TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In a game that stayed tight into the third quarter, the No. 1-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team (8-0-0 overall, 5-0 in Southeastern Conference play) used yet another defensive touchdown to break things open against No. 6 Texas A&M (6-1-0, 4-1-0), winning the game 33-14 on a picture-perfect afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium in front of a capacity crowd of 101,821 fans.
Tide freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 164 yards while completing 15 of 25 attempts for two touchdowns with two interceptions. Sophomore running back Damien Harris led all rushers with 125 yards on 18 attempts while Hurts gained 93 yards and a touchdown on 21 rushes. Senior tight end O.J. Howard led all receivers with eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown while wide receiver ArDarius Stewart had 57 receiving yards and receiver Calvin Ridley had 27 yards and a touchdown.
A&M quarterback Trevor Knight completed 14 passes on 31 attempts for 164 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Junior running back Keith Ford led A&M with 62 yards. Wide receivers Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds both hauled in touchdowns for the Aggies, with Kirk gaining 58 yards through the air on nine catches while Reynolds pulled in 27 yards on two receptions.
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster led the Tide defense with 12 tackles, including eight solo stops. Alabama had five sacks for 50 yards on the day, with 11 tackles for loss for minus-74 yards. Linebacker Tim Williams had two sacks for 27 yards and linebacker Ryan Anderson had three tackles for loss for 12 yards.
After starting the game with a six-yard pass from Hurts to Howard, Alabama went to its ground game for the next five plays, starting with a 30-yard pickup by running back Damien Harris that advanced the Tide to Aggie 41-yard line. From there Hurts rushed for 17 yards, and running back Josh Jacobs ran for eight and then four yards. Two rushes by Hurts that lost yardage and an incomplete pass, all from inside the A&M 15-yard line, brought on placekicker Adam Griffith, who hit a 32-yard field goal to give Alabama a 3-0 lead with 11:57 left in the first quarter.
On A&M’s first drive, the Aggies rushed for a yard and then completed an 11-yard pass from Knight to wide receiver Christian Kirk before the Tide defense forced two incompletions and an eight-yard sack back to the Aggie 25 to bring out the punting unit.
On its second offensive series, Alabama again moved quickly down the field before another Griffith field goal, this time from 28 yards out. Starting on its own 27-yard line, Hurts hit Ridley for a pair of nine-yard receptions and Harris rushed twice for 19 yards in the first four plays of the drive. Jacobs then rushed twice for 10 yards and caught an 11-yard pass from Hurts to push Alabama to the Aggie 20-yard line. Harris rushed for six-yards to the Aggie 15 before Alabama bogged down and the kicking unit came out and pushed the Alabama lead to 6-0 with 4:43 left in the first quarter.
A&M moved the ball 19 yards on three rushes after starting its second drive from its 14-yard line. Running back Trayveon Williams gained nine yards on two rushes to start the drive before Knight picked up a first down to the Aggie 31 with an eight-yard gain. After Williams rushed for a five-yard loss to make it second and 15, Knight passed 13 yards to Kirk, reaching the Aggie 39 before Tide safety Hootie Jones made the stop, making it third and two. Williams was stopped by Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen for no gain, forcing fourth down and bringing out the punt team.
After a 53-yard punt by A&M, Alabama went to work on its 12-yard line. A pass interference call on the Aggies to start the series made it first-and-10 on the 28. Three consecutive rushes by running back Bo Scarbrough moved the ball to the 38. The third carry resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Alabama at its own 35 and ended the quarter.
Alabama rushed for 96 yards on 15 attempts in the opening period while Hurts was 5-of-8 in passing for 33 yards. The Aggies ran seven times for five yards in the first quarter and had three receptions on five attempts for 20 yards.
Hurts ran for six yards to open the second quarter before tossing a 14-yard pass to Howard, taking the ball to the Aggie 45. Harris then ripped off a 30-yard run to take the ball to the A&M 15-yard line. Hurts then ran the ball nine yards to the Aggie six-yard line. Harris rushed for a yard before Hurts’ pass to Howard went for five yards and a touchdown. Griffith’s point-after attempt was true and Alabama led 13-0 with 12:59 left in the first half.
Starting on his own 17-yard line, Aggie running back Keith Ford ran for 12 yards and then caught a 21-yard pass from Knight to move the Aggies to the 50-yard line. Two Knight-to-Kirk passes for 15 yards put the ball on the UA 35-yard line. Three more pass plays from Knight to Kirk failed to gain a first down, resulting in another A&M punt.
Five rushes and an incomplete pass on Alabama’s next drive resulted in the Tide’s first punt of the day with JK Scott booming one 59 yards, followed by a 10-yard return by Kirk and a 19-yard illegal block penalty on the Aggies. That put the ball on A&M 22 to start the next drive.
The A&M drive resulted in the Aggies’ first three-and-out of the game which was followed by the first turnover of the game when Hurts’ third-down pass was picked off by A&M middle linebacker Claude George, setting the Aggies up on their own 34 after George’s return lost 26 yards. A&M strong safety Donovan Wilson was called for targeting during the interception return, moving the ball back to the A&M 34. On the next play, Tide cornerback Marlon Humphrey picked off Knight for the game’s second consecutive turnover, giving Alabama the ball on the UA 25.
After losing a yard on a first-down rush, Hurts found wide receiver ArDarius Stewart for 46 yards to the A&M 30-yard line. After a five-yard false start penalty, Hurts threw 21 yards to Howard for another first down at the Aggies’ 14-yard line. After two rushes by Jacobs netted two yards and incompletion, Griffith came on to attempt a 29-yard field goal which was wide right and no good.
A&M got on the scoreboard on its next drive. Ford rushed for 19 yards on four attempts to the UA 36 before Knight ran 27 yards to the UA nine-yard line. From there, Knight hit wide receiver Josh Reynolds for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Daniel LaCamera’s point-after attempt was good and Alabama’s lead went to 13-7 with 31 seconds left in the half.
Tide defensive end Dakota Ball returned the ensuing kickoff 16 yards to the UA 38. After Jacobs rushed for no gain on first down, Hurts threw for 12 yards to Stewart and a combined 15 yards to Howard on two consecutive throws, moving the ball to the Aggie 35. A five-yard false start penalty moved the ball back to the Aggie 40 and, after a series of timeouts, Hurts’ deep throw with five seconds left in the half was intercepted in the end zone by Aggie strong safety Justin Evans to end the half.
Alabama ended the half with 157 rushing yards on 29 attempts and 146 receiving yards. Hurts had 12 completions on 20 attempts for one touchdown with two interceptions. A&M had 65 yards rushing on 16 attempts while throwing for 85 yards. Knight had nine completions on 17 attempts and one touchdown with one interception.
The Aggies came out running in the second half. Ford ran twice for 19 yards to start the third quarter and, after an incompletion and a false start penalty, Knight rushed twice for eight yards. Knight then went to the air, hitting wide receiver Jeremy Tabuyo for 33 yards to the UA 25-yard line. Knight then threw for 25 yards to Kirk for the Aggies’ second touchdown. LaCamera’s extra-point attempt was good and the Aggies took a 14-13 lead with 12:54 left in the third quarter.
Alabama answered A&M with a touchdown of its own on the next possession. Stewart returned the kickoff to the 23-yard line. After getting sacked for five yards on the first play of the drive, Hurts passed 11 yards to Howard and then ran for five yards and the first down. Three straight incompletions would have brought up fourth down, but a roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Shaan Washington brought about a first down at the UA 49. From there, Harris ran for five and Hurts went for two before throwing the ball for five yards to Ridley for the first down. Hurts ran for five and Harris ran twice for 13 yards to get the ball the Aggie 21. Hurts then raced 19 yards to the A&M two-yard line before losing two yards back the four. From there, Hurts hit Ridley in the right flat for a touchdown. Griffith’s extra point was good and Alabama was back on top, 20-14.
The two teams traded punts, giving A&M the ball back with 2:39 left in the third quarter. On the sixth play of the drive, Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson caused a fumble by Ford that was recovered by defensive end Jonathan Allen, who rumbled 30 yards for a touchdown. Alabama’s two-point conversion attempt failed and the Tide led, 26-14, with 21 seconds left in the third quarter. It was Alabama’s fourth consecutive game with a defensive touchdown and its 10th with a non-offensive touchdown.
Alabama gained 39 yards rushing on 12 attempts in the third quarter while Hurts had three completions on five attempts for 20 yards. A&M rushed 11 times, also for 39 yards, in the third while Knight completed three passes on six attempts for 56 yards.
Knight was sacked for a 12-yard loss to start the fourth quarter and the Aggies would punt two plays later. Alabama struck quickly for its fourth touchdown of the day. Starting on the Aggies’ 47-yard line, Hurts ran for eight yards and Harris picked up two more for the first down before Hurts slashed 37 yards for a touchdown. Griffith’s extra point split the uprights and Alabama led, 33-14, with 12:17 left in the game.
Both teams turned the ball over on downs in the next three possessions, bringing the clock to 1:47 left in the game. On the final possession of the game, Scarbrough rushed five consecutive plays, picking up 28 yards to close out the contest.
Alabama is off next Saturday before returning to action on Saturday, Nov. 5, taking on the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.