Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 9/8/12
COLLEGE STATION, Texas The Texas A&M Aggies changed conferences, head coaches, uniforms and starting quarterbacks after a disappointing 2011 season. What they couldn't change was their inability to execute in the second half. That was on display Saturday in front of 87,114 at Kyle Field and the rest of the county in a nationally televised game in the SEC coming-out party for the Aggies. After an outstanding first half against Florida, the Aggies bumbled and stumbled in the second half as the Gators rallied for a 20-17 victory. Texas A&M lost six times last season and had second-half leads in five of those games. They are a very unhappy 0-for-1 in 2012 in games in which they've had a second-half lead as they try to shake off last season. "It's embarrassing," senior linebacker Sean Porter said. "We shouldn't lose games like that. We shouldn't lose games because of mental mistakes. We talked about that all summer. It's embarrassing." While Porter may have been embarrassed, it was the defense who kept the Aggies in the game in the second game. Texas A&M dominated every statistic in the first half but led the 24th-ranked Gators just 17-10. It kept that lead until Florida running back Mike Gillislee tiptoed down the sideline for a 12-yard touchdown with 13:05 remaining in the game. Meanwhile, the Aggies were able to muster almost no offense in the second half. A&M went three-and-out on its first two possessions of the half before registering a first down on the third trip. That play ended up being costly, as the Aggies were called for a personal foul. Three plays later, they were punting again. The Aggies had 269 yards, 17 first downs and five penalties for 37 yards by halftime. While former head coach Mike Sherman may be gone now, the second-half blues played again under Kevin Sumlin's leadership. A&M managed just four first downs and 65 yards in the second half. The Aggies also killed themselves with penalties, finishing the game with nine for 78 and giving Florida three of its 21 first downs via penalty. Sumlin talked about the second-half woes from last year being the elephant in the room when he took over as head coach. Apparently, the elephant is still taking up some space in College Station. "There are no excuses," said Sumlin. "In any game like that where things are that close, execution becomes key. We didn't make enough plays to win the game, and Florida did. They made the plays at the end of the second half to win the game." Behind redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, the Aggies gave their fans everything they wanted in the first half. Manziel was solid with his arm (16 of 20) and his legs. His 11-yard run early in the second quarter put the Aggies up 10-7. Christine Michael followed with a 1-yard run with 7:01 remaining in the half and it was a 17-7 lead. The tide may have started to turn late in the half. Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 51-yard field-goal try, but the Gators got a second chance because Sumlin called a timeout to try to ice him. Sturgis responded by making it a 17-10 game with 1:49 left. He added another field goal on the first possession of the second half. The Aggies had no answer, though. Manziel threw for just 32 yards in the second half, as the Gators pressured him more. A&M also couldn't establish any running game after intermission, netting just 33 yards and getting 101 in the first half. "They were fast, and they had a good defense," said A&M receiver Ryan Swope, who was limited to 16 yards on five catches. "We came out in the first half and felt good, felt confident. What it really came down to in the second half is just doing your job. Coach (Sumlin) talked about that all week. If we do our job, do our assignment, win the game. I think we beat ourselves. We had some penalties and basically just missed assignments. We've just got to stay positive." The defense gave the Aggies reasons to stay positive. A&M sacked Florida's Jeff Driskel eight times Saturday. But when it needed to make a stop in the fourth quarter, it didn't happen. Florida needed just one minute, 14 seconds for its game-winning drive. The big play was a 39-yard pass to Omarius Hines, who beat Steven Campbell. A&M's attempt to answer that score was a three-and-out. The Aggies defense stiffened on the next drive, but once again the Aggies couldn't muster a first down on their next possession. A&M did move to its 41 on the final possession, but a penalty pushed the Aggies back and they had to punt the ball away, giving the Gators back the ball with 3:13 remaining at their own 14. A 15-yard penalty against Damontre Moore, who had three of the Aggies' sacks, started that possession for the Gators, and the Aggies never got the ball back. "Florida did an excellent job in the second half," Sumlin said. "We didn't make enough plays in the second half to be effective offensively, and penalties also got us behind the chains. Those are things we have to address, we've been addressing. That point was not taken. We talked about that after the game, and we've got to spend more time on us, doing the things we need to do to win a game."
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