COLLEGE STATION (Texas) -- Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M's coach, used colorful language this spring to declare that his team would defeat Alabama in the course of Nick Saban’s career.
That promise was fulfilled in his first attempt since Saturday night's vow, when he handed the defending national champions their first loss in 2019. It was a thrilling upset.
Fisher stated that "our team beat a really great football team... and that's why it's important to us."
Seth Small scored a 28-yard field goal just before the clock expired, and Texas A&M beat top-ranked Alabama 41 to 38 to end the Crimson Tide’s 19-game winning streak.
This victory was Fisher's 56th Birthday and is Texas A&M’s largest win since Fisher assumed control in 2018.
Small stated, "I didn’t know what I should get him. So we decided as a team that he should win."
Alabama (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), had scored 21 points in a row , capped by a TD receipt and 2-point conversion grabs by Jameson Williams -- to lead 38-31 with 5 minutes left.
Texas A&M (3-2, 1-2), tied the score at 38 when Zach Calzada connected to AiniasSmith for a 25 yard touchdown with 3 minutes remaining. Calzada was struck as he threw the strike. He had to be taken off the field and returned to the field for the next drive following a medical tent visit.
Calzada was able to return after the Aggies forced a punt. Small completed the drive with a 17-yard pass from Isaiah Spiller, before Small brought it to an end to bring cheering fans onto the field.
Fisher stated, "I'm proud to our guys." Fisher said, "We made plays in critical times."
Calzada was a star, throwing for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bryce Young was hounded by A&M's defense all night, as Devon Achane returned a kickoff 96 yard for a TD.
Achane stated, "This is a great victory." It shows that we are capable of great things.
Smith had 85 yards receiving, two scores and Jalen Widermyer had 73 receiving yards and a TD to help win the Aggies.
Alabama had not lost since it fell to Auburn 48-45 on Nov. 30, 2019.
Saban stated, "Everyone should remember what they feel and not forget."
After entering the game at a perfect 24-0, it's the first loss Saban has suffered to an assistant. Fisher had been defeated four times by Saban, which is the most among his former assistants.
Texas A&M also ended Alabama’s streak of 100 victories over unranked teams. This began with a win against Colorado in the Independence Bowl 2007. It was the end of Saban's first season.
After their one loss last season, the Aggies were ranked sixth in the nation and ready to take on Alabama. The Aggies looked like they were headed for a loss after two consecutive losses to Mississippi State and Arkansas.
The Aggies won the upset and ended an eight-game streak against Alabama. This is their first win in this series since Johnny Manziel's amazing performance in 2012, when they won 29-24 on the road against Alabama.
Fisher stated, "We had a few tough weeks... (but) how you react to adversity is what defines you."
Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner that season, was one of the 106 815 people who gathered at Kyle Field to see the Aggies win against the Crimson Tide for the first ever time. A&M's first victory in the series was a 20-16 win at the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1968.
Manziel was one of the many who celebrated on the field in the wild postgame party.
The 17 1/2-point underdogs took control of this one quickly, racing to a 24-10 halftime advantage behind Calzada's brilliant start and two takeaways. Alabama's 24 points to A&M in the first period were the most Alabama allowed an unranked opponent prior to halftime under Saban.
Saban stated, "There were many issues."
Young threw for 369 yard and three touchdowns, while Williams received 146 yards. Brian Robinson Jr. ran for 147 yards.
Alabama reduced the lead to seven after DeMarcco Hellams stopped a punt from Nik Constantinou. King Mwikuta then pounced on the ball in the end zone for an Alabama touchdown in the third quarter.
The Aggies responded quickly with one of their own. Achane ran through two waves of defenders, then showed the elite speed that allows him to double as a sprinter for the track team. He made it 31-17 with just eight minutes remaining in the third.
Achane stated, "The hole was so large." It was almost like this for me.
Young completed the 75-yard drive by throwing Williams a 29-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to 31-24. After the touchdown, Williams shook his head and put his finger on his lips to silence the crowd.
Alabama needs to make some improvements to get its title back on track. This win could have been so much more for the Aggies, who must be feeling guilty about not playing better over the past two weeks.
Alabama will likely fall a few places in the poll following the loss. However, a win over the reigning champs should be enough for the Aggies to return to the Top 25.