COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- 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."
The Colonels couldn't move the ball after Bussey's touchdown and had to punt. The Aggies then ran Bussey again and again to eat up the clock before adding a field goal with 18 seconds left.
"We gave them a run at the end but we have to be able to get off the field there on third down," Nicholls State coach Tim Rebowe said.
The Aggies looked good early, and took a 7-0 lead when Mond connected with Kirk on a 27-yard touchdown pass on their first drive. A 17-yard scoring run by Trayveon Williams made it 14-0 with about three minutes left in the first quarter.
"Getting the win's always good whether it's ugly or not," safety Armani Watts said.
Lorran Fonseca made field goals of 37 and 34 yards in the second quarter to get Nicholls State within 14-6 at halftime.
Fourcade threw for 264 yards with a touchdown and an interception and Jeanpiere had five receptions for 174 yards.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies host Louisiana-Lafayette next Saturday in their last tune up before starting Southeastern Conference play against Arkansas on Sept. 23.
THEY SAID IT
Sumlin on the play of his quarterbacks: "There were positives and negatives for both guys ... it's still a work in progress but both of those guys are getting better."
Kirk had six receptions for 47 yards on Saturday to give him 2,047 yards receiving in his three-year career, making him the seventh player in school history to reach 2,000 yards receiving. Kirk had 1,009 yards receiving as a freshman and finished with 928 last year.
NICHOLLS STATE: The team should fare well in the Southland Conference considering what the Colonels did against the Aggies on Saturday night.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies will have to figure out a way to be more consistent and either Mond or Hubenak will have to improve if they hope to have any success when SEC play begins.