COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide once again set the scoring bar too high for an opponent to reach — but did it with special teams as well as offense in a 47-28 win over No. 24 Texas A&M on Saturday.
Alabama had 448 yards of total offense — not an exorbitant total by the Crimson Tide’s 2019 standards — but added 311 return yards, including 100-yard days for Henry Ruggs III (kickoffs) and Jaylen Waddle (punts) as well as a blocked punt by Ale Kaho that ended up as an Alabama touchdown.
“I thought we played hard today but there are still some things we need to work on,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We shot ourselves in the foot three times in the red zone — an interception and two field goals. That happened at a critical time in the game when we could have put them away. And we didn’t really finish the game with class.
“We did have 300 yards in returns and the way I do math, every 100 yards is worth six points.”
The Aggies opened the game with an impressive touchdown march, mixing the pass and the run and overcoming a 15-yard penalty that erased one touchdown to score on a 1-yard run by quarterback Kellen Mond.
The Crimson Tide answered with two quick first-quarter touchdowns as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw touchdown passes of 31 yards to Waddle and 47 yards to DeVonta Smith. The teams then exchanged field goals before Tagovailoa threw his third touchdown pass, a 16-yarder to Najee Harris.
Alabama finally put the game away on Tagovailoa’s fourth touchdown pass, a 2-yard run by Brian Robinson Jr. and Tyrell Shavers’ recovery of Kaho’s blocked punt in the end zone.
Tagovailoa completed 21 of 34 passes for 293 yards and four scores, although he also threw his first interception of the year. Najee Harris gained 104 yards on 17 carries and Terrell Lewis added two sacks for the Crimson Tide defense.
“They took advantage of all three phases of the game and that’s why they’re No. 1,” Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I thought we had opportunities to get back in the game (in the second half) but that’s where we’ve got to push through in those situations.
“Their special teams were great, they kept winning the field position battle.”
The win gave Saban an 18-0 record against his former assistants in head coaching. He will look for the 19th straight win in that streak next Saturday as Alabama (6-0, 3-0) hosts Tennessee.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt.
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