COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Say hello to the LSU defense, Johnny Manziel.
Jeremy Hill rushed for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown, and the sixth-ranked Tigers controlled Texas A&M’s dual-threat quarterback to rally and beat the 20th-ranked Aggies, 24-19, at Kyle Field on Saturday.
Michael Ford had a touchdown run and Zach Mettenberger threw a TD pass to Kadron Boone for the Tigers (7-1, 3-1 SEC), who scored 21 points off
A&M (5-2, 2-2) outplayed the Tigers for much of the first half and led, 12-0. LSU converted two A&M miscues into touchdowns just before halftime, and Boone’s diving catch in the end zone with 11 seconds left put the Tigers up, 14-12.
Manziel, the SEC’s leader in total offense, completed 29 of 56 passes for 276 yards and also threw three interceptions. He was also the league’s leading rusher coming in, and was held to 27 yards on 17 carries.
‘‘Defense just had to get their feet set and understand what was going on,’’ LSU coach Les Miles said.
A&M started strong, taking a 6-0 lead on Christine Michael’s short touchdown run. LSU hadn’t given up a first-quarter score in four games.
LSU went three-and-out on its initial series, and the defense looked a step slow again when A&M got the ball back. Manziel got plenty of protection from the offensive line and threaded a 21-yard pass to Mike Evans for a first down at the LSU 34. Taylor Bertolet kicked a 32-yard field goal to put A&M up, 9-0.
LSU got the kick-start it needed when cornerback Jalen Collins intercepted Manziel at the LSU 39. Ford gained 13 yards on fourth and 1, then raced 20 yards down the sideline for the Tigers’ first TD with 1:49 left before halftime.
Ben Malena fumbled at the A&M 41 with just over a minute left in the half. The Aggies looked as if they might escape, but Boone’s over-the-shoulder catch took away momentum.
Mettenberger went 5 for 16 and the Tigers mustered only 147 yards in the first half. The Aggies amassed 256 yards in the first half — 45 more than LSU allowed in a 23-21 win over South Carolina last week.
LSU started a drive early in the fourth quarter with eight straight running plays, gaining at least 5 yards on seven of them. Hill ran 18 yards up the middle to the 9 before Jarvis Landry lost yardage on a pass by Mettenberger toward the sideline, and Drew Alleman’s 28-yard field goal put LSU up, 17-12, with 8:35 remaining.
Trey Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the LSU 16. Linebacker Kevin Minter nearly sacked Manziel on second down and Manziel’s throw to Uzoma Nwachukwu fell incomplete on third down. Bertolet shanked a 33-yard attempt and LSU regained possession with 7:28 left.
Tharold Simon put it away when he intercepted Manziel’s pass and returned it to the A&M 46.