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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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5 takeaways from A&M-Alabama

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Quarterback Zach Calzada recorded a standout performance in the Saturday, Oct. 10 game against No. 1 Alabama. The redshirt-sophomore led the Aggies to a 41-38 victory. 

Texas A&M shocked the college football world on Saturday, Oct. 9.
Here’s what we learned from the 41-38 upset over No. 1 Alabama in Kyle Field:
The 12th Man made a difference
The A&M student body showed up for the game in historic fashion, squeezing 106,815 attendees into Kyle Field. This game marked the second-largest crowd in the stadium’s history, surpassed only by the Aggies’ 2014 meeting with Ole Miss with 110,633 fans.
In the postgame press conference, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he was thankful for the faithful A&M fans filling the stands and motivating the players to fight until the final whistle.
“Let me tell you something — if you don’t want to play in that environment tonight, something is wrong with you,” Fisher said. “That’s as good of an atmosphere as there is in college football, bar none: I don’t care where it’s at. Those people behind [us], we won the game for them, and I mean that.”
Calzada played the game of his life
With two seconds left on the clock and the score locked at 38, place-kicker Seth Small was tasked with a 28-yard field goal to break the tie and give the Aggies a historic victory. Small’s kick veered to the left but curved through the uprights to give A&M the winning points. This marks the second-straight year Small has made a kick as time expired on Fisher’s birthday, when the kicker drilled a 26-yarder to upset the No. 4 Florida Gators in 2020, also by a score of 41-38.
Moments after his clutch field goal, Small said the team wanted to get Fisher a victory on his special day. He also said he ranks this kick among the best moments of his life.
“[The team] tried to get him a good birthday present,” Small said. “I didn’t know what to get him, so we thought, as a team, that we’d like to get him a win over Alabama. It was probably the third best moment of my life after I accepted Jesus into my heart as my true lord and savior and after getting married to my wife last summer. I rank [this game] three.”
Stifling the Tide’s offense
In the game’s opening stages, the Aggies made big plays on defense to keep the Tide from building an early lead. In the first quarter, a botched snap led to a fumble by senior running back Brian Robinson Jr. and was recovered by A&M senior safety Leon O’Neal Jr. In the same quarter, A&M junior safety Demani Richardson also picked off sophomore quarterback Bryce Young at the A&M 1-yard line to stop Alabama from drawing blood. The Aggies also held Alabama to three field goals in the red zone throughout the evening.
After failing to create a turnover over the past two weeks, the Aggies won the turnover battle against the Tide, 2-1. Senior defensive lineman Tyree Johnson attributed the team’s defensive success to a desire to regain self-assurance after previous disappointing outings.
“We really wanted to get our confidence back, especially after the last two weeks,” Johnson said. “This is a very well-coached team. We just had to get a few things rolling to get back to the Aggie football team that we know we’re capable of being.”
Special teams’ plays swayed the game’s momentum
In the third quarter, the Tide recaptured some momentum when junior linebacker King Mwikuta recovered a blocked punt to bring Alabama within seven points. On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore running back Devon Achane exploded for a 96-yard touchdown return to give the Aggies a 31-17 lead.
Following the game, Achane said he was surprised his blockers were able to force the gap in the return coverage, but was happy to add to the growing momentum for the Aggies.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Achane said. “The hole was so big, I was like, ‘Is this for me?’ The feeling after scoring that was amazing for me. I was just happy to do my job and put us in a position to win.”
Small gives coach Fisher another birthday game-winner
During the Aggies’ two-game losing streak, redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada received much criticism for his play. On Saturday, he silenced doubters with a performance on his own Kyle Field. The Georgia native went 21 for 31 with 285 yards, three touchdowns and one pick. Throughout the Aggies’ game-winning drive, “Calzada” chants flooded the stands of Kyle Field.
After the game, Fisher said he was proud of the performance by his young signal caller, especially given the context of the game and the injuries the team has faced.
“[Playing quarterback] is the hardest position to play in sports, period,” Fisher said. “The situations he is put in, the things that are happening, without a full team around him, it’s hard to go in there.”

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