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Texas A&M Loses Heartbreaker to No.1 Alabama

Sports

Haynes King #13 of the Texas A&M Aggies looks to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half at Bryant Denny Stadium on October 08, 2022 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. | Image by Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

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The Texas A&M Aggies finished just two yards short of a stunning upset against the No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide, falling 24-20 Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Trailing with no timeouts and 110 seconds remaining, Texas A&M (3-3, 1-2 SEC) marched 69 yards down the field in ten plays, with a pass interference penalty against Alabama (6-0, 3-0) giving the Aggies the ball on the 2-yard line with three seconds left.

However, Haynes King’s pass to Evan Stewart fell incomplete as time expired, and unlike a season ago, when A&M won on a field goal as time expired, the Aggies could not complete an unexpected upset over a top-ranked Alabama team.

Stewart, a freshman from Frisco Liberty, helped get A&M in position for the win with a leaping 23-yard grab earlier in the drive.

“It was a good read,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We just didn’t get it executed on what we needed to do. The decision was right on where we were going and what we did.”

The Aggies may have pulled the upset, but the same offensive struggles that have plagued A&M all season long were prevalent again on Saturday.

King, who made the start for an injured Max Johnson, was sacked three times and pressured more than a dozen other times. King threw for 253 yards, but he needed 46 passing attempts to achieve that yardage total and completed just 25 of them with two touchdowns and one interception.

A&M averaged less than five yards per play as it struggled to get anything going in the run game, totaling just 70 yards rushing as a team.

The Aggies’ two touchdowns came in the first half off of two fumbles by Alabama sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe. The fumbles gave A&M short fields, and they capitalized with touchdown passes from King to Moose Muhammad III and Donovan Green, respectively, and the game was tied 14-14 at halftime.

But A&M was otherwise unable to sustain much offensive success, with two second-half field goals accounting for its final scores. Despite the loss, the performance is arguably still the best of the Aggies’ so far disappointing season.

“There’s no such thing as moral victories but it did show what we’re capable of and how we can play and the things we can do,” Fisher said. “Hopefully, this will give us some vision, what we can be and what we can do.”

Alabama needed that defensive effort because of its offensive struggles, turning the ball over four times. Will Reichard missed two second-half field goals as 10 of Alabama’s drives failed to end with points.

The Tide were without Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, who missed the game after spraining the AC joint in his right throwing shoulder in a Week 5 win against Arkansas.

Milroe struggled as his replacement, completing 12-of-19 passes for 111 yards with three touchdowns but turning the ball over three times with an interception to go with his two fumbles.

Running back Jase McClellan also lost a fumble, marking the most turnovers Alabama has committed in a game since 2015 against Ole Miss.

Because of their struggles passing the ball, the Tide relied heavily on the run game rushing for 288 yards, led by Jahmyr Gibbs, who rushed 21 times for 154 yards, and Milroe, who had 83 yards himself.

The Crimson Tide outgained the visiting Aggies 399-323.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said his team’s performance was not “winning football,” adding that everyone needed to play better, not just their second-string quarterback.

“Jalen did some good things, but obviously a couple of turnovers,” Saban said. “But he’s going to live and learn. And we’re going to live and learn with him.”

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