Tua Tagovaiola threw four touchdown passes in a 47-point offensive and special teams outburst for the Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0) in College Station Saturday for their seventh straight victory over the Texas A&M Aggies (3-3, 1-2).
“I felt like we did a lot of good things in the game today and there are obviously things that we need to work on,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “This is a tough place to play and it is a great win for us, especially in this division.”
Tua tossed three touchdowns on third down plays in the first half despite the fact that the offense was kept on the sidelines for the majority of the opening quarter. He capitalized on ideal field position throughout the day and connected with Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith and Najee Harris for early Alabama scores.
Alabama compiled more than 300 yards on special teams and recorded a blocked punt that went for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jaylen Waddle set up the Aggies with great field position via a kick or punt return on three occasions.
“People do not kick the ball to us very much,” said Saban. “A great punter is good for us because we will get to return some balls. He kicked it far and we returned it far.” Tua’s lone blemish came when the Tide had a chance to all but close out the game late in the first half. Alabama had just recovered a fumble to set their offense up on the Aggie 26-yard line.
His third down pass was intercepted by Demani Richardson in the end zone to keep it a two-possession game. It also allowed the Aggies to cut the deficit to 11 at halftime with a 31-yard field goal by Seth Small as time expired.
Alabama was able to build a three-possession lead midway through the third quarter when Tua found Henry Ruggs III in the corner of the end zone to go up 34-13.
All told, Tua threw for 293 yards and was well assisted on the ground. Alabama’s Najee Harris recorded 114 yards on 20 carries while Brian Robinson Jr. added another 50 on 10 carries.
Texas A&M responded with an 82-yard scoring drive to get back within 14 in the third quarter and even found momentum when they were able to stop the Alabama offense on the ensuing possession. But a Kendrick Rogers unsportsmanlike conduct penalty ultimately killed the drive and led to a long Waddle punt return inside the Aggie 35.
Robinson Jr. then capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to put the Tide up three scores once again and end any Aggie hopes of a comeback.
A&M could not have gotten off to a better start on the afternoon. They used over eight minutes of the opening quarter to march 75 yards for the game’s first score. Kellen Mond ultimately finished off the drive with three straight rushes, including a score from one-yard out.
“The players did not get frustrated, they just made the adjustments we needed to make,” said Saban.
A&M rushed for 42 yards on the opening possession, with much of it coming from Isaiah Spiller as well as Mond. But Spiller finished with just 27 yards on 10 carries in the loss. All told, Mond led the team in rushing by far with 90 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He also threw for a pair of touchdowns.
“I felt for one time in a while that we fought for the entire game,” said Mond. “That is something we did not really do prior to this. As a whole, we need to play a little more consistent. But I definitely think we are on the right track.”
The Aggies will next travel to Ole Miss to take on the Rebels before hosting three straight games against Mississippi State, UTSA and South Carolina. Two of their three losses have come to teams who were ranked number one overall at the time.
Alabama now returns to Tuscaloosa for three straight matchups with Tennessee, Arkansas and LSU.
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