COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M's win over Nicholls State on Saturday night wasn't the lopsided victory many were expecting.
But after squandering a 34-point third-quarter lead in a stunning 45-44 loss to UCLA in their opener last week, coach Kevin Sumlin was proud of what the Aggies did to get the 24-14 victory.
"We were able to do something we didn't do last week which was finishing a football game in the fourth quarter," he said.
Kendall Bussey ran for 97 yards and the go-ahead 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter the lead the Aggies to the win.
The game was tied at 14-all when Bussey bulled into the end zone for A&M's first score since the first quarter with about 7 1/2 minutes left to put the Aggies (1-1) on top.
Nicholls State (1-1), an FCS school which plays in the Southland Conference, challenged the Aggies a week after the Bruins scored 35 straight points to hand Texas A&M the loss.
"When they tied up the game we easily all could have said: 'It's happening again,'" receiver Christian Kirk said. "But we all locked in as a team and went out there and finished."
The Aggies started Kellen Mond at quarterback after Nick Starkel suffered a broken ankle last week, but Jake Hubenak took over early in the third quarter and finished the game. Mond threw for 105 yards and a touchdown and Hubenak added 93 yards passing.
Damion Jeanpiere grabbed a 54-yard reception from Chase Fourcade to get Nicholls State to the 6-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Two plays later he connected with Stephen LeBouef on a 5-yard touchdown pass. LeBouef caught the ball short of the goal line and dragged safety Larry Pryor into the end zone with him for the score.
Fourcade scrambled for several seconds before finding Mason Roberts in the back of the end zone for the 2-point conversion that tied it.
The Aggies punted five straight times after their second touchdown before Daniel LaCamera's 52-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter sailed wide left.
"By no means are we where we need to be," Sumlin said. "In a game like this it really gives our team an opportunity to look at who we are objectively ... it's about fixing ourselves internally."