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September 14, 2013

Crimson Tide tops Texas A&M in 49-42 shootout

COLLEGE STATION, Texas | Johnny Manziel did everything he could on Saturday but didn't get what he wanted.

A signature win.

Both teams rolled up record offensive numbers Saturday, but No. 1 Alabama outlasted the Aggies 49-42 to turn around last season's only loss and give the Crimson Tide a win in its Southeastern Conference opener.

AJ McCarron completed 20 of 29 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M.

The Crimson Tide, for a second straight season against the Aggies, looked bewildered at the start as Manziel led the Aggies to two quick touchdowns and a 14-0 lead that created bedlam at Kyle Field.

Alabama answered, though, keeping Manziel in check for a time and rolling up 35 unanswered points, an explosion capped by a 73-yard interception return by Vinnie Sunseri that put UA ahead 35-14 with less than three minutes elapsed in the second half.

The teams then swapped touchdowns, but the drama began when Alabama, ahead 42-28 and driving for another score, lost a T.J. Yeldon fumble inside the Aggie 5-yard line, opening the door and allowing A&M to use its big-play capability to get back into the contest.

Manziel struck quickly, finding wide receiver Mike Evans for a 95-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 42-35 and made for a dramatic final eight minutes of play.

Alabama controlled the ball for most of that time and scored the decisive touchdown after a 65-yard drive, as AJ McCarron found Jalston Fowler on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 2:28 to play.

Manziel led another touchdown drive, but with 15 seconds remaining, UA covered an onside kick attempt to seal the victory.

Although Manziel had eye-popping numbers (28 of 39, 464 yards and five touchdowns), McCarron was quietly efficient and effective, completing 20 of 29 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.

"We said going in that AJ was going to have to beat us, and he caught fire," Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said.

"You can't let a great quarterback like AJ McCarron stand back there and get absolutely no pressure at all," Texas A&M defensive end Julien Obioha said.

"This is an unbelievable win for us," McCarron said. "It came down to the smallest of things, the hands team. But I was proud of my offensive line and the job they did. They really protected me. I don't think I touched grass all day long."

Manziel, who did meet with media after the game, praised Alabama as a "great team," although he noted that "this wasn't the Super Bowl, it wasn't the last game for the rest of our season.

"I probably had a couple of throws I would like to have back, two (interceptions) in particular. But we never quit, and I was proud of that."

The 42 points were the most allowed by a Saban-coached team at Alabama and the most ever scored by the opponent in a Crimson Tide victory.



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