Texas A&M couldn’t help itself in the first half against Alabama. Or so it seemed.
The Aggies had one of their better defensive players, safety Donovan Wilson, ejected on a takeaway. After that takeaway, quarterback Trevor Knight promptly gave the ball back to the Crimson Tide with an interception of his own.
That’s not to mention the seventh-ranked rushing offense averaging only 0.7 yards a carry in the first quarter, or the defense spending most of the first half on the field.
Somehow, though, the Aggies are within striking distance. Alabama only has a 13-7 lead at the break despite dominating the game on paper. The Crimson Tide are significantly ahead of the Aggies in total yards (303 to 150), first downs (13 to 7) and time of possession (18:43 to 11:17).
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Alabama gashed the A&M defense early on in the game, but had to settle for field goals in its first two trips in the red zone. The Crimson Tide also missed a 30-yard field goal on a drive in which they could have put the game seemingly out of reach.
The Aggies couldn’t have had a worse sequence of events midway through the second quarter.
Trailing 13-0, A&M linebacker Claude George intercepted a pass by Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. On that play, Wilson leveled a block on Alabama running back Damien Harris that drew a targeting penalty upon review.
Wilson was ejected and the Aggies took over on the Alabama 49 instead of 34. On the next play, Knight tossed an interception to Marlon Humphrey.
Alabama marched down the field, hitting on a 46-yard pass from Hurts to ArDarius Stewart, but missed a 30-yard field goal to end that drive.
A&M responded with its first scoring drive of the game, going 80 yards. The Aggies faced a fourth-and-2 from the Crimson Tide 36, and converted on a 27-yard run by Knight. On the next play, Knight found Josh Reynolds in the corner of the end zone for a 9-yard score.