3 Interception Returns for TDs, Henry's 236 Rushing Yards Lead Tide Past Texas A&M
- rolltide.com
October 17, 2015

Eddie Jackson returns an interception for a 93 yard touchdown.
Photo Credit - rolltide.com
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The 10th-ranked University of Alabama football team used a punishing rushing offense and big plays from its defense to defeat No. 9- Texas A&M, 41-23, on Saturday before a crowd of 105,733 at Kyle Field. Alabama (6-1 overall; 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference) intercepted four passes, returning three for touchdowns, to knock off the previously unbeaten Aggies (5-1 overall; 2-1 in the SEC).

Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns while cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick and strong safety Eddie Jackson nabbed two interceptions each. Jackson returned one for a 93-yard touchdown as the Tide defense scored three times - a first in Alabama history. Fitzpatrick scored two touchdowns via interception returns, first on a 33-yard return in the first quarter and later on a game-clinching 55-yarder. Alabama quarterback Jake Coker passed for 138 yards while completing 19-of-25 passes.

Alabama built a 28-6 lead midway through the second quarter with Henry rushing 15 times for 178 yards and three scores in the first half and the Tide defense holding the explosive A&M offense to 189 total yards. After Fitzpatrick's interception return, Henry rumbled 55 yards to pay dirt with 5:26 left in the opening stanza before tacking on a 6-yard scoring run with 14:51 left in the half. Jackson's 93-yard scoring play extended the lead to 28-6 before A&M struck back on a 68-yard punt return touchdown by Christian Kirk with 3:03 left in the first half. Alabama led, 28-13, at halftime.

A&M narrowed the Alabama lead to 28-20 early in the third period on a 3-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Allen to wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones. The Tide extended its lead to 34-20 on a pair of Adam Griffith field goals before A&M's Taylor Bertolet hit a 36-yard field goal with 7:57 left in the fourth quarter, Bertolet's third counter of the game. Fitzpatrick stopped an Aggie drive with his second interception of the day, which he returned 55 yards for his second score of the game. It set a Crimson Tide single-game record for interceptions return for a touchdown, both for the team and an individual.

Alabama continues its season next Saturday, Oct. 24, at Bryant-Denny Stadium against the University of Tennessee (3-3 overall; 1-2 in the SEC). The game will be televised by CBS starting at 2:30 p.m. CT.

First Quarter

Texas A&M won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.

The Aggies picked up a first down on the initial play from scrimmage on an 18-yard completion from quarterback Kyle Allen to wide receiver Christian Kirk. The Alabama defense produced a stop on the next series, as junior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen sacked Kyle Allen on third down, forcing a fumble which was recovered by Texas A&M.

After the punt was fair caught at the 6, the Tide offense took over and immediately established the running game. Running back Derrick Henry carried the ball twice to convert one first down, then broke off a 19-yard rush following a first down picked up through the air on a completion from Jake Coker to senior wide receiver Richard Mullaney. Alabama drove inside the A&M 35, but the drive stalled there. Junior kicker Adam Griffith came on to attempt a 49-yard field goal, but a delay of game penalty brought out the punting unit, instead.

Texas A&M began its next drive at the 20. Following a Tra Carson rush of three yards, Allen dropped back to pass but sailed the throw over his intended receiver's head. Freshman defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick was there for the interception, which he returned down the sideline 33 yards for a touchdown. Griffith added the extra point and the Tide led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

After another punt by the Aggies, Alabama started its next offensive possession from the Tide 21. Henry ripped off a gain of 15 yards on the ground on the first play, then Coker hit Mullaney over the middle for nine more yards. On second-and-1, Henry broke through the hole at the line of scrimmage and past the defense, taking the ball 55 yards into the end zone. The score extended the lead to 14-0 with 5:26 remaining in the quarter.

The teams then traded three-and-outs, giving the ball back to Texas A&M. The Aggies offense used a balanced attack to move down the field, getting into field goal position for kicker Taylor Bertolet. His attempt from 54 yards out was knocked through the uprights, trimming the Tide's lead to 14-3 with just over a minute to play in the first quarter.

Alabama's offense was on the move again as the quarter ended. Coker found junior tight end O.J. Howard open on a play action roll out for 24 yards, then Henry carried the ball on the next two plays, gaining a total of 38 yards to move inside the Texas A&M 10.

Score: Alabama 14, Texas A&M 3

Second Quarter

Henry capped the drive off on the first play of the quarter, muscling his way into the end zone from six yards out for his second touchdown of the day. The scoring drive, which made the score 21-3 in favor of the Tide, covered 68 yards in five plays while taking 1:23 off the clock.

Taking over at their own 25 following a touchback on the kickoff, the Aggies put together another solid drive but, once again, were only able to get three points from it. Allen moved the offense down the field with his arm, hitting Kirk for 22 yards and wide receiver Josh Reynolds for 23 yards to reached the Alabama 32. That eventually resulted in Bertolet's 52-yard field goal attempt, which was good to cut the lead to 21-6.

Coker picked up a couple of first downs with his arm, finding freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley for 13 yards and Mullaney for 11, but the drive stalled just shy of midfield and sophomore punter J.K. Scott was brought on to punt the ball away.

Alabama put more points on the field thanks to its defense on A&M's next drive. Allen had the Aggies in position to get into the end zone for the first time, but another interception ended the drive. This one was hauled in by junior strong safety Eddie Jackson at the 7, who made an electric return for the second defensive touchdown by the Tide in the half, moving the margin to 28-6 with 6:28 to play in the half. It marked only the second time in Tide history to have two interception returns for touchdowns in the same game (the other time was at Arkansas in 2008 when Justin Woodall and Javier Arenas did it).

Texas A&M went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but its defense was able to force Alabama to punt the ball away quickly. That set the stage for Kirk, who fielded Scott's 51-yard punt at the Aggie 32 and took it back 68 yards for a touchdown. The Tide's lead stood at 28-13 with 3:03 left in the first half.

Alabama's offense went three-and-out, leaving just enough time for the Aggies to have one more possession. Freshman backup quarterback Kyler Murray came in for A&M and was able to lead the offense across midfield. On the final play of the half, Bertolet was brought on to attempt a 55-yard field goal, his third attempt from over 50 yards, but this one was no good, preserving the 28-13 lead for the Tide.

Score: Alabama 28, Texas A&M 13.

Third Quarter

The Tide offense went three-and-out to begin the second half, but A&M could not take advantage, going three-and-out as well with Murray still in the game at quarterback. Drew Kaser launched a 49-yard punt, which was reeled in by senior Cyrus Jones. Jones returned the punt 23 yards, but fumbled as he was hit, and the ball was recovered by the Aggies at the Tide 47.

Allen and the Aggie offense wasted no time in taking advantage of the turnover. After a failed halfback pass on first down, Allen threw a strike to Ricky Seals-Jones for 44 yards to the Tide 3, and then hit Seals-Jones in the end zone on a quick slant pattern on the next play to bring A&M to within eight, 28-20, less than five minutes into the half.

Alabama's next offensive possession failed to produce a first down, as Coker and sophomore wide receiver ArDarius Stewart could not connect on third-and-3. Then, on fourth down, Scott's punt was blocked by defensive lineman Myles Garrett and recovered by the Aggies at the Tide 29.

With the Tide defense needing to make a play, senior linebacker Reggie Ragland came through, sacking Allen for a loss of five yards on third-and-10 as the quarterback attempted to escape the pocket. That set up Bertolet for another attempt from over 50 yards, this one from 52, but this one was short, and A&M had failed to capitalize on the short field.

Taking over at its own 34, Alabama strung together an impressive drive to add to its lead. Coker and Henry combined to lead the offense down the field, reaching the red zone. The Tide would get as far as the Aggie 12, but could not punch it in for a touchdown. Griffith came on to convert a 32-yard field goal, making the score 31-20 at the 3:04 mark.

The teams traded punts following the field goal. The Aggies had the ball at their own 20 and, on the final play of the quarter, Murray sprinted out and threw deep, but the pass was intercepted by Jackson again. Jackson returned it 26 yards to the Texas A&M 28 on the final play of the third quarter.

Score: Alabama 31, Texas A&M 20.

Fourth Quarter

Coker used his feet to keep plays alive in the final quarter, scrambling for 16 yards on third-and-6 and eight yards on second-and-goal from the 10, but the offense could not pick up the final two yards for a touchdown. Griffith made the 20-yard field goal on fourth down, extending the Tide's lead to 34-20 early in the fourth.

The Aggies responded with a drive of their own, also resulting in a field goal. Starting from the 30, Allen used his arm and mobility to take his team into the red zone, including a rush of 18 yards and a completion to Seals-Jones for 26 yards. But Texas A&M was forced to bring Bertolet out for another field goal, his third make of the game, shrinking the Tide lead down to 11 at 34-23.

Alabama went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, giving the ball back to the Aggies quickly. Allen completed a 19-yard pass to Josh Reynolds on the first play, but was picked off once again on the next play, as Fitzpatrick collected his second interception of the day. And just as he did with his first, Fitzpatrick returned pick number two into the end zone, this time from 55 yards out. The third defensive touchdown of the game for the Tide provided the final margin of 41-23.

Final Score: Alabama 41, Texas A&M 23.