COLLEGE STATION, Texas — While the white towels were waving and Kyle Field was shaking, Damien Harris slipped through a hole in the Texas A&M defensive line.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts handed the ball off to the running back, who took off on a career-long 75-yard touchdown with 9:46 left in the first quarter. Defenders reached for him but didn’t touch, they chased him and couldn’t catch up. Harris was coming for the castle and he wanted to be running back king.
It took him 13 seconds of clock time.
“I made a check at the line and it put us in a good position to make a positive play and we had a big explosive play,” Hurts said of the touchdown.
Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos made the extra point and fans across Aggieland gripped the rectangles of cheap, white fabric between clenched knuckles as they watched seven points appear on the scoreboard next to Alabama’s name. Texas A&M had three points from a lone field goal already.
It was the play that should have, could have, would have been the touchdown heard across Kyle Field, and it had the potential to set the tone for Alabama for the remainder of the game. Instead, Texas A&M followed closely behind as the Crimson Tide remained only one or two small steps ahead.
The Aggies had the second-best offense in the SEC behind Alabama, at least statistically, and it showed when the clock ran out and Alabama walked away with a 27-19 victory.
The last time the Crimson Tide met the Aggies in 2016, Harris walked away with a career-high of 18 carries for 125 yards. The Alabama junior said that the biggest touchdown of his career was all thanks to knowing the enemy.
“The line did a great job of opening up a big hole,” Harris said. “We knew that their linebackers liked to run side to side, so we knew as running backs we had to impress them, so one way to do that was cut back behind it and we would have a lot of success.”
In the fourth quarter, Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted an A&M pass, leaving it to Hurts and Harris to move the ball downfield. Harris struggled to gain yardage and couldn’t quite find the clear route to the end zone that he did at the game’s beginning. By the end, Harris accounted for only five yards in the second half in comparison to the 119 he had in the first half.
The throne may have to wait after all.