Enough was enough for the LSU defense Saturday night.
After being rolled for 1,306 yards, 99 points and 12 touchdowns in their previous three games — all double-digit losses — the Tigers rose up on an emotional night and played lights out in their regular-season finale against Texas A&M.
With coach Les Miles’ job possibly hanging in the balance, LSU’s defense limited Texas A&M to 250 total yards and had four sacks and forced two turnovers (the Tigers’ special teams got the other) in a 19-7 victory in Tiger Stadium.
Texas A&M ran 64 plays and averaged 3.9 yards per snap after LSU gave up 6.5 yards per play during its losing streak.
The Aggies gained 89 rushing yards, averaging a scant 2.7 yards per attempt, and had 161 yards passing as the Tigers dominated for most of the evening with its most complete performance of the season.
“It wasn’t anything different,” LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White said. “We took the same approach for this game that we do every week.”
The results, however, were vastly different.
The total yards and points allowed were season-lows for LSU. They held Eastern Michigan to 255 yards Oct. 3 and limited Mississippi State to 19 points in the Tigers’ season opener back Sept. 19.
“It was a blessing,” Tigers linebacker Kendell Beckwith said shortly after Athletic Director Joe Alleva announced Miles would continue as LSU’s head coach. “We went out and played one of our most complete games this year. It was great to get that bad taste out of our mouth.”
The only points LSU gave up were on an 80-yard drive for Texas A&M on its third possession after the Tigers defense set the tone with a pair of three-and-outs while the offense gave them a shaky 6-0 lead.
Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen, who was shaken up twice in the game, completed a 47-yard pass to Josh Reynolds to move the ball to the LSU 18 before hitting Ricky Seals-Jones for an 8-yard touchdown on third-and-goal with 3:26 left in the opening quarter.
But that was it for A&M as the LSU defense stood tall.
“We just buckled down this week,” said linebacker Deion Jones, who led LSU with 11 tackles and had a half-sack. “We made a lot of mental mistakes the last three weeks that cost us. The seniors and key players on this defense, pretty much everybody, take pride in our defense.”
Jones said the effort had everything to do with what the Tigers didn’t do the last three weeks.
“We couldn’t let that get in the way of what we had to do,” Jones said. “It was personal for this defense. We had to buckle down and get it done. We just took heed of what coach (defensive coordinator Kevin Steele) told us all week.”
A&M managed 82 yards in the first quarter on 13 plays and had but 142 yards at halftime.
In the second half, when the game was still very much in doubt, the Aggies were held to 102 yards as Jones and defensive ends Arden Key and Lewis Neal led the charge.
In addition to Jones’ 11 tackles, Key had eight tackles and 1½ of the Tigers’ four sacks. Neal and Beckwith each had a sack as well.
“We just said we’re the LSU Tigers,” Neal said. “We all said we had to play LSU football.”
Beckwith also forced Allen to fumble with his sack after the Aggies reached the Tigers’ 7-yard line. The ball was recovered by defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, and cornerback Donte Jackson had a fourth-quarter interception for the other takeaway.
Allen was only 15 of 28 for 161 yards, while Jake Hubenak misfired on all three of his attempts to leave A&M with only 15 completions in 31 attempts.
The Tigers also did a solid job getting off the field and giving the ball back to their offense as A&M converted on just 4 of 15 third-down opportunities.
“During the week, a lot of people were saying this game would be won in the trenches,” said LSU defensive tackle Christian LaCouture, who helped carry Miles off the field. “We made sure that it would start with us.
“We came out and limited their big plays. We needed it … we wanted it.”