Crimson Tide return three picks for scores at A&M
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t worried about how quarterback Kyle Allen will bounce back after each of his three interceptions were returned for touchdowns in a loss to Alabama.
He believes dealing with a day like Saturday comes with playing quarterback.
“You’ve got to take the pats on the back with the slaps in the face,” Sumlin said. “Today was kind of a slap in the face. You can’t play that position without any confidence.”
Derrick Henry ran for a career-high 236 yards and two scores and No. 10 Alabama set a school record with the three interception return TDs to get a 41-23 win over No. 9 Texas A&M.
Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) built a 28-6 lead in the second quarter thanks to 55- and 6-yard touchdown runs by Henry and interception returns of 33 and 93 yards.
Christian Kirk returned a punt 68 yards for a score just before halftime and Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1) added another touchdown on a 3-yard reception by Ricky Seals-Jones after a fumble early in the third to cut it to 28-20.
But Alabama kicked two field goals before Minkah Fitzpatrick’s 55-yard interception return for a score — his second of the day — made it 41-23 and sealed the victory.
Allen, who entered the game having thrown 79 passes without an interception, was 20 of 40 for 263 yards with a touchdown and a career-high three interceptions. Freshman Kyler Murray took over for a few possessions and was also picked off.
Allen was not made available to reporters, but right tackle Germain Ifedi spoke about the interception returns.
“I wasn’t overly flabbergasted,” he said. “This is the SEC … things are going to happen.”
The Aggies got within 34-23 with a 36-yard field goal with about eight minutes left. They were driving again after a stop on defense when Fitzpatrick became the first player in Alabama history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a game.
“When you play a quality football team like that … your mistakes are amplified,” Sumlin said. “Instead of balls being on the ground, they’re returned for touchdowns.”
Henry, who extended his school record by scoring in his 12th straight game, had already surpassed his previous career-best of 148 yards rushing with 10 minutes left in the second quarter and he had 178 at halftime.
Alabama was up by 8 when Adam Griffith made a 32-yard field goal to make it 31-20. Kyler Murray was intercepted on the last play of the third quarter and the Crimson Tide added a field goal on the ensuing drive.
Murray played the last possession of the first half and the first one of the third quarter which resulted in a punt. Cyrus Jones fumbled the return and it was recovered by Donovan Wilson.
Allen returned and connected with Seals-Jones on a 44-yard pass before finding him again for a 3-yard touchdown on the next play to cut the lead to 28-20 early in the third.
Myles Garrett blocked a punt on Alabama’s next possession and it was recovered by the Aggies. But A&M’s offense stalled and they came away empty after a missed 52-yard field goal attempt.
Kirk had his second punt return for a touchdown this season when he took it back 68 yards to cut the lead to 28-13. Kirk became the first A&M player to return two punts for TDs in a season since Aaron Glenn in 1993.
A crowd of 105,733 including former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara, Astros star rookie Carlos Correa and former A&M and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans attended the game.
Taylor Bertolet made field goals of 54 and 52 yards in the first half for A&M.