Damien Harris looked like he set the tone early on for Alabama in its 27-19. One play after allowing a field goal, Harris took a hand off from Jalen Hurts, cut back to the middle of the offensive line and was off to the races for a career long 75-yard touchdown run.
“It was a great moment because we were able to get points on the board for the offense,” Harris said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it from a personal standpoint. The line did a great job opening up a big hole.”
Harris’ run was the only offense in the first quarter, as the Crimson Tide only gained nine yards besides the run.
The Crimson Tide exploded in the second quarter, running for 112 more yards and passing for 49 more. Hurts punched in a touchdown and Andy Pappanastos added a field goal to take a 14-point lead in the half.
Alabama hit a wall after scoring on an eight-yard touchdown reception from Henry Ruggs its first drive in the second half.
The big blow came on third and 12 following Ruggs’ touchdown. Hurts dropped back and threw a strike to Robert Foster. Foster tried to turn up field, but was stripped of the ball by Debione Renfro on Alabama’s 36-yard line. The turnover was Alabama’s first of the season, and first in its last 36 quarters.
The Crimson Tide managed just eight plays and nine yards in its remaining two drives in the third quarter, and held the ball for just 2:40, compared to Texas A&M who held it for 8:29.
“My biggest disappointment would be, we were ahead 24-3 and we didn’t finish,” coach Nick Saban said. “That’s not how good teams play. We want to prove that we can be a fourth quarter team, and play in a tough game in a tough environment, but we couldn’t… We are able to (finish), but we didn’t.”
Texas A&M put pressure on Hurts all night, getting to him three times for sacks, and finishing with two quarterback hurries. The Aggies also finished with nine tackles for loss.
“They were moving, brought a lot of blitz, just little things we need to fix this week,” Bradley Bozeman said.
Alabama finished with 355 yards, led by Harris, who finished with 124 yards and a touchdown. Hurts finished with 56 rushing yards, 123 passing yards and two touchdowns. Calvin Ridley led the team 68 receiving yards.
According to Saban, Ridley had a thigh bruise, but will be fine moving forward.
This was Alabama’s closest game of the season by far. The Crimson Tide won its previous five games by an average of 37.6 points per game.
“We needed this test,” Harris said. “Not every game is going to be like that (previous five games). The farther we go into our schedule, the harder we know it’s going to get. I don’t think we were complacent, I think it was just a test, playing on the road against a great SEC opponent. They played great offense, defense and special teams.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports