No. 1 Alabama Survives Scare at Texas to Win 20-19 on Late Field Goal

Alabama Texas Football

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws a pass downfield against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez)

By JIM VERTUNO AP Sports Writer

Will Reichard kicked a 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds left, and Bryce Young and No. 1 Alabama overcame a stifling defensive effort by Texas to earn a hard-fought 20-19 victory Saturday.

Young was hit and harassed by the Texas defense most of the game, but the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback put together a big fourth quarter.

He had a twisting, off-balance touchdown pass, and then a 20-yard scramble in the final minute to set up Reichard’s winning kick. Young easily dodged a blitzing defender, then had wide open field ahead of him to scamper.

“We know what it takes,” Young said of the final drive that started at the Alabama 25 and moved across midfield in two plays. “We embrace that challenge. That’s where we want to be at.”

Young’s clutch play rescued Alabama on an uncharacteristically sloppy day when the Crimson Tide (2-0) struggled with penalties and dropped passes and was forced into six consecutive punts in one stretch. Texas (1-1) stuffed Alabama on fourth-and-inches late to set up a go-ahead field goal by Bert Auburn with 1:39 remaining.

“I think at the end of the day he (Young) did a great job,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “When his best was needed, he was really good. And that’s what we needed.”

Young also spoiled what could have been a program-defining victory for Texas and second-year coach Steve Sarkisian. Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers was knocked out with a shoulder injury at the end of the first quarter.

The steady hand of backup Hudson Card and an inspired defense helped Texas build a 16-10 lead early in the fourth, and then drive for the lead again on Bert Auburn’s fourth field goal of the day.

Young was 27-of-39 passing for 213 yards with the scrambling TD throw to Jahmyr Gibbs that gave Alabama a 17-16 lead. Jase McLellan had an 81-yard touchdown run for Alabama in the first quarter.

Alabama avoided its first nonconference regular-season loss since 2007 against Louisiana-Monroe in Saban’s first season.

But overall, the Crimson Tide was all out of sorts. Eleven first-half penalties and dropped passes showed a level of sloppy play seldom seen by Saban teams. Last season’s Bronco Nagurski Award winner Will Anderson struggled to make plays against an inexperienced Texas offensive line.

“It’s all about discipline, making the right choices and decisions, whether it’s post-snap, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to play better, there’s no doubt about that,” Saban said.

Saban won his first 25 matchups against former assistants who became head coaches, and then lost two last season against Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and then Kirby Smart of Georgia in last season’s national championship game. Sarkisian was Saban’s offensive coordinator when Alabama won the 2020 national title.

This could be one of those rare situations where the top-ranked team gets penalized for not playing well in a win, while the loser earns respect for nearly stealing a victory in what was expected to be a blowout. If voters weren’t impressed by Alabama, the Crimson Tide could drop behind No. 2 Georgia. Texas, unranked but receiving votes, may have been impressive enough to sneak into the bottom of the rankings.

Texas, which is scheduled to join the Southeastern Conference ahead of the 2025 season, drew a record crowd of 105,213 to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Anderson was impressed by a crowd that hampered Alabama signal calls at the line of scrimmage all game.

“This is probably like the loudest environment I’ve played in. the hardest game, since I’ve been in college football,” Anderson said. “Super loud, a lot of energy.”

Alabama hosts Louisiana-Monroe at 3PM CDT next Saturday.

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

 

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