Alabama Football: Five times defense slammed the door on Texas A&M

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(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

5. Alabama Football: Impressive efforts by Downs keep A&M out of the end zone

When A&M got the ball back with less than four minutes remaining, it had one last chance to try to get back in the game. A score of any kind would set up an onside kick opportunity and make the game interesting.

Fittingly, on a day that saw Alabama Football plagued by mental errors, back-to-back 15-yard penalties by the defense moved a sputtering A&M offense into Bama territory.

Under pressure once again, Max Johnson threw a dangerous pass over the middle to Ainias Smith, and the Tide defense appeared to be in good position. However, a poor angle (and perhaps a moment of indecision) by cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry resulted in a rare missed tackle, and suddenly A&M’s most dangerous offensive weapon was loose in the open field.

With only freshman safety Caleb Downs to beat, Smith feigned a cutback inside before lurching for the pylon, and initially appeared to score a touchdown.

Upon review, Downs made just enough of an effort to force Smith out of bounds at the two-yard line, and the defense lived to fight another day. Facing a first and goal from the two, A&M was still in scoring position, but Bama’s defense was relentless.

A pressure by Eboigbe forced an incompletion, and then a holding call and another sack pushed the Aggies all the way back to the 15. On third and long, Max Johnson found Jake Johnson on a wheel route for a good gain, but one last open-field tackle by freshman phenom Caleb Downs stopped A&M short of the goal line and brought up fourth down.

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This time, A&M made the field goal to trim the lead to 26-20, but Kool-Aid McKinstry recovered the ensuing onside kick without drama and the Tide offense was able to run out the clock for a huge SEC win on the road.