No. 1 Alabama escapes Texas A&M on road

By Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 7, 2017 at 11:45 PM
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It was not flashy, and at times it was not even pretty for top-ranked Alabama, but the Crimson Tide notched another SEC road win, this time at Texas A&M.

Alabama staked itself to a three-touchdown lead in the third quarter and staved off an Aggies comeback attempt to claim a 27-19 victory on Saturday night at Kyle Field.

The Aggies threatened to turn a momentum boost in the fourth quarter into a dramatic upset when walk-on linebacker Cullen Gillaspia blocked a punt in the Crimson Tide end zone with a little more than 10 minutes left.

The ball rolled out of bounds for a safety and Texas A&M had cut Alabama's lead to 24-12.

However, the Crimson Tide defense came up with the deciding plays on the Aggies' ensuing possession.

Alabama defensive end Quinnen Williams and linebacker LaBryan Ray each sacked Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond for a combined 18 yards, squashing the Aggies' chance to build on their momentum.

The Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) sacked Mond four times in all and won the turnover battle 3-1 paving the way for the win.

The Alabama offense successfully ran more than four minutes off the clock late in the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 52-yard drive. Kicker Andy Pappanastos capped it with a 44-yard field goal that put the Crimson Tide ahead by 15 points with 2:09 left.

Mond ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 17 seconds remaining, but Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered the ensuing onside kick for Alabama.

Alabama had not committed a turnover all season until Texas A&M defensive back Debione Renfro jarred the ball loose from the grip of Crimson Tide wide receiver Robert Foster midway through the third quarter. Defensive back DeShawn Capers-Smith recovered for Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1), setting up the Aggies offense at the Alabama 36.

It took Texas A&M eight plays to score, but the Aggies cashed in on the turnover when Mond threw to wide receiver Christian Kirk, who hauled in the pass in the end zone while dragging a foot inbounds.

Kirk's touchdown cut Alabama's lead to 24-10 with 1:39 left in the third quarter.

Texas A&M briefly took the lead in the first quarter when running back Trayveon Williams caught a short pass from Mond and turned it into a 31-yard gain to the Alabama 39.

The Crimson Tide defense stood its ground there before the Aggies' Daniel LaCamera nailed a career-high 52-yard field goal.

Alabama trailed for only 13 seconds.

On the Crimson Tide's next offensive play, running back Damien Harris made a jump cut to his right at the line of scrimmage and burst into open field. Harris ran away from the Texas A&M defense for a 75-yard touchdown that gave Alabama a 7-3 lead with 9:46 left in the first quarter.

Alabama reeled off 17 unanswered points to finish the first half.

Pappanastos booted a 34-yard field goal and quarterback Jalen Hurts scored on a 1-yard run, following blockers on a sweep to his right and tip-toeing inside the pylon.

Alabama recovered a pair of Texas A&M fumbles in the first half, keeping the Aggies from establishing much offensive momentum.

Harris led the Crimson Tide with 119 rushing yards on seven carries in the first half, when Alabama outgained Texas A&M 245-146 in total yards.

Harris finished with 124 yards while Hurts was 13 of 22 for 123 yards.

NOTES: Alabama has a five-game winning streak versus Texas A&M and an 8-2 lead in the series. Texas A&M has never won a home game versus the Crimson Tide as the Aggies defeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2012 and in the 1968 Cotton Bowl in Dallas. ... Alabama's 36-quarter streak without a turnover came to an end in the third period when it committed its first turnover of the season in the third quarter. ... Texas A&M is 2-13 all-time record versus top-ranked opponents. The Aggies last defeated a No. 1 team when they knocked off the Crimson Tide 29-24 in 2012.

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