Tagovailoa Continues to Shine as No. 1 Alabama Football Handles No. 22 Texas A&M, 45-23
The No. 1 Alabama football team (4-0, 2-0 SEC) beat No. 22 Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1) by a score of 45-23 in front of a capacity crowd of 101,821 Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the Tide on offense with a career-best five touchdowns, four passing and one rushing. He threw for a career-high 387 yards on 22-of-30 passing. The completions and attempts are also new career highs. His four touchdown passes equal his previous career high. His passing yardage total also ties for the fifth-best performance in school history.
Alabama had three players with 70-plus receiving yards, including sophomore wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, (84 yards and a touchdown), sophomore wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (78 yards) and junior tight end Irv Smith Jr. (74 yards). Senior tight end Hale Hentges had two catches for 29 yards with both going for touchdowns. On the ground, senior Damien Harris led the way with 52 yards on seven carries.
On defense, the Crimson Tide came away with seven sacks, led by senior defensive end Isaiah Buggs, who finished the game with three sacks and seven tackles. Sophomore linebacker Dylan Moses led the Tide with nine total tackles, including five solo.
On the second play from scrimmage, Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond dropped back to pass and threw over the middle where junior linebacker Mack Wilson used a diving effort to intercept the pass at the A&M 30-yard line.
Alabama only needed one play to find the end zone when Tagovailoa connected with sophomore receiver DeVonta Smith who dove for an amazing 30-yard touchdown grab. Following redshirt freshman Joseph Bulovas’ kick, Alabama led 7-0 with 14:10 left on the clock in the first quarter.
Later in the first, Texas A&M responded with a 15-yard touchdown throw, capping an eight-play, 99-yard drive, tying the game at 7-7 with 4:55 on the clock.
The Tide had an answer on the ensuing drive, going 75 yards in nine plays, finishing off with Tagovailoa running in untouched from one yard out. After the Bulovas extra point, Alabama led 14-7 with 45 seconds left in the first.
In the second quarter, Texas A&M trimmed the Alabama lead to 14-10 after Seth Small converted a 52-yard field goal attempt with 8:50 remaining before halftime.
Alabama once again had an answer for the Aggies’ score, when Tagovailoa found Hentges for a 23-yard pitch-and-catch to complete the six-play, 75-yard drive. Bulovas’ extra point was true and the Tide led 21-10 with 6:50 left in the second quarter.
On the next Texas A&M drive, the Aggies marched 60 yards in eight plays which led to a field goal that cut the Alabama lead to 21-13 with 3:24 on the clock.
The back-and-forth scoring continued with Tagovailoa accounting for his fourth touchdown of the game when he found Hentges again, this time from six yards out. After the Bulovas extra point, the Tide held the 28-13 advantage with 1:09 left in the first half.
With under a minute to go, freshman defensive back Patrick Surtain II snagged his first-career interception at the UA 40-yard line, returning it 20 yards. An A&M personal foul on the interception put the ball on the Texas A&M 45-yard line with 19 seconds on the clock. After two plays, Bulovas knocked in a 47-yard field goal as time expired and gave Alabama the 31-13 lead at the break.
The Tide offense picked up right where it left off in the second half as Tagovailoa guided UA all the way down the field for a seven play 80-yard drive, capped off by junior running back Josh Jacobs going in untouched from three yards out. With Bulovas’ kick, the Crimson Tide led 38-13 with 10:03 to go in the third.
On the next A&M drive, the Aggies used 10 plays to go 67 yards that was finished off with a 25-yard field goal to make it 38-16 with 5:33 remaining in the quarter.
It only took Alabama two plays to go 92 yards after Damien Harris rumbled down the right side for 35 yards and Ruggs III took a shovel pass to the house for a 57-yard score. Following the Bulovas kick, the Tide held the 45-16 advantage with 2:01 left in the third.
Texas A&M closed the gap with an 11-play, 88-yard drive that culminated in the Aggies touchdown with 7:36 left in the game, putting the score at a 45-23 final.
Alabama returns home on Saturday, Sept. 29, for a non-conference game against Louisiana at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff between the Crimson Tide and Ragin’ Cajuns is set for 11 a.m. CT with the game airing live on the SEC Network.