COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)- Fresno State overcame a 19-point deficit, but Texas A&M held on for a 47-45 triple overtime thriller on Saturday at Kyle Field.
The Aggies' Jorvorski Lane rushed for two of his four touchdowns in the second and third extra periods as the 23rd-ranked Aggies beat the feisty Bulldogs 47-45 in three overtimes.
The 6-foot, 268-pound Lane barreled for his final touchdown from 3 yards out, then charged into the end zone again on the 2-point conversion on A&M's third overtime possession.
Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater, who went 21-for-31 for 260 yards, then scrambled left and found tight end Bear Pascoe in the end zone to cut the Aggies' lead to 2. On the 2-point conversion try -- required starting in the third overtime -- Brandstater overthrew receiver Marlon Moore in the corner of the end zone, giving the Aggies their ninth consecutive nonconference victory on their home field.
The Aggies (2-0) could have locked this one up on Fresno State's first play of the first overtime.
After Matt Szymanski kicked a 27-yard field goal to give A&M a 32-29 lead, Moore caught a Brandstater pass and tried to stretch the ball over the goal line with one hand. He fumbled into the end zone as he stepped out of bounds, and the Aggies recovered the loose ball. The official on the spot ruled that Moore went out at the 1.
Officials reviewed replays and ruled that Moore had fumbled, but A&M nose tackle Henry Smith was flagged for roughing the passer on the play and Fresno State (1-1) was given a first down inside the A&M 13. Clint Stitser kicked a field goal to force another overtime.
Anthony Harding scored on Fresno's next chance, but Lane had a 1-yard TD run to force the third overtime.
A&M's defense dominated in the first half, helping the Aggies build a 19-0 lead. But Brandstater completed his first eight passes in the second half and hit Pascoe with 5 seconds left in regulation to force the extra periods.
The Bulldogs' offense mustered only 78 total yards and five first downs in the first half.
The Aggies got the ball to start the third quarter, but quarterback Stephen McGee was hit by Fresno linebacker Eric Brown and fumbled at the A&M 32. On third-and-8 from the A&M 16, Brandstater found Pascoe on a slant route for a touchdown.
Bulldogs tailback Clifton Smith fumbled for the second time in the game with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, this time at the Fresno 30. But A&M could only muster a 32-yard field goal by Szymanski to go up 22-7.
Fresno State answered with its best drive of the game, marching 80 yards in 12 plays. Brandstater found a wide-open Seyi Ajirotutu for a 33-yard gain before Ryan Matthews scored on a 10-yard sweep with 3:06 left in the third quarter. Matthews rushed for 40 yards on the drive.
While the Bulldogs offense hit its stride, the Aggies' offense turned suddenly inept, gaining only 46 yards on its first four possessions of the second half.
The Bulldogs were on the move again early in the fourth quarter. Brandstater found Moore across the middle for 25 yards and Harding barreled into the end zone from 2 yards out with 11:53 left in the game to make it 22-20. Ajirotutu caught a pass in traffic on the 2-point conversion to tie the game and silence the raucous crowd at Kyle Field.
The Aggies turned to their powerful running game to retake the lead. McGee rushed for 41 yards on A&M's final march of regulation and Lane finished the drive with a touchdown with 1:52 left.
On third-and-8 from the Fresno 36, Brandstater found Devon Wylie wide open over the middle for a 44-yard gain. The Bulldogs drove to the 3 and Brandstater misfired on three passes before finding Pascoe for the tying touchdown on fourth down.
After the sluggish start, Fresno State ended up outgaining A&M 399-397.
McGee rushed for 124 yards, mostly on called option plays.
FRESNO STATE POSTGAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH PAT HILL: “It was a heck of a football game for both teams. There was a lot of fight. It came down to a final two-point play. We had some opportunities to win the game. We made some plays that took us out of it. I give credit to A&M -- they made plays when they had to. I thought we did a better job in the second hal. The object of our program is always to win. We’ve got a great young football team and hopefully we can build on this. I learned that our kids play hard and that’s the biggest challenge I gave to these kids. That was a good football team we played tonight. We had our chances. They made their two-point conversion and we didn’t make ours. Both teams never quit. That was a very hard-played game. The main message we want to get out is that we wanted to get out with a win. Our goal at Fresno State is to get victories.”
(On play review) “They say our receiver tried to stretch it over the goal line. That was the call and we’ll live with it. I’ve never seen anything like that, but that’s how it goes. That’s the way football is sometimes.”
(on A&M’s Jorvorskie Lane) “He’s a tough guy. When they went to pound the big guy on us, I knew we were in trouble.”
QUARTERBACK TOM BRANDSTATER: “It was an exciting game from start to finish. I was disappointed with myself and the offense in the first half. We didn’t play very well and dug a hole. I’m tired of getting so close and coming about with a heartbreaking loss. We could have come out with a victory, but it’s unfortunate the way things turned out. We are so close to becoming a great football team. I was not even thinking about the win; I was just thinking about the next play. I’m proud of our defense. They gave us a chance to win the game. Texas A&M has a great offense with a lethal running game.”
TIGHT END BEAR PASCOE: “If we would have played in the first half like we did in the second half, I think the outcome would have been different. We just came up short. We’re going to come back tomorrow, watch film and get ready for Oregon. I thought we had the game won on the first play of overtime. Sometimes things don’t go your way. You get knocked down, you get up and come back at them. Texas A&M is a great team.”
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES
The Aggies have produced at least one takeaway in 18 consecutive games.
The Aggies won the turnover battle 3-1 which improved their record to 20-3 when they have a turnover advantage in a game during the Dennis Franchione era (since 2003).
Fresno State converted a fumble recovery deep in Aggie territory into a touchdown early in the third quarter. The score broke an 88-minute scoreless string by the Aggies’ defense dating back to the opening drive touchdown by Montana State in the season opener.
Preseason All-American Martellus Bennett’s four-catch first half matched the most productive first half of his career (he also had four catches against Baylor in the first two quarters in 2006). He finished with five receptions for 35 yards.
The Aggies, who lost the time of possession battle last week, held the ball for nearly 19 minutes in the first half against Fresno State. A&M won the TOP battle, 34:08 to 25:52.
The Aggies only had four penalties for 25 yards in the season opener, but they had nine for 88 yards today, including seven for 65 yards in the first half.
Quarterback Stephen McGee, who had the nation’s best interception-to-attempts ratio last season, has not thrown a pickoff in 44 attempts in 2007.
Linebacker Mark Dodge had another double-digit tackle effort with a game-high 16 stops against Fresno State. He also had 14 tackles vs. Montana State and is averaging 15 tackles per game.
A&M’S FIRST TRIPLE OVERTIME: Today’s game marked the first triple overtime game in Texas A&M history. It is the fourth triple overtime game in Big 12 history and only the second in non-conference play. The league record is four overtimes in Kansas 39-37 win at Alabama-Birmingham in 1998.
The Aggies’ all-time overtime games:
1997 A&M 28, Oklahoma State 25 1 OT College Station
1998 A&M 36, Kansas State, 33 2 OT St. Louis (Big 12 Championship)
2000 Mississippi State 43, A&M 41 1 OT Shreveport, La. (Independence Bowl)
2002 Texas Tech 48, A&M 47 1 OT College Station
Missouri 33, A&M 27 2 OT College Station
2004 A&M 29, Colorado 26 1 OT College Station
Baylor 35, A&M 34 1 OT Waco
A&M 32, Texas Tech 25 1 OT College Station
2005 A&M 16, Baylor 13 1 OT College Station
2006 A&M 34, Oklahoma State 33 1 OT Stillwater, Okla.
2007 A&M 47, Fresno State 45 3 OT College Station
Overall Record in OT: 7-4 (Home: 5-2, Away: 1-1, Neutral: 1-1)
Overall Record in 2 OT or more: 2-1 (Home: 1-1, Neutral: 1-0)
RUNAWAY LANE: Jorvorskie Lane tied his career-high with four touchdowns (UL-Lafayette in 2006). He finished with 121 yards on 23 carries, his best game since a 127-yard effort (28 carries) last year against Missouri. It was his fifth career 100-yard game. Lane’s 33 career touchdowns tie Greg Hill (1991-93) for the fifth most in school history. The record is 44 by Darren Lewis (1987-90). His 18-yard TD run in the first half was the second-longest of his career behind a 25-yarder vs. Louisiana Tech in 2006. It was just the third TD run by Lane from more than eight yards out. His other three TDs today were all inside five yards.
PLENTY OF POINTS: A&M and Fresno State combined for 92 points, the second most in an Aggie game in the Big 12 era. Texas Tech and A&M combined for 95 points in a 48-47 double overtime win by the Red Raiders at Kyle Field in 2002.
MCGEE GETS 100 AGAIN: Stephen McGee rushed for 124 yards on 16 carries, his second straight 100-yard rushing game to start the season. McGee ran for 121 yards on 9 carries last week against Montana State. For the season, he’s run for 245 yards on just 25 carries (an average of 9.8 yards per carry). McGee has now had four career 100-yard rushing games.
GRINDING IT OUT: The Aggies rushed for 318 yards, their most since a 399-yard effort against Oklahoma State at Kyle Field in 2005. The trio of Jorvorski Lane (23-121), Stephen McGee (16-124) and Mike Goodson (23-69) combined for all but four of those yards (Chris Alexander had one carry for 4 yards). The last time two Aggies each rushed for more than 100 yards in a game was last year against Army in San Antonio when Lane (106) and McGee (144) turned the trick.
VERSATILE LaMANTIA: Texas A&M’s primary 12th Man Kickoff Team representative Nick LaMantia moved from linebacker to fullback during fall camp, and saw his first action at the position in the second quarter. LaMantia came in at fullback and made a solid lead block and then pulled in a one-yard catch for his first career reception.
SAFETY STOP: The Aggies extended their lead to 19-0 with a safety near the end of the second quarter when Red Bryant pressured the FSU quarterback into a grounding penalty while in the end zone. It was the first safety for the Aggies since 2005 when Kerry Franks blocked a Kansas State punt that was recovered by KSU in the endzone.
AGGIES VS. CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS: Texas A&M is 8-7 all-time against schools from the state of California … Fresno State is the third school from California to come to Kyle Field. A&M is 1-2 in those games including losses of 7-0 to Santa Clara in 1938 and 19-17 to California in 1983. A&M’s last win against a California school came in a 10-7 victory over Bill Walsh’s Stanford Cardinal in the 1992 Pigskin Classic in Anaheim.
EIGHT NAMED TO TEXAS A&M ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME, HONOR: Six Texas A&M athletic greats were inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and two gentlemen were indu cted into the Hall of Honor on Friday, Sept. 7 at the 30th annual Burgess Banquet. The banquet was held at the Bernard C. Richardson Zone at Kyle Field. The 2007 Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame class included: Casey Fossum ’00 (baseball), Shuon Madden ’01 (men’s tennis), Mike McClure ’66 (baseball), Jackie Sherrill (head football coach), Jason Tyner ’99 (baseball) and Richmond Webb ’90 (football). The Hall of Honor inductees were Bill Cauthorn ’60 and I.R. “Bud” Chalmers ’50.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME QUOTES
TE MARTELLUS BENNETT: "They made plays when they needed to make plays. We missed some when we needed to make some good blocks. But they played a great game. Every single play they played hard. They made some plays so we expected them to make some plays and they just made a couple extra plays before we got going again. Our defense came back and did a great job."
(on whether he's ever been in a game like that) "Only when I play madden. The only time I've been…the Army game was like that last year but this one (was) to the extreme. I think our team did a good job fighting through the heat and pain and everything and continued to play. So it was weird."
RB MIKE GOODSON: (on both teams grinding it out on the ground) "We work on it in practice every day. We go through drills and that type of situation, a close game, and it came down to it and we just got it done."
(on the job Fresno did on defending him) "They did a good job. They were kind of stopping me and taking away the pitch so Steve (McGee) ran on them. That's all I can say about that."
DL CHRIS HARRINGTON: (on the affect of the heat) "Our team was in great shape. I don't think any of us really cramped up. Some guys on the other side were cramping up. Coach Fran did a good job of getting us ready to play in the heat and we hydrated well and I don't think that was an issue."
(on the fight of the team) "They (Fresno State) pretty much challenged us and I'm proud of the way we fought and I don't think I can be more proud of my team. It just shows the grit and heart that we have, and the resiliency to keep playing to the last play."
(Going to overtime and winning) really showed the integrity and hard work we put into it and how we are a team and I'm glad we went through this. It brought us together and showed what kind of heart we have and I think, you know, that was a good thing for us. Yeah, you'd like to have it over with earlier but it just…they came out and played a great game, you know, give that to them. They played their butts off. You know, we expected that. I think it was a good thing for us to kind of go through this, and like last year, going through those close games brought us together and this will help out down the road."
OL CODY WALLACE: (on Jorvorskie's 2-point conversion in OT) "I know when I looked up it looked like a long 3 yards to get. Definitely a great thing to have Jorvorskie. That popped in my head. I'm glad we got this guy. But, yeah, I mean, three yards is still a long away. The defense came us with everything they got."
QB STEPHEN McGEE: (on the exhausting nature of the game) "Yeah. The thing was to come back with the victory. Nothing else needs to be said. This is a team, and on days like this I'm just so thankful to be an Aggie. To be able to lineup with those guys next to me and for our head coach, all he does and pours into this program. I don't think you can look at the game today and talk about Xs and Os…when it came down to it came down to who wants it. It was a gut game and I'm just so thankful to be a part of this team and have teammates and just know how I feel about these guys and how much I love them. It's a special deal for us."
(on the heart and character the team showed) "Offensively I know we kind of put our defense in some tough situations. We didn't move the ball how we wanted to. When it came down to it, with six minutes left in the game, our offense responded whenever we needed to and the defense made the play whenever they needed to. And Fresno State is a great team. They're very athletic and (if you) let them get in the game like we did today they're going to be able to react and be explosive and we just responded to that, handling the adversity like we did today. I'm just so proud of all the guys.
"I'm so tired of hearing 'run game' and all this bull crap. When it comes down to it we're a team. You do whatever it takes to win and today we did that. That's what it comes down to, is getting the ball in the end zone. All that other bull crap…whenever we lined up, we did whatever it took to win the game and we did that. And offensively we ran the ball every freaking time and they did not stop it. That's what we were about, getting the ball in the end zone."
(on the physical nature of the game) "They had some good hits on me. I'm feeling them now. It's not about how I feel. You go to that locker room right now and all those guys are dead exhausted and they don't have anything else left to give right now. But just they dug inside and played for the guy on the left and right and that's what we have been about all year long. We kept fighting. We got dinged up. Guys are tired, fatigued…not just me. Everybody. We just found a way to get the win."
DB ALTON DIXON: (on the play of the defense and the goal-line fumble) "I think everybody played on defense today, they played a hell of a game today and that right there--that probably explains a lot of Aggie spirit, the hope and faith that we have in each other and the guys on offense and guys on defense. They were definitely doing that, knocking the ball out, picking that ball up and recovering it. It speaks a whole lot for us."
RB JORVORSKIE LANE: (on whether or not this is a "dream game" for a running back) "It's every running back's dream. I give my o-line all the credit for my touchdowns. They did a great job."
(on being stopped at the line and continuing for the first down) "I didn't see the first defender, but that's what the condition is there for. That's why we lift all the weights. (Offensive Coordinator Les) Koenning always puts in my mind that the first man can't bring me down, so that's what I did on the line. I was fatigued, but that's what summer conditioning is for. Other than that I just continue to do what I do."
K MATT SZYMANSKI: (on coming back and making the kicks after missing a few) "I just had to stay focused throughout the game, and Coach Fran had enough faith to put me out there and I wasn't going to let him down again."
LB MARK DODGE: (on feeling like he was in a war) "Yes. I do. That was definitely a hard fought war. They came to play that second half and we had to fight and fight and fight and luckily it turned out. There's a lot of guys on defense that refuse to lose and we came out (on top) today."
(on leading the team in tackles) "(That's what) linebackers are supposed to do, make tackles. We have a great defensive line in front of us and they do a tremendous job of taking on blockers. They are big and physical and those guys do everything. I give them every credit for every tackle. No doubt."
(on changing the style of play late in the game) "No. I mean, we blitzed a lot today. We were trying to bring a lot of pressure and we had guys just playing so hard that they were getting in there and flushing them and that just comes with the game, you know."
HEAD COACH DENNIS FRANCHIONE: "I don't know where to start. Just first off let me say, what a tremendous amount of heart and fight and competitors by both teams. Fresno State's guys and our guys -- our guys just continued to fight. Sometimes against some difficult odds. We had some leaders out there on the field. That's just what we preached all along. That was certainly a win because -- as much as mental toughness, physical toughness, you know -- you get into an overtime game and they score and defensively you're going right back. You all know how hot it was today and how draining it was and (as the) defense you're going back. Offense you're going back right now. And if they just scored on you you got to forget about it and play the next play, be tough physically and be ready to go. I can't say enough about our guys and how they fought, how proud I am of them. Fresno State is a team that's hard to beat and we found a way to do it."
(on the crowd) "This 12th Man and the student body was unbelievable today. If we go down to play on one end, they go all the way down there. We play at the other end, they all go down there. I have never seen anything like it in my life. The 12th Man is the most awesome tradition in all of college football. Unbelievable. I cannot say enough about them."
(on the long review in overtime) "I challenged it. One way or the other. I don't know if it was an official challenge. You know, I still have questions about that play. The referee told me it was a loose ball, and I said 'Then it has to be either a fumble or incomplete pass if it's a loose ball. There's no other loose ball, right?' I don't know of any other kind. So he said, 'Well that's all they told me upstairs was it's a loose ball.' It can't be. Finally that got cleared up…and in no way, shape or form am I trying to sound critical of the officiating. That was a tough call. I have had that crew before. Mike Rhoades and those guys. I used to be in the WAC. They're good officials. That was a hard game to officiate. No way am I trying to blame anything or say anything negative, just that it was a difficult game in a lot of ways and a lot of things that were hard to sort out at times."
(on pounding the ball on the ground) "We went into the game thinking there were a couple of schemes, couple of things that we thought they would have trouble defending; and we were right. And we utilized those plays a lot. I think J-Train carried it 23 times; is that right? Mike carried it 23 times. I don't know how many times Stephen carried it. Those guys -- they were the bread and butter today and the way to get it done, and heaven knows we've got to throw the ball better. We all know that."
(on the team's attitude late in the game) "I don't know what it looked like to y'all but I never saw a guy get down. Saw him play the next play and keep fighting. There were a couple of times that the odds didn't look real good for us and we kept going. I saw guys that were laying on the ground after playing all the snaps they played and exhausted and drained, thirsty and dehydrated and they had to get back up and go back down to the 25-yard line and keep playing. I just - tremendous fight. I don't think there was any great X and O coaching job today. There was a great job of young men who have been given the charge to have those kind of ingredients to win games today and they had it today."
(on having another game with so many momentum swings) "There's got to be an easier way to make a living, huh? No. I don't -- I'm sure there has been. That one had about as many as you can think of. I mean, you know, every -- every serious every play went with a lot of physical and mental challenges and -- you know, it'll be interesting for both teams to come back from that game physically and mentally and put that behind us and it's early in the season. We all have to. But that was a drainer right there."