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The Battalion

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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) reacts in the dugout after Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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‘Spirit can ne’er be told’

Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+12th+Man+was+in+full+force+for+the+Saturday%2C+Oct.+9+game+against+Alabama.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Texas A&M’s 12th Man was in full force for the Saturday, Oct. 9 game against Alabama.

“That atmosphere and that environment tonight, if you don’t want to play in something like that, there’s something wrong with you,” Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said in the Alabama postgame press conference. “Bar none, that’s the best fanbase in college football.”
From fans to recruits, to parents, to significant others, to support systems, to Aggies — on Saturday, Oct. 9, Kyle Field was rocking. Bested only by the 2014 home game against Ole Miss, 106,815 people almost set a new attendance record against the then-No. 1 University of Alabama. But this statistic was not just one for the history books; many A&M players said the 12th Man had a direct effect on the game.
Senior place-kicker Seth Small said there is truly a unique spirit to the 12th Man.
“It felt like 100,000 were on the field with us all night,” Small said. “The 12th Man was with us all night. We have the best fans in the nation, and that’s what makes it so special to play at Kyle Field.”
Perhaps the biggest influence the 12th Man had on the night was its role in helping redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada recover from a hard hit to his left knee. In the fourth quarter, on a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ainias Smith, the signal-caller took a hard hit. Two assistants came to help him off the field, with the quarterback and Fisher going to the medical tent.
The 12th Man immediately supported him, chanting his name to express to Fisher it wanted Calzada back for the final offensive drive.
Junior running back Isaiah Spiller said he appreciates what A&M fans helped the team achieve.
“The 12th Man played a huge role,” Spiller said. “I’m thankful for them coming out in support of us and believing in us … [I] thank the 12th Man.”
Calzada heard them and went in on the final drive to put the Aggies in field goal range for Small, allowing the place-kicker to complete the game-winning, 28-yard field goal. As soon as Calzada stepped back onto the field following the injury, Kyle Field erupted in support.
Smith said it was amazing to hear the 12th Man cheering for Calzada, boosting the signal-caller’s confidence from a low point in the previous week’s game against Mississippi State when he was seen leaving the field in tears.
“12th Man, you know, they’re amazing,” Smith said. “That game. The noise. Everything. I appreciate them. It felt amazing.”
Immediately following the winning field goal, the 12th Man stormed the field for the first time since A&M’s 74-72 win over Louisiana State on Nov. 24, 2018.
Smith said the entire program was happy to be with the 12th Man on the field.
“The 12th Man is always giving us a little show,” Smith said. “Tonight, they were definitely with us. I appreciated them. With them rushing the field, that was crazy. As soon as I turned around, everyone was in my face.”
Kyle Field is commonly referred to by rival coaches as one of the hardest venues to play NCAA football. In 2020, following the 41-38 Florida upset, the Gators’ head coach Dan Mullen said the 12th Man — at limited capacity — directly had an impact on the results of the game.
The only reason the Oct. 9 upset over Alabama isn’t the top-attended game in A&M history is because Kyle Field was undergoing renovations around the time of the Ole Miss game in 2014. With sections of the new stadium partially redeveloped, 110,633 tickets were allowed to be sold.
Sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson said the Aggies needed the sold-out crowd to win against the Tide.
“We needed [the 12th Man], and they pulled their weight,” Johnson said.
A&M’s next home game will be a 6:30 p.m. kickoff against South Carolina on Oct. 23, with the 12th Man expected to show up in high numbers following the last home game defeat of the former best team in the country.

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