The top-ranked University of Alabama football team used a powerful rushing attack and stout defense to defeat Texas A&M, 27-19, Saturday night at Kyle Field.
The Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) outgained the Aggies (4-2, 2-1 SEC) 232-71 on the ground in the win. On the defensive side of the ball, the Alabama forced three A&M turnovers.
Junior running back Damien Harris led Alabama’s rushing attack with a game-high 124 yards, including a career-long 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Harris eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time this season and fifth time in his career. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts finished the game with 56 yards on 14 carries and a score on the ground, while going 13-of-22 for 123 yards and a score through the air
On defense, junior defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs led the team with a career-high 10 tackles, while junior defensive back Ronnie Harrison and sophomore defensive lineman Raekwon Davis each finished with eight tackles. Junior defensive standout Minkah Fitzpatrick finished with five tackles to go along with an interception and forced fumble.
The two teams traded punts to begin the game before Texas A&M got on the scoreboard first, gaining 36 yards on five plays, capped by a 52-yard field goal, taking the early 3-0 lead with 9:59 left in the opening quarter.
On the next play from scrimmage, Harris doubled back through a hole at the line and sprinted 75 yards to the end zone to put the Tide on top 13 seconds after the Aggies took the lead. Alabama led 7-3 after Harris’ career-long touchdown run and junior placekicker Andy Pappanastos’ extra point with 9:46 left in the first quarter.
Following a punt apiece from each team, Texas A&M controlled the ball at their own 43-yard line, when Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond scrambled for five yards before senior linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton and Fitzpatrick converged on Mond and forced a fumble that was recovered by senior linebacker Rashaan Evans at the A&M 46-yard line.
Alabama came up empty on the drive, while forcing an Aggie three-and-out on the next possession.
After an Alabama missed field goal, the Crimson Tide defense stood tall and forced another Texas A&M punt. On the fifth play of the UA drive, Hurts found open space with his feet, streaking 38 yards to set up a Pappanastos 34-yard field goal attempt later in the drive. The 12-play, 75-yard drive, ended with Pappanastos’ field goal, putting the Tide up 10-3 with 5:41 to play in the half.
On the ensuing Aggie drive, senior defensive lineman Joshua Frazier ripped the ball away from Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams. The fumble was recovered by Davis at the A&M 43-yard line.
The Crimson Tide offense took advantage of the turnover, rumbling 43 yards down the field, capped off by Hurts’ one-yard touchdown run. After the Pappanastos extra point, the Tide led 17-3 with 3:16 left in the first half.
Alabama opened up the second half by converting a big third down play, when Hurts found junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley, for a 30-yard pickup that was moved further day field by a personal foul by the A&M defense to set up the Tide with first down at the Texas A&M 24-yard line. Later in the drive, junior running back Bo Scarbrough converted a crucial fourth-and-one to keep the Tide offense on the field. Two plays later, Hurts found freshman wide receiver Henry Ruggs III wide open for the eight-yard pitch-and-catch. Ruggs’ third touchdown of the year on his third reception of the season, put the Tide up 24-3, after Pappanastos’ kick, with 11:01 left in the third quarter.
Following an Alabama fumble at its own 36-yard line, its first turnover in 37 quarters of play, dating back to Nov. 26, 2016 against Auburn, Texas A&M scored a three-yard touchdown throw on fourth down to trim the Tide lead to 24-10 with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, a short Alabama punt gave the Texas A&M offense the ball at its own 46-yard line and made its way all the way down to the UA 10-yard line before Fitzpatrick slid in front of the Aggie receiver, picking the ball off at the UA one-yard line, keeping the score at 24-10 with 11:45 remaining in the game.
The Tide offense was unable to move the ball off of its own goal line, setting up a punt from its own end zone, which was blocked out of the back of the end zone for an Aggies safety, trimming the Alabama advantage to 24-12 with 10:18 left in the game.
After the safety, the Tide defense forced an Aggies punt while the offense answered by driving 52 yards on 10 plays to set up Pappanastos, who converted a 44-yard field goal attempt to extend the Alabama lead to 27-12 with 2:09 remaining in the game.
Texas A&M responded with a one-yard touchdown run to cap a seven play 64-yard drive that narrowed the margin to 27-19 with 17 seconds left in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Fitzpatrick recovered the Aggies’ onside kick attempt and returned it 39 yards to the A&M 12-yard line to seal the win.
Alabama returns to action at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 14, against Arkansas for the Crimson Tide’s Homecoming game. The time of the game has yet to be announced.