I’ve witnessed a lot a history making events as a newspaperman, including many in sports, but nothing compares to what I (sort of) witnessed Saturday night at Kyle Field in College Station – The Aggies’ 74-72 win against LSU in seven overtime periods.
I’ll never forget being on the sidelines in 1999 for the Aggie/Longhorn game after the Aggie bonfire collapsed, killing 12 people.
It was surreal that day. It felt like there was no way the Aggies were going to lose that game.
They won in a miracle finish.
There have been other very memorable college games at which I roamed the sidelines.
No game, however, compares, based on “sit on the edge of your seat for an extended length of time” to the crazy one that happened Saturday in Aggieland.
In any given “memorable” game there might be two or three miracle plays that occur, which elevate the game to historic, or at least highly memorable.
Saturday’s seven overtime marathon included at least 10 miracle plays on the part of both teams.
Let me back up a bit.
I said I “sort of” witnessed the game.
This game was special for another reason. My nephew’s wife (a Harvard grad) wanted to experience “Game Day” in Aggieland. They got married in January in New York City and we all flew up to the Big Apple for the occasion.
As sort of a thank you to family members who made the trip, they provided the “tailgate” at which we spent close to five hours (roughly 1 p.m. to game time).
The night before we were at Kyle Field for Midnight Yell Practice so we weren’t necessarily fully energized by the time the game entered the fourth quarter.
I spent the first 1-1/2 quarters on the sidelines, then moved up into the stands (nosebleed section) with 13 other family members.
It was a bit chillier way up there in the wind.
At some point in the third quarter my wife asked if I might consider leaving the game in the middle of the fourth quarter since we were tired and still had to drive home to Rockport that night.
I proceeded to tell her it was a big game, and probably not. I’d be fine driving home.
Late in the fourth quarter our sure-handed running back lost a fumble after a completed pass and it was returned by LSU for six. The extra point gave them a seven-point lead.
Right before the fumble, because it was looking like we were rolling, I told my wife if the Aggies scored then we could leave … after LSU’s next possession.
Then the fumble return for a touchdown occurred.
A short time later, it was I who said, “Well honey, why don’t we go ahead and go and we can catch the last seconds of the game on the Sirius XM SEC channel.
We made our way to the tailgate area (on the south side of Kyle Field) to pick up our stuff, and starting walking east to the media parking lot behind Duncan Dining Hall (dining room for the Corps of Cadets). Aggie bonfire was held at that site many years ago before development on campus went totally nuts.
While walking, still very near the Kyle Field, we heard a semi-loud roar from the Aggie faithful.
It was loud, but not thunderous, so I knew we hadn’t tied the game … but something was happening.
Remembering The Association of Former Students’ Alumni Center has a huge television screen in its lobby airing the game, we ran/walked to it, and made it just in time to watch the touchdown pass on the last play of regulation to send the game into overtime.
That earlier dull roar from the stadium must have been when an interception was reversed because the Aggie’s quarterback was ruled down after muffing the snap from center, prior to the pass.
If that was the only play that led to the Aggies victory, it would have been memorable, but not yet historic.
That reversed call led to a completion on the sidelines, stopping the clock.
Semi-miracle No. 2.
The Aggie’s quarterback then spiked the ball and the game clock showed 00:00.
One second was added to the clock since the snap occurred at about the three-second mark.
Semi-miracle No. 3.
Then, on the last play of the game, a remarkable touchdown grab. The extra point tied the game and the clock officially read 00:00.
Semi-miracle No. 4.
What made the seven overtimes so incredible was the shear number of overtime periods played, as well as the way each period played out with clutch play followed by clutch play, and choke, followed by choke.
One couldn’t have written a more exciting script … and the whole time we were driving home.
I stopped in Caldwell for a pit stop and to get gas. I left the car running just to make sure I didn’t miss any of the action. Between overtimes I ran inside to get my tea and ran out. The clerk was laughing at me, asking, “Listening to the game?”
I gave him an answer as I darted out the door. Didn’t miss any of the action!
The game ended when we were in Giddings, exactly one-hour away from College Station.
At first I was disappointed we didn’t stay and witness history firsthand. However, when we were five miles out of College Station, I was glad we were way ahead of 100.000-plus crazed fans.
In case any of you want a written record of the overtime action, here it is (count the plays that both teams made that were semi-miracles in themselves).
LSU kicks field goal. A&M kicks field goal (34-34). Aggies were inside the five and didn’t score.
A&M scores a touchdown and extra point to take 41-34 lead. LSU scores on fourth down. The extra point ties the game 41-41.
LSU scores on first play. Per rule, teams must attempt two-point conversion beginning in the third overtime. They’re successful and take a 49-41 lead. Kendrick Rogers makes his first of many dramatic receptions, a leaping one-hand grab while his other arm is being held by the defender. He falls to the ground, cradling the ball to his chest. He makes another acrobatic catch for the conversion to knot the score 49-49.
A&M kicks a field goal. LSU kicks a field goal. Score tied 52-52.
LSU scores a touchdown, but misses the conversion. A&M scores a touchdown on a fourth down pass to Rogers, but misses the conversion. Score tied at 58.
A&M scores a touchdown on first play and Rogers catches another pass for the conversion to give the Aggies a 66-58 lead. LSU answers with a touchdown and conversation to knot the score at 66.
LSU scores a touchdown and misses the conversion to lead 72-66. A&M scores, but the LSU defender is flagged for interference, and unsportsmanlike conduct. The ball is placed at the ¾-yard line. False start Aggies. Rogers makes his final fantastic grab to secure the win.
It was a crazy game, one in which both teams deserved to win.
I’m just glad I was there in person … for most of it!
Until next week, have a good week.
Mike Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.