. Had Holley made the catch, the Warhawks would’ve had chances to reach the end zone before intermission. As it turned out, they settled for a field goal.

TexAgs Despite the pass game's strggles, A&M's rushing attack iced the game in the closing minutes. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"right","Size":"large","Caption":"Despite the pass game\u0027s strggles, A\u0026M\u0027s rushing attack iced the game in the closing minutes.","MediaItemID":47994}
Turning point: After forcing a punt with 6:48 left in the game, the Aggies took over at their own 22-yard line. They proceeded to run on eight consecutive plays — on which they gained 33 yards, converted two third downs into first downs and drained a considerable amount of the clock. The Aggies eventually punted and gave ULM a final possession at its own 11 with 1:57 to play, but A&M essentially clinched the victory with the previous series.

Standing ‘O’: On ULM’s fifth play from scrimmage, Garrett broke through to drop quarterback Pete Thomas for a three-yard loss. The sack raised Garrett’s season total to 8.5, which set a Southeastern Conference freshman record. The previous record was eight, held by South Carolina DE and eventual No. 1 NFL Draft pick Jadeveon Clowney. Garrett added 2.5 more sacks in the third quarter.

Scoring summary

First quarter

A&M: Brandon Williams 1-yard run (Josh Lambo kick). Key play: Kyle Allen 11-yard run on third-and-11. A&M 7, ULM 0

Second quarter

ULM: Centarius Donald 1-yard run (Justin Manton kick). Key play: Rashon Ceaser 29-yard pass from Pete Thomas. ULM 7, A&M 7

A&M: Tra Carson 5-yard run (Lambo kick). Key play: Speedy Noil 39-yard punt return to ULM 12-yard line. A&M 14, ULM 7

A&M: Noil 39-yard pass from Allen (Lambo kick). A&M 21, ULM 7

ULM: Manton 51-yard FG. Key play: Pass interference on De’Vante Harris. A&M 21, ULM 10

Fourth quarter

ULM: Manton 23-yard FG. Key play: Ajalen Holley 12-yard pass from Thomas on fourth-and-five to the A&M 10. A&M 21, ULM 13

ULM: Manton 22-yard FG. Key play: Thomas 3-yard run on fourth-and-two to A&M 6-yard line. A&M 21, ULM 16
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