McCarron leads Tide to shootout win over Manziel-led Aggies
Once again the Aggie bad boy proved to be a handful for Alabama. This time, though, Alabama found a way to come out on top.
In one of the most hyped matchups heading into the 2013 season, the two-time defending national champ and No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide rode strong offensive performances from AJ McCarron, T.J. Yeldon and DeAndrew White to claim a wild 49-42 win over No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station, staving off a 21-point fourth-quarter Aggies rally. “I’m really proud of the way our offense played today and controlled the line of scrimmage and answered the bell every time we needed to,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said afterwards. “When they scored we always came back and scored.”
On this afternoon Alabama (2-0 overall, 1-0 in SEC) needed every ounce of offensive production it could muster with Texas A&M’s reigning Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, who shot to stardom last year after engineering an upset of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, throwing for a career-best 464 yards and five touchdowns and adding another 98 yards on the ground. With Manziel leading the way, the Aggies (2-1, 0-1) finished with 628 yards of total offense, the most yards ever given up by an Alabama team. Receiver Mike Evans caught seven passes for a whopping 279 yards and one touchdown. “We didn’t match up very well with the big guy Evans,” Saban said. “He just killed us all day long with the big plays. We felt like we had to play a lot of single-coverage on the outside and try and rush guys on Johnny so he couldn’t run around all day and make a lot of plays, which he did anyway.” On this afternoon, however, Alabama’s offense was just as potent. Orchestrating the effort was McCarron, who completed 20-of-29 passes for a career-high 334 yards and four touchdowns. “The guy played fantastic today,” Saban said of his senior signal-caller. “He always got us in the right play, and a lot of those plays were check-with-mes on the runs. He did a great job of throwing the ball. Our offensive line did a good job of helping him, which is not what happened in the last game … (McCarron) did a great job from a leadership standpoint for our team today.”
Yeldon ran for 149 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, while White caught four passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. The game started off looking like a re-run of last year’s tilt in which the Aggies pounced on the Tide often and early. This time the Aggies shot out to a 14-0 lead in front of a raucous home crowd of nearly 90,000 before the Tide seized control of the game with 35 unanswered points, the last of those 35 points coming on a nifty 73-yard interception return for a score by Vinnie Sunseri. That made it 35-14 early in the third quarter. “When we put that first drive together I thought our offense showed a lot of resiliency and a lot of poise and that was the difference in the game for us,” Saban said. “From that time on our guys didn’t have the anxiety. They went out and played better. We got a few stops the last three or four series of the first half, which was really important to get ahead in the game.” The Aggies, with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, pulled within seven, 42-35, with eight minutes still to play, but Alabama effectively sealed it when McCarron tossed a five-yard TD pass to Jalston Fowler with 2:28 to play to make it a 14-point margin. Texas A&M’s final TD — a four-yard pass by Manziel — came with just 15 seconds to play.
“It was a great team win for us,” Saban said.
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