Recapping a 26-20 loss for Texas A&M football vs. Alabama
Texas A&M football started off the biggest game yet in their season with three straight runs. Amari Daniels and Max Johnson alternated their carries before an underneath pass to Moose Muhammad got the Aggies down within the 30 of Alabama. A 3rd and 1 deep within Alabama territory turned into a 4th and 1, and an aggressive call by the Alabama defense blew up the play action fake. This marked the first time that the Aggies failed to score on their initial drive all year.
Alabama committed a false start on their first play, immediately putting themselves behind the chains. The 1st and 15 was a run for no gain, as the Aggie front stoned the Bama OL. The next play was a modest gain on the ground, but set up a long 3rd down for the Tide. Jalen Milroe was sacked by Edgerrin Cooper on third down, and Alabama’s ensuing punt failed to travel very far, setting up the Aggies in great position.
Two straight Max runs set up a 3rd and 4, at which point Johnson placed a beautiful pass right in the bucket to Evan Stewart that put Texas A&M football eight yards away from the end zone. Two more runs didn’t yield much against the Alabama front, and some pressure on third down forced an errant pass to an open Ainias Smith in the end zone. Randy Bond’s field goal was good, putting the Aggies up 3-0.
After a decent return, Alabama started their drive at the 30. Another first down run went nowhere, putting the Tide in second and long. A second down deep shot to Jermaine Burton connected, though, moving Alabama down into Aggie territory. They only gained four yards on the next three plays, however, after a third down PBU by Josh DeBerry. Will Reichard’s kick was good, evening the score at 3.
The Aggies were unable to move the ball well enough on the next series, ending up with a three-and-out. The Tide tested Texas A&M football deep once more on first down, but DeBerry held strong once more. The swarming Aggie defense knocked the Tide rush attempt back on second down for a short loss, setting up a long third down once more. This time, Milroe converted to Burton, who was covered by DeBerry—an early storyline was developing in that matchup. After a false start moved the Tide backwards again, the Aggies took Milroe down for a loss on a designed keeper.
After the quarter break, the Tide once again came out throwing deep, converting on a long ball to Isaiah Bond for a 52-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 10-3. Max matched that strategy on the first play of the Aggie drive, going deep to Ainias Smith for a chunk play. Just like that, the Aggies were across the 50 and into Alabama territory. A modest gain on first down preceded a second down sack, setting up a 3rd and 13. A three-man pressure got home to Max, and he gave Ainias a chance on a low throw right at the sticks that fell incomplete. Constantinou’s punt made its way down to the 16, setting the Tide up with a long field to work with.
Alabama’s rush game continued to struggle, moving nowhere on first down. A short second down pass to Burton set up a manageable third down for the Tide—but not for long. A false start by Elijah Pritchett moved the Tide back into 3rd and 8. A Fadil Diggs sack and ensuing unsportsmanlike on Alabama pushed the Tide further back. However, an electric return by Ainias Smith—once again off a muffed catch—set Texas A&M football up right outside the red zone. A great design set up a tight end throwback pass to Jake Johnson—the second between the brothers this season—and the score was tied at 10.
Two incomplete passes by Milroe set up 3rd and 10 for the Tide once more. That quickly became 3rd and 15 after yet another false start. A great blitz call by Durkin resulted in a third down sack, and the Aggies took over at midfield. A near-miss on a long ball to Moose came on first down, and the Aggies ended up inching forward thanks to a pass interference call against Alabama. Another long third down came up, and Max Johnson delivered a first-down strike to Moose, and a toss play to Le’Veon Moss moved the Aggies down inside the red zone. Another Moss carry brought the Aggies to 3rd and 5. Alabama brought a blitz, but Max operated well under pressure, delivering a strike to Ainias at the two. The next play saw Le’Veon carry the ball into the end zone, putting the Aggies up 17-10 with under 5 minutes to go.
The first two plays of the drive for Alabama were both passes to Jermaine Burton—and both for first downs. The next series went nowhere, though, and Milroe took his fourth sack of the game on third down. After the punt, the Aggies ran only one play before the clock ran out, bringing the game to halftime. Alabama had -13 rushing yards at the break.
The Tide opened the half with another decent return, out across the 30. Milroe connected on underneath routes for his first four passes, getting the ball out quickly against the ferocious pass rush from the Aggies. Not well enough, though, as Edgerrin Cooper came blazing off the edge on a first down play for a sack-fumble—his fifth sack of the game—that moved the Tide back 9 yards. The noise from the 12th Man was too much for Alabama on the next play, forcing a timeout as the clock ran down. Coming out of the break, you could see that Milroe was looking for another deep pass, and this time Bryce Anderson read it perfectly, intercepting the Tide QB for the first turnover of the game.
Texas A&M football would give it right back, though, as pressure in the face of Max Johnson forced a throw that hung in the air for just a bit too long, resulting in freshman safety Caleb Downs picking him off. Jase McClellan made a nice move in the backfield to avoid Edgerrin Cooper, and put the Tide in positive rushing yardage for the game on a 15-yard run. Another McClellan run and a completion to Isaiah Bond put the Tide just outside the 10. The Aggies moved the Tide back four yards, but on 3rd and 14, Milroe placed the ball in exactly the right spot to Jermaine Burton, tying the game at 17.
The responding drive by the Aggies started off promisingly, with several successful plays back to back—including some tough running by Le’Veon Moss. A false start put the Aggies in 1st and 15 right behind midfield, though—but another good run by Le’Veon Moss and a diving catch by Evan Stewart set the Aggies up for a 3rd and short. Hesitation behind the line cost the Aggies the chance to convert, and the Aggies punted.
The Tide moved quickly down the field and were in the red zone within three plays. Burton once again got past DeBerry on a double move, and Milroe connected on a 45-yarder. Once down in the red zone, Milroe connected on a short pass to Jermaine Burton that the latter took into the end zone, making the score 24-17 Tide. After the kickoff, a seven-yard run by Max Johnson took the game to the fourth quarter with Texas A&M football trailing by seven.
It looked like the Aggies were cooked on a long third down, but Max—pressure in his face—delivered the ball to Moss, who made a heroic effort to get the first down. The next series, though, saw a couple of errors, as a pass from Johnson was broken up by a referee, and a long pass on third down was broken up by another Alabama player. The Aggies again punted, and Alabama had the ball inside their own 15 with about 12 minutes to go.
On the second play of the drive, Milroe completed a pass to Jermaine Burton (again!) who tried to get more yardage. This would cost him, as Demani Richardson punched the ball out and Bryce Anderson recovered, setting up the Aggies deep within Alabama territory. After a second-down sack, though, Texas A&M football was unable to pick up the first down and was forced into a field goal try. The attempt was blocked and returned, but it was cut short by a blindside block during the return, setting up Alabama at their own 37. Milroe converted on a first down pass, but three false starts and an incompletion set up a very long third down play. Alabama decided to just hand it off on 3rd and 23, and they gained only one yard. Ainias Smith caught the ball at the 15, Texas A&M football now taking possession down 7 with only 6:41 left in the game. However, two straight pressures resulted in disaster for the Aggies, as the Alabama front forced a safety to go up 26-17.
Time was starting to tick down on the clock at this point, with Alabama taking possession with 5:48 left and up by two scores. The defense forced a three-and-out, though, and the Aggies would get the ball back with 3:37 left in the game and all their timeouts. Two big penalties on two plays moved the Aggies across midfield, and then an underneath pass to Ainias Smith was taken down to right outside the end zone (following a review, as it was initially called a touchdown). A first-down incompletion stopped the clock with just over three minutes to go in the game. A second-down play got into the end zone, but a hold on Noah Thomas moved the Aggies back to the 12. Johnson took a sack on second down, but a pass to his brother got them back inside the 2. It was fourth down, however, so the Aggies took the points with a Randy Bond field goal. The score was now 26-20, with Texas A&M football still having 2 timeouts.
The Aggies attempted an onside kick but could not convert, so the Tide took over just past midfield. Two runs didn’t yield much, but a scramble play on third down led to a conversion. Milroe confusingly passed the ball very quickly afterwards, stopping the clock with 1:36 to go. This meant that the Aggies could still have been mathematically alive, but Milroe was able to get a pass off high enough on 4th down with 7 seconds left to run the clock out. The game ended, 26-20.