Tide bend but don’t break against Aggies
Top-ranked team staves off rally, stays undefeated
COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M had made a habit of second-half comebacks through the first half of the season.
Alabama cares nothing about opponent’s habits.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide defeated A&M 27-19 on Saturday night at Kyle Field before 101,058 fans, many of whom hung thin hopes on the Aggies previously turning secondhalf deficits into late leads.
This time, Alabama (6-0, 3-0), which had defeated its two previous Southeastern Conference opponents by a combined score of 125-3, didn’t let a 21-point third quarter lead slip away, although the Aggies did everything they could to make it happen.
“It’s tough, just to know that if a couple of more things would have went your way, you would have had a closer shot to win the game,” A&M receiver Christian Kirk said. Higher-caliber foe
Alabama, however, is not Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas or South Carolina — and save for perhaps No. 2 Clemson — no one is close to Alabama halfway through the regular season.
A&M entered the game nearly four-touchdown underdogs, but eclipsed the 26½-point spread by 18½ points.
The Aggies easily played Alabama closer than anyone this season, with the prior closest game 24-7 over Florida State in the opener.
“There’s no moral victory,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “When you play that hard and play that long, no one is happy (in the locker room).”
The Aggies (4-2, 2-1 SEC) can note they created the Crimson Tide’s first turnover of the season, when receiver Robert Foster fumbled after a catch in the third quarter, and A&M took over at Alabama’s 36yard line.
That A&M drive led to a wild 2-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Kellen Mond to Kirk, in which Mond offered up his best twisting, turning impression of 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Mond eluded one Alabama defender after another prior to connecting with Kirk, who managed to skim a foot on the edge of the grass in stretching out for the catch.
Not long after, Kyle Field got as loud as it has been all year early in the fourth quarter when Cullen Gillaspia, who wears the cherished No. 12 at the home of the 12th Man, blocked a punt in the end zone for a safety, tightening Alabama’s lead to 24-12.
The Crimson Tide held tight from then on, as Alabama’s Andy Pappanastos added a 44-yard field goal with 2:09 remaining, and Mond scored from a yard out with 17 seconds left.
The Crimson Tide recovered the onsides kick and collectively exhaled. Saban unhappy
Alabama hasn’t lost since falling to Clemson on the final play of last season’s national championship game.
“We were ahead 24-3, and we didn’t finish the game,” said an irate Alabama coach Nick Saban, referring to glowing earlyseason articles about his team as “rat poison.”
A&M led ever-so-briefly early, after Daniel LaCamera connected on a careerlong field-goal kick of 52 yards to lift the Aggies to a 3-0 lead five minutes into the game. Thirteen seconds later, however, Alabama running back Damien Harris broke through the A&M defense for a 75yard touchdown run, and the Crimson Tide never trailed again.
“They capitalized on a couple of plays where we lost our gap,” A&M defensive end Landis Durham said. “Other than a couple of big runs they had, we did a pretty good job of (filling the gap).” Upset bid foiled
That was A&M’s last gasp at toppling a topranked team for the third time in history, with the last time Manziel leading the way five years ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Aggies will lick their wounds from their most rugged game of the season and prepare for their first true SEC road game next weekend at Florida.
Mond finished 19-of-29 for 237 yards with a touchdown pass and interception, and his Alabama counterpart Jalen Hurts of Channelview finished 13-of-22 for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Harris led all rushers with 124 yards, while A&M’s leading rusher was Trayveon Williams (38 yards).
“He wants to be great,” Kirk said of the perpetually budding Mond. “He wants to be the leader of this team.
“He wants to win.”
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, left, rushes for a first down as Texas A&M defensive back Derrick Tucker gives chase during the second quarter Saturday night.
Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond scrambles away from pressure in the first half Saturday night at Kyle Field. Mond averaged a yard per carry.