COLLEGE STATION, Texas — For more than 132 minutes of clock time, a span that covered one game and parts of two others, LSU’s offense couldn’t find the end zone to save its life.
But when LSU absolutely had to have it, late in the first half of Thursday night’s game with Texas A&M, the Tigers’ struggles suddenly ended against the Southeastern Conference’s 14th-ranked defense.
Two touchdowns in 3 minutes, 59 seconds, including a thunderous 22-yard scoring run by running back Leonard Fournette, helped LSU take a 14-7 lead and the Tigers went on to a 23-17 victory over Texas A&M.
The two quick scores matched the number of touchdowns the Tigers had in their past three Southeastern Conference games combined.
Trailing 7-0 after Texas A&M scored on a 41-yard run by Trey Williams on its second possession, LSU’s offense, which suffered a 17-0 shutout at Arkansas in its last game, came up empty on its first three possessions (and threw an inerception that led to A&M’s 7-0 lead).
That’s when the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Fournette seemed to wake the Tigers up on the fourth play of their fourth drive.
After a 19-yard run on a jet sweep by wide receiver Travin Dural moved the ball to the Texas A&M 27, Fournette had a 5-yard run to set up the play that breathed some life into his offense.
Fournette burst through a gaping hole in Texas A&M’s defensive line and ran directly at Aggies senior safety Howard Matthews, who was squared up at the 12-yard line ready to make the tackle on the freshman.
Fournette plowed straight into Matthews, who weighs 210 pounds, and put him on his back before continuing on to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:33 to play in the second period.
“It felt great,” Fournette said of the collision. “My coach kept telling me to try and make one person miss. I tried to the best of my ability to make him miss.”
When asked how he would have tackled his prized freshman, LSU coach Les Miles chuckled and said, “I would get out of his way. … I would tackle him low and away.”
Before that, LSU’s last touchdown came on a 14-yard pass from Anthony Jennings to Malachi Dupre with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter of the Alabama game on Nov. 8.
That was just a start, however.
On their next possession, the Tigers drove 73 yards in nine plays to another touchdown. This one came on a 10-yard pass from Jennings to a wide-open John Diarse after he and a Texas A&M defender got tangled up.
From there, the Tigers, who scored only 23 points in their last three games against Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas, made it work with a pair of field goals by Trent Domingue and one by Colby Delahoussaye.
It didn’t look good early when LSU’s first three possessions ended with a Jennings interception, a missed 22-yard field goal by Delahoussaye and a punt.
That’s when Fournette, who went on to pile up a career-high 146 yards on 19 carries with a 46-yard run in the fourth quarter, came through after netting just 9 yards on five carries in the 17-0 loss at Arkansas.
“That game wasn’t meant for me,” he said. “Everybody has their bad games. We practiced hard this week, and it paid off.”
LSU rushed for a season-high 384 yards against Texas A&M, which ranked 13th in the SEC going into the game. It was the most rushing yards this season against the Aggies, who gave up 363 yards to Auburn.
Like Fournette, Jennings had a career-high with 127 rushing yards on 14 carries. Terrence Magee added 74 yards on 17 attempts and Dural got into the act with 49 yards on four jet sweeps.
On LSU’s second touchdown drive, Jennings’ legs produced back-to-back first downs with a 36-yard run and 10-yard dash to set up the score three plays later.
“The offensive line did a great job of run blocking,” Jennings said. “We made great reads.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.