COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Gatorade poured onto Ed Orgeron’s head had already begun to dry by the time one of the longest games in football history finally came to an end.
His Tigers has seemingly clinched victory twice only to have official reviews give new life to Texas A&M. That’s not to mention a fourth-and-18 conversion or the touchdown pass as time expired to force overtime as the game-that-wouldn’t-end barreled deeper into the Texas night.
A wild victory and LSU’s first 10-win regular season since 2011 were so close Orgeron literally tasted the celebratory Gatorade shower. Instead LSU was left wondering what the hell just happened after Texas A&M pulled off an inexplicable 74-72 win in seventh overtime at Kyle Field on Saturday night.
LSU scored to begin the overtime on a Joe Burrow touchdown run, but the required two-point try was unsuccessful. The Aggies then tied it on a touchdown pass and converted a walk-off two-point conversion, causing the fans who stayed to pour out onto the field.
“Probably the game of the century,” said safety Grant Delpit, who appeared to seal the game late in regulation with an interception. After further review, officials determined that Kellen Mond’s knee had touched the ground before he threw the interception.
“We played our hearts out. We could have ended the game a lot of times. Made some plays, but it’s a tough game.”
The seven overtimes tied both Southeastern Conference and Division I records for the longest games in college football history. All seven overtimes were filled with dramatic twists and turns, but Orgeron made it abundantly clear that he didn’t think the game should have extended beyond regulation.
Texas A&M, given second life by the overturned interception, was driving for the tying score in the final minute. Mond completed a pass to the LSU 19-yard line and the clock stopped with three seconds left as the officials reset the change.
Once the ball was made ready for play, Mond spiked it as the clock ran out. LSU began celebrating for the second time, but after another review, the officials put one second back on the clock. That allowed Mond to force overtime with a 19-yard touchdown as regulation expired.
“These guys should have won 10 games,” Orgeron said. “That second shouldn’t have been put on the clock. I just feel bad for those young men. That second shouldn’t have been put on the clock, and I’m sticking to that.”
“We’ve been told with 3 seconds left, you can’t kill it. They tried to kill it, the clock went down to zero. Why they put another one second left on the clock, remains to be seen. That one second, in my opinion, should’ve never been put up.”
That controversial call is only one of countless unbelievable moments through the course of the five-plus-hour game. The game, which went to overtime tied 31-31, had its fair share of wild turns before it even got to the extra sessions.
Texas A&M led 17-7 in the first half only to see LSU rally back and tied the game. LSU had all the momentum until Jonathan Giles muffed a punt, which set Texas A&M up for the go-ahead touchdown on a short field.
LSU seemed out of sorts at that point, and Texas A&M was driving to put the game away. Momentum then swung again when Devin White stripped running back Trayveon Williams. Mike Divinity scooped the fumble up and ran it back for a game-tying touchdown, and before long LSU took the lead.
“I don’t think you can (make sense of that game),” tight end Foster Moreau said. “It’s a matter of execution and being one play away. I’m really proud of my team and I’m really proud of the way we fought. I just wish we could have finished the right way.”
This all set the stage for the unbridled chaos of overtime.
LSU had to settle for a 50-yard field goal from Cole Tracy in its first possessions. Texas A&M appeared on the verge of victory, but a resilient goal-line stand kept the Aggies out of the end zone and extended the game. Both teams scored prompt touchdowns in the second overtime.
Starting in the third overtime, both teams are required to go for two after touchdowns. LSU appeared on the verge of victory until Kendrick Rodgers hauled in a juggling touchdown grab from Mond and then caught the two-point conversion.
Both sides traded chip shot field goals in the fourth overtime. LSU struck first in the fifth overtime on a halfback pass from Clyde Edwards-Helaire to fullback Tory Carter for a touchdown. That seemed like the knockout blow, but Mond again found Rodgers to keep the game going.
Building on that momentum, Mond hit Jace Sternberger for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of the sixth overtime. LSU dusted itself off and scored four plays later on a Burrow touchdown run — his second of the night — and did it again to begin the seventh overtime.
The quarterback carried 29 times for 100 yards on the ground. He threw for 270 yards with three more touchdowns to boot as LSU became the first team to ever score 70 points and lose.
“It’s tough, but I feel like we were all ready to keep playing,” center Lloyd Cushenberry said. “We weren’t tired or anything. It was a crazy ending, but I feel like we could have kept going.”
However, as well as he played, all Burrow could do was watch as Texas A&M got the ball back down six. A 17-yard touchdown pass tied the game, and after penalties were called against both sides, Mond finally threw the winning two-point pass to end it.
It was a brutal ending to what has been at times a magical season for LSU. The Sugar Bowl is probably out of reach after this loss, but a New Year’s Six bowl big could still be in play.