TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) – Jonathan Allen returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter to help No. 1 Alabama beat sixth-ranked Texas A&M 33-14 Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) moved on as the powerhouse league’s last unbeaten team, getting yet another in a long string of defensive scores. Allen, a lineman, scooped up the ball after Ryan Anderson knocked it loose from Keith Ford to finally build a cushion over the Aggies (6-1, 4-1), who led 14-13 well into the third.
It was 20-14 when Allen extended Alabama’s streak to 10 games with a score on defense or special teams, half the duration of a winning streak now at 20 going into an open date.
Alabama’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts then galloped 37 yards for another score, stepping out of a defender’s grasp and making a nifty move to get past another. The Tide was rolling again, a powerful encore to easy wins over ranked Tennessee and Arkansas teams.
The Aggies seemed likely to put up the biggest fight, with a defense that kept the pressure on Hurts and a handful of big runs by quarterback Trevor Knight. Then Allen and Anderson changed that in an instant.
The Tide defense sustained a big loss when safety Eddie Jackson was injured on a late punt return. Coach Nick Saban said Jackson, a senior, is out for the season with a broken leg.
Alabama racked up five sacks of Knight, who had engineered Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama as a redshirt freshman with a 348-yard, four-touchdown performance. He passed for 164 and ran for 24 in the semi-rematch.
Hurts passed for 166 yards and rushed for 93 more, throwing for a pair of touchdowns while getting intercepted twice. Damien Harris rushed 17 times for 126 yards.
Texas A&M: The Aggies led deeper into the game than any other ‘Bama opponent, the 6:33 mark of the third quarter. Knight made some plays with his running but was also given little time to hit receivers downfield by Allen & Co. Knight threw a pick on the first play after the defense intercepted Hurts in Alabama territory. The SEC’s top running team was held to 114 yards.
Alabama: Dominated the stat sheet (303 yards to 150) in the first half but settled for two short field goals and Adam Griffith missed a third. It was enough to keep it in doubt. The defense gave up back-to-back long TD drives late in the second quarter and to open the third, but delivered big plays when it had to.
Alabama was already a near-unanimous No. 1 , but this could cause the lone holdout voter to reconsider. Texas A&M shouldn’t veer too far out of the Top 10 despite the lopsided final score.
Alabama: has an open date before visiting No. 25 LSU
Texas A&M: gets a break from SEC games against New Mexico State.