SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes wasn't deterred with his team trailing Texas A&M by 23 points at halftime on Saturday night.
He believed they could win.
And these scrappy Bulldogs almost did.
Johnny Manziel accounted for six touchdowns, including two to fend off a late rally, and No. 22 Texas A&M held on for a 59-57 win over 23rd-ranked Louisiana Tech to hand the Bulldogs their first loss.
Louisiana Tech mounted a furious second half rally capped by a 13-yard touchdown reception by Ray Holley to cut the lead to two points with 38 seconds left. But Colby Cameron's throw to Quinton Patton fell incomplete and the Aggies had the win.
"I just didn't make a good pass," Cameron said. "It was on me. I needed to give (Patton) a chance to compete for the ball and I didn't."
Dykes told his team at halftime that they simply had to make more plays in the second half to get back into the game.
"Our guys did exactly that," Dykes said. "It's a shame we couldn't make a play right there at the end of the game."
Louisiana Tech had cut the lead to 2 earlier in the fourth quarter before Manziel answered with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Johnson to extend the lead to 53-44 with seven minutes left.
Texas A&M forced a punt and Manziel scored on a 72-yard run with about two minutes left and the kick failed.
The Bulldogs wouldn't go away though, and Quinton Patton scored on a 62-yard reception seconds later. They then recovered an onside kick which led to their last touchdown.
"I was proud of the way they fought," Dykes said. "But we came here to win. There are no moral victories here."
Manziel ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 395 yards and three more scores. These teams entered the game averaging more than 1,000 yards between them, and as Saturday night crept into early Sunday morning, they outdid even those outlandish standards.
A&M finished with 678 yards of offense and Louisiana Tech had 615. Tech's output is even more impressive considering the offense sputtered in the first quarter and had just 33 yards.
"We just didn't get off to a very good start obviously," Dykes said. "We had a hard time getting into a rhythm early. I think we were probably a little nervous. We had a hard time adjusting to Manziel's speed."