COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Let’s get ready to fumble.
In the first half of Saturday night’s game at Kyle Field, Alabama forced a season-high three fumbles against Texas A&M. Two were recovered, which also set a new benchmark.
The fun stopped in the second half, but Alabama still held on to win, 27-19.
“I guess my biggest disappointment would be, and I shared this with the team so it’s no secret, we were ahead 24-3 in the game, and we didn’t finish the game,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “That’s not how good teams play.”
Shaun Dion Hamilton caused the first fumble of the night, and fellow linebacker Rashaan Evans picked it up. Then, Joshua Frazier stripped another during the second quarter, and fellow Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis scooped it up.
Neither was returned for yards.
The Texas A&M fumble that was not recovered by Alabama actually happened during a kickoff return, so it wasn’t the defense. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick punched it out of Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk’s hold, and another Aggie got to it before the Crimson Tide could swoop in.
“We don’t count those,” Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne said. “We really want the ball back.”
So, enter Fitzpatrick – again.
The Aggies had 10 yards separating them from a touchdown. Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond shot for the end zone, and Fitzpatrick picked off the pass.
As a team, Alabama has had at least one interception every game so far. That was Fitzpatrick’s first. He had six last year.
“We just really want to emphasize getting the ball out,” Evans said. “Any time we can get any type of turnover is a good thing.”
Going into halftime, Texas A&M’s only points had come from a field goal.
Then, the third quarter happened.
Texas A&M’s offense took the field with 6:50 on the clock. It left with 1:39. The Aggies crawled their way down the field until taking a giant leap with a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Damion Ratley that brought them to the Alabama 3-yard line. After a couple of plays with little or no gain and a false-start penalty, Texas A&M drew up its second fourth down of the drive. It found success on the first, so it went for it again.
Once Mond got the ball, he scrambled, eluded multiple tackles and tossed up a 2-yard pass to Kirk, who made a stellar falling catch in the end zone.
It was the first touchdown scored against Alabama since Colorado State on Sept. 16. Neither of the two SEC teams before Texas A&M was able to.
And it didn’t stop there.
With 17 seconds left in the game, Mond ran one more in for the Aggies from a yard out.
“One of the things we didn’t do a good job of was finishing on the quarterback,” Saban said. “He made two touchdowns on scramble players where we should have had the guy sacked.”
Alabama defensive back Tony Brown sprained his knee and will be day-to-day, Saban updated afterward.