There’s no way anyone from Aggieland could have expected today’s matchup between #6 Texas A&M and #1 Alabama to end the way it did. The Aggies brought the 12th Man to life in full force today. The Aggie spirit was loud and large as the maroon-out in the stands of Kyle Field and all eyes were filled with hope showed every promise that the Aggies could knock off #1 national champions today. The 12th Man—check. With an exciting emotion-filled home-field advantage and the 2013 Heisman trophy winner at the helm of the Aggie offense, things looked great. Offense—check. All the Aggie defensive players started today, for the first time in three games. Defense—check. But then the No. 1 Crimson Tide brought their A-game and wound up winning by the score of 49 to 42. Checkmate.
The Texas Aggies exploded onto Kyle Field, won the toss and elected to receive. The first touchdown came with 12:21 left in the first quarter. In a no-wait, hurry-up scripted offense featuring the “Johnny scramble” and “Johnny throws strikes” plays, the Aggies set up for the opening score. On a high throw touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Clear, who was wide open in the end zone, the Ags went up 7-0. And the crowd went wild.
The Ags’ Toney Hurd, Jr. stopped the Bama runback short on a great defensive play. On Bama’s first possession, the booming Aggie crowd noise got to be too much and drew a false start, and then there was a subsequent second false start, making it 2nd and 13. The Aggie defense star Toney Hurd again wrapped up the Bama receiver. With 3rd and 11, the Ag defense stopped the Bama running play, and Bama head coach Nick Saban was visibly disgusted over on the sidelines.
In their second possession, Manziel ran like it was his major job to take the Aggies upfield to be able to throw another bomb into the capable hands of Mike Evans. A light lob into the end zone for Evans was not to be had on the first attempt, but Ben Malena bulled it upside down with his hands outstretched to break the plane, for the second touchdown of the game, with 7:47 left in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Alabama leadership looked puzzled rather than disgusted, while Sumlin let loose a smile. Manziel just yelled on the sidelines, “Let’s go!” And the Aggie crowd went wild.
With Bama’s second possession, A.J. McCarron didn’t land his first missile, but managed a second down on the next attempt thanks to good blocking on the right side. McCarron had plenty of time to throw and got another first down with confidence. The play calling was all hand-signals on Bama’s part, because you couldn’t hear anything else. Bama pulled out a 16-yard run after McCarron changed the original play, threw for another first down in the fourth consecutive move-the-chains play. Then, with the total Aggie blitz facing McCarron, he tossed a perfect pass to the super-tall Norwood, the senior, who jumped even higher and brought down a touchdown, bringing the score to 14-7, Aggies.
And the Fightin’ Texas Aggie band played on during the commercial break. Meanwhile on the sidelines, Saban watched, displeased. Aggie Brandon Williams bobbled the kickoff and it went out of bounds at the 2-yard line. First possession, Manziel burst out of the end zone and ran to the 8 yard line. His second play was a tipped pass, but the third was a scramble, with another Evans pass catch and downfield movement across midfield. At this point Manziel was 7 of 9 for 146 yards, and there was still 3 minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Ags managed a first down after an Alabama defender thought he was the 12th man on the field and ran off, leaving 10 men out there. The Bama defensive coach looked about as crimson as the tide’s home game shirts. With all day to throw Manziel threw to Evans, but it was ruled a push off and garnered a 15-yard penalty. Sumlin was calm on the sidelines. Williams tackled Sabian Holmes bringing up 3rd and 26. The Ags drew a 5-yard offensive penalty for offsides, bringing up 3rd and 31. Manziel scrambled but couldn’t get the first down. Manziel’s momentum propelled him into a security guard on the sidelines but helped him back up and patted him on the shoulder, before going back to the game.
Aggies kicked the ball back and Alabama started at their 20. McCarron threw a great pass but the receiver couldn’t hang on. The second pass was not catchable, which brought up 3rd and 10. Cooper, a sophomore, grabbed McCarron’s pass, thanks to great blocking by Yeldon. It almost looked like Bama was going to get tagged for a false start but the refs huddled and decided it was just the end of the first quarter and they’d blown the whistle so “no play.”
McCarron remained calm against the Aggie defense staring him down. Despite the Aggie blitz, Bama got the first down. McCarron handed off and took the pitch-back and let loose with a picture-perfect bomb to reciever White. With the extra point tying the game, all of a sudden, the tempo changed for the Ags.
The AFLAC trivia question was which was the last team to win three consecutive national championships, a question that was on the minds of many Bama players.
Ben Malena ran the first play and Manziel made a toss to Labhart who cradled it. With a Bama defender error, pass interference was ruled, which gave the Ags an automatic first down. The Aggies center Matthews picked up a snap infraction penalty, but Manziel threw two passes to Walker to bring them down to the Bama 37.
With 3rd and 8, Manziel scrambled away from a 275-lb defender who had him by the shirt. Just when it looked like Manziel was headed down to the ground, he bounced back like one of those inflatable dolls you hit and they come back up into action. Manziel then tossed a 45-yard Hail Mary pass for a 12-yard gain. The miracle pass was made by Pope, which put Manziel at 200 passing yards of offense with just 12 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. Malena moved the ball ahead like a bull, while Saban paced on the sidelines.
Manziel found a hole in the middle to get to the 4-yard line. Stunning everyone in Kyle Field and watching on TV, Bama’s Cyrus Jones intercepted the ball intended for (#4) in the end zone. The Aggies were stunned with disbelief, and Saban clapped his hands and moved the other way down the sidelines. There were still 10 minutes to go in the half.
Bama started with a running play but got nowhere. McCarron threw a pass to Howard, who caught the ball and tood it to midfield. With plenty of time to throw, McCarron went incomplete. McCarron then changed directions and threw to Kenny Bell who beat one tackle from the secondary and he was gone for 6 points. With 8:55 to go in the half, Bama went up by 7, leading the Aggies 21-14. By scoring on three straight possessions, Bama came back after being down 14-0. Both sides’ quarterbacks had run for 200 yards for their teams’ offense.
Aggie defense needed a rest. Manziel went to the air on the first play, but HaHa Clinton-Dix went up for the ball, which drew a flag. After the officials discussed it, they came up with a personal foul, garnering Dix a targeting foul and potential ejection. Saban was furious because Dix appeared to touch the ball first, going for the interception. Dix remained calm on the sidelines, but was still in disbelief. Replays from every angle looked like a clear “going for the ball” play.
The 15-yard penalty was not overturned, the referees decided it was not a targeting foul, which brought Dix into the game. The incomplete pass became a 15-yard play and first down. Manziel was sacked for a 4-yard loss on the next play by a fired-up Bama defense. Malena got his catch inside the lines to bring up 3rd down and 6. The Aggies had to punt with 7 minutes in the half. McCarron 1/15 220 passing yards and 14/18 209 passing with Manziel having 61 rushing yards to McCarron’s 0.
Bama’s T. J. Yeldon managed to elude the Aggie defense and get the first down to the 20. Yeldon then broke two more tackles on the next play and went straight up the middle for the next first down at the 32, which caused Sumlin to take a time-out.
McCarron threw for 17 yards and got to midfield. Yeldon broke through the middle for 6 yards, but Toney Hurd was ready for Yeldon the next time he tried to break through. On 3rd and 4, McCarron threw the biggest pass of the first half to the tight end tower, Vogler, who got to the 32. Another short sidearm McCarron pass was caught and then Drake broke through the defensive line again to get to the 20.
The next play found Kenyon Drake breaking through again to set up first and goal at the four. Yeldon drove right to get the touchdown. Yeldon managed to garner a 15-yard penalty for Bama along with the 6 points. Yeldon’s dead ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct was earned for doing the “money sign” and the “double throat slash” after the touchdown.
Emotions were high as this left 40 seconds on the first half clock as Manziel threw to Malcome Kennedy to pick up 6 and then threw to Evans, who managed to get outside with 15 seconds left. Manziel’s next pass to Kennedy went incomplete and left 9 seconds left. The last play of the half was a Manziel scramble and pass to Kennedy but the Alabama defenders swarmed him. Whether or not the Aggies knew, or cared, Saban’s record with Bama is a scary 63-3 in wins when they’re ahead at halftime. Would it be 64-3 or 63-4? Two more quarters would tell.
As the second half opened, Alabama had the ball. Kevin Sumlin said he “had plenty of time to go” and that the Ags would make defensive adjustments and just trying to keep moving the ball forward and get the first downs. “There’s still a lot of time,” said Sumlin.
On their first possession, Alabama ran the ball back to the 35 yard line when McCarron took charge.
McCarron had already thrown for 251 yards, a new career record for the first half than he had in any other game he’d played. On the first play, McCarron misread his receiver and Yeldon didn’t make the first down on the second play. With 3rd and 10, a false start penalty drove the Tide back to the 30, he overthrew Christian Jones, forcing the punt. It was not the strength of the Aggie defense as much as it was McCarron’s lack of execution.
The Aggies returned the punt for 9 yards which set the Ags up at the 35. Manziel scooted for 9 yards and then threw a bom, which was tipped one-handed by Jared Williams into the hands of Vinnie Sunseri, the Alabama safety, who ran 50 yards for the score, with the Bama players blocking for him and then managing to elude two more Aggie defenders, including Johnny Manziel, as he propelled, like he didn’t almost believe it himself, into the end zone. With the extra point good, Bama was up 35-14 in just the first 2 minutes of the second half.
With the kickoff, Gonzalez managed to gain great field position to the 42. Ben Malena picked up the first down and the Ags were on the 47. It looked like Manziel was sure to pass on the next possession but instead sent Malena up the middle to make some headway. The hurry-up offense slowed down, presumably to give the defense a brief respite on the sidelines. Nick Perry blocked a Manziel pass which brought up 3rd and 14.
Manziel threw a pass that wasn’t caught but pass interference gave the Ags the first down.
Tray Carson moved the ball forward on two touches, which brought the Aggies down to
the 15. Manziel threw a touchdown to Malcome Kennedy who ran right into the end zone, making it 35-21. That play ended the 35-consecutive-point range for Bama, with 9:30 left in the 3rd quarter. The Aggie 12th Man didn’t fade, as they waved their towels and yelled like the game had just started.
Alabama’s possession started with a McCarron pass to the left to White for a first down. With plenty of time to look on his next throw, McCarron went to his right for another first down. Then Jalston Fowler went up the middle for 9 yards. Yeldon went up the middle again for 7 yards. Then it was Fowler’s turn again, to take the ball down to the 40. Yeldon got the call then ran up the left side and scrambled out on the 29 for a first down.
The Aggie defense broke through the wall and forced McCarron to throw the ball away. Yeldon used strength to make another first down, then another, just bulling through and breaking tackles, down to the 5 yard line. Fowler then broke right through the middle and garnered their sixth touchdown, making it 42-21 with 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Alabama had driven 83 yards and 93 yards on the ground to go up by three touchdowns.
Manziel had amassed 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions when he went back into battle.
The Aggies took possession and opted to run it. A 5-yard penalty on second down for a false start but Alabama’s defense was determined to back the Aggies into a corner. With 3rd and 9, Manziel aimed but was chased under pressure and missed, forcing the Aggie punt. Alabama took over on their 22 yard line, with 2:47 left in the 3rd quarter.
Alabama drew a false start penalty but Kenyon Drake pulled right for a first down to offset the penalty. Saban still paced on the sidelines, arms folded, watching, watching, and strategizing. On 3rd and 4, McCarron’s pass to Cooper went incomplete, bringing up the 4th quarter of play. The Aggie fans never faltered, waving the white Aggie 12th Man towels and singing the school’s fight song, rocking the stadium with ful Aggie power.
Bama’s punt was almost caught but slipped out of the receiver’s hands and bounced into the end zone. Manziel scrambled over to the sidelines but got horse-collared by Williams and Manziel grabbed William’s face mask and went slammed down on his back. He picked up the first down the next play and almost broke free for a touchdown, moving the ball to the 35. He then threw the ball to Walker and brought the ball down to the 12. Manziel threw a perfect pass to Malcom Kennedy to add another touchdown. The extra point was good and the Aggies got one of three touchdowns needed to tie the game, and the score was 42-28. Manziel was joyful as he exited the field. The 12th Man got even louder.
With 13 minutes left, McCarron took charge. He rolled out on a bootleg and found a first down. McCarron used hand signals and Yeldon wore down the Aggie defense to pick up another first down. The Ags had Yeldon’s number by the third time it was called and stopped him cold. McCarron wasn’t done.
On 2nd and 10, Yeldon went right and a flag was thrown; the Aggies Williams got a weird fould, “continued participation without a helmet. Williams was so fired up he went after Yeldon to try and tackle him, which gave the Aggies the foul, but it sure showed that fighting Texas Aggie spirit. What? I lost my helmet? I don’t care! I’m going after that receiver. The referee had already blown the whistle, though.
Alabama was 2nd and 1 and Yeldon, who was not tired of having his number called, got the first down, surrounded by four Aggie defenders, but his teammates shoved him across the line. Yeldon went up the middle just short of the goal line and slammed the ball down onto the goal line but no touchdown. At the one yard line, three Aggies piled up on Yeldon and the ball popped out, recovered by the Aggies’ DeShawn Washington. The Aggie 12th Man went wild in the stands while Alabama looked stunned at what they’d just seen.
Manziel’s first pass from the end zone went incomplete, but he’d already racked up 308 yards at this point in the game. Manziel ran the ball for 1 yard but the Tide stopped him. With 8:04 left, Manziel threw a touchdown strike to the big man, Mike Evans, for a 95-yard pass. Evans got away from his one would-be tackler and the Aggies pulled to within one touchdown. Evans had 6 catches for 247 yards at this point. And the crowd went absolutely wild, indescribably joyful, filled with hope.
A prekicking foul found Bama starting from their 35-yard-line. Up 42-35, it was Bama’s turn next and they went with Yeldon, the guy who’d just cost them the last touchdown. The subsequent play found Yeldon moving for a second first down, with less than 7 minutes left. McCarron threw under pressure to Vogler, who caught it inside and dropped, which kept the clock running.
Alabama picked up a 5-yard penalty for illegal formation, brining their penalties up to 11 for 99 yards, not a record Saban wanted to achieve. McCarron threw under pressure, down the middle into traffic to find true freshman, O.J. Howard, who snagged it. Game manager McCarron kept the ball running. Fowler pile drove down for a few more yards as the clock moved closer to 4 minutes left.
Yeldon got to first and goal at the 7-yard-line with 3:55 left. McCarron watched the clock. Taking his time on the field, Bama’s field goal kicker warmed up on the sidelines. Yeldon got maybe a yard and then Sumlin took his first time out to stop the clock at 2:34.
At 3rd and goal, Bama did a play action pass as McCarron hit Jalston Fowler as he rolled right for the touchdown to seal the Bama victory. With the extra point good, the score became 49-35, with 2:28 to play. At this point, McCarron (20/29) had 334 yards to Manziel’s 403 (22/31).
Manziel threw to Kennedy for the first down and on the next series, from the 35, he had an expanse of time to throw, but no one to throw to. They ran Ben Malena who only picked up a few, yards so Manziel ran for the first down himself on the next play. With 1:15 to go, Sumlin called his second time out. Manziel threw to his receiver but it was fumbled and recovered, and shuttled it on the next play to Malena who got out of bounds to stop the clock.
Manziel showed he refused to quit by eluding four Alabama players and threw to Mike Evans, who caught the ball and went out on the 4-yard-line. Manziel threw a touchdown pass to Kennedy, who grabbed it easily for the touchdown, and 15 seconds left in the game. That play was so very typical of the never-say-die Aggie spirit. The score was then 49-42 with 15 seconds left. The Crimson Tide band played “Shout” as the Aggies planned for an onside kick. No one had left Kyle Field yet.
Amari Cooper got the onside kick and the clock stopped at 14 seconds. The Aggies had just set a record—the most number of points scored “ever” on Nick Saban. As the clock ticked off the last few seconds, the Crimson Tide players and the Texas Aggies congratulated each other on what has to be the nicest display of sportsmanship ever. Manziel stayed to greet everyone before running back into the tunnel.
A. J. McCarron commended his team and was most gracious and generous about his coaches trusting him on that game-winning touchdown. Nick Saban said, “I believe in my players.” I think he’s a great competitor, just a fantastic job for his team, makes great plays that probably no one else can met. You have to give Texas A&M’s team a lot of credit and you have to give our team some credit, too.” A. J. McCarron is aptly nicknamed, truly, a game manager. McCarron garnered 334 yards passing with four touchdown passes. Manziel finished with 562 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers were unprecedented.
Undoubtedly, the “game of the year” in college football lived up to every expectation and more. The second largest crowd in Kyle Field ever, 87,000+, assembled to fill their role as the 12th Man. Without a doubt, Johnny Manziel made two major touchdown passes that will live long on the rerun reels as “classic Manziel miracle plays.” There’s every reason to expect that the Aggies will continue to march strongly in SEC play the rest of the year.
And for No. 1 Alabama, there’s ever reason to expect they’ll hold on to their No. 1 ranking after their play on the road today in College Station. Two national powerhouses came to Kyle Field to play 60 minutes of the best football of their lives. Aggies never lose, they just get outscored. Gig ‘em Aggies, especially Johnny Manziel, for doing the 12th Man proud.