COLLEGE STATION - Kellen Mond walked onto Kyle Field with confidence with a minute left and the No. 2 team in the country on the ropes.
Mond and the Aggies have been working to build a consistent routine since Jimbo Fisher took the job in December, and Saturday night was a step in the right direction.
The sophomore quarterback connected with Kendrick Rogers on a 24-yard touchdown with less than a minutes remaining, but the Aggies fell short on the two-point conversion attempt and lost to No. 2 Clemson 28-26.
"It's just something that becomes natural for us and we did a good job diving down," Mond said. "Guys did a great job making plays, but we were just one play short and those small details matter the most."
Mond set a new career-high with 430 yards passing and three touchdowns, completing 23 of 40 passes.
"Man, that guy's a competitor," Fisher said. "He's a guy that will lay it all out there. The guys love him and follow him and they made some big plays for him. The moment was not too big for it and I loved it."
Clemson's Kelly Bryant threw for 205 yards and a touchdown, while Trevor Lawrence had 93 passing yards and a score. Tee Higgins led the Tigers' receivers with three receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. Bryant rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown.
A&M scored early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to one possession, and the Aggies defense shut down Clemson for the most part. Quartney Davis dove for the pylon with just over two minutes left and the officials ruled it a touchback.
After a short review, they confirmed the call.
Fisher let the officials know he disagreed as more than 100,000 fans chanted his name.
"We can't whine over calls," he said. "That's ball."
Rogers finished with 120 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns, his first scores with the Aggies. A&M combined to 71 yards one week after the second-best rushing performance in school history.
"One day doesn't answer the question," Fisher said. "It's got to be consistent over a long period of time. I know it's in there and I know they're competitive, but now we've got to line up and do it again next week. We've got to make it a culture of who we are. It's there and they know it's there."
Daniel LaCamera rebounded from an earlier missed field goal by nailing a 40-yard kick in the first quarter. Clemson responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Bryant.
Lawrence relieved Bryant in the second quarter and threw a touchdown on his first pass, helped by an acrobatic catch and run from Higgins.
Every time the Aggies cut into the lead for early in the second half, the Tigers responded, first with a Diondre Overton touchdown with five mounts left in the third quarter and again when Travis Etienne scored with just over a minute left in the third.
A&M out-gained the Tigers 199-52 in the fourth quarter and held them to just a pair of first downs.
"This shows we can be a force to be reckoned with and we're just laying the foundation," offensive lineman Erik McCoy said. "I feel like we're going to have a great program this year."
The Aggies host Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday at 6 p.m. before beginning SEC plays with back-to-back road games against No. 1 Alabama and Arkansas.
"I think you see the team we (could) have and I think they do too," Fisher said. "There's no doubt it hurts because you see how close you were to beating the No. 2 team in the country. We'll learn to get over that hump and be that team."