A Nick Saban assistant finally did it. After 24 attempts by a group that includes Kirby Smart, Lane Kiffin and Will Muschamp, it was Jimbo Fisher that finally broke the unbeaten streak of the Alabama coach against his former assistants when Texas A&M knocked off the top-ranked Crimson Tide 41-38.
The unlikely victory by the unraked Aggies was led by Zack Calzada. The sophomore quarterback started the season as the backup before being pressed into action when Haynes King was injured in Week 2 against Colorado. He struggled in consecutive losses to Arkansas and Washington State leading into the Alabama game, but was good enough to lead A&M to just its second win against Alabama since joining the SEC in 2012.
The victory wasn’t easy as the Crimson Tide staged a furious rally in the second half after a first half dominated by the Aggies.
Trailing by 14 after the teams exchanged special teams touchdowns in the third quarter, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young hit Jameson Williams for a 29-yard score to cut the deficit to 7. Will Reichard added two field goals and then Williams caught another touchdown and two-point conversion to put the Crimson Tide ahead 38-31 as the Texas A&M defense wilted after being on the field for almost the entire second half.
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Calzada responded after just one first down on a penalty in the four drives after halftime. He needed just six plays to move the Aggies 65 yards for the tying touchdown on a 25-yard strike to Ainias Smith.
Calzada was injured on the play and limped off. But he returned after Texas A&M forced a thee-and-out. A pass to Isaiah Spiller got the Aggies near midfield with 1:26 left. His scramble for 11 yards got them to the Alabama 42. A 12-yard pass to Smith put them in field-goal range and that position was improved by a pass interference penalty.
Seth Small kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired for the victory. It was the first loss for Alabama after 19 consecutive victories dating to a loss to Auburn on Nov. 30, 2019.
Calzada finished 21 of 31 for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Texas A&M got started early with a field goal on its first drive which was the first deficit of the season for Alabama. The lead stretched to 17-7 at the end of the first quarter after Calzada hit Smith for an 8-yard score, his second touchdown pass of the game.
The Aggies took a 24-10 advantage into halftime after Calzada engineered another touchdown drive that was capped by Isaiah Spiller’s 15-yard run.
Follow colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith