There were some fortunate breaks for the University of Alabama in the Crimson Tide’s improbable 20-19 victory over Texas on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
Ultimately, the Crimson Tide didn’t need luck. The Crimson Tide needed Bryce Young.
Alabama’s Heisman Trophy quarterback showed why he’s the country’s best player. He turned a frustrating afternoon into a memorable comeback victory. In the final 13 minutes, Young was 12-of-16 passing with 120 yards and a touchdown. He also had 28 rushing yards, with 20 of those yards coming on a Houdini-like escape in the backfield on the game-winning drive, and put his team in position for Will Reichard’s 33-yard field goal to win it with 10 seconds remaining.
Nick Saban was asked afterward why his quarterback excels in situations like he did on Saturday.
“If I could actually tell you that, I don’t know if I would be doing this,” Saban said. “This is a pretty good job I got, but I’d have a better one.”
After drawing laughter with his comments, Saban broke down exactly why Young comes through in the clutch.
“The guy studies, he prepares well for the game, he understands exactly what to do, understands protection, knows how to protect himself,” Saban said. “He knows when he’s got to throw the ball hot. He’s athletic enough to extend plays and make plays and he’s accurate throwing the ball. He’s very, very instinctive. He plays quarterback like a point guard in basketball.”
It was hard for Young to show that most of the day as Texas controlled the game everywhere but the scoreboard. Longhorn quarterback Quinn Ewers was effective early on, even though he missed a couple of deep shots that could have been touchdowns, but Alabama still built a 10-3 lead on a Reichard field goal and a 81-yard run by Jase McLellan.
Ewers directed the Longhorns on a touchdown drive late in the first quarter. However, just before the Longhorns got into the end zone, Ewers was lost for the day after hurting his non-throwing shoulder on a penalized hit by Dallas Turner. Two plays later, Robinson scored on 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 10.
Hudson Card came in for Ewers, who finished 9-of-12 for 134 yards. Card played well but was not as sharp as Ewers.
Texas kicker Bert Auburn missed a short field goal on the final play of the first half. Saban said Will Anderson, Jr. tipped the field goal attempt, forcing it wide. Obviously, Texas could have used those points.
The Longhorns did take a 16-10 lead on a pair of short Auburn field goals but wasted opportunities on both drives to get into the end zone. The Longhorns also had a possible safety overturned because Young got rid of the ball before being sacked in the end zone.
Auburn’s second field goal came with 12:44 remaining. Alabama, which hurt itself all day with 15 penalties for 100 yards, flipped on the switch and responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was vintage Young. He converted a 3rd-and-7 early in the drive with a 17-yard run and threw for 52 yards on the drive. One of the completions was a 14-yard strike to Ja’Corey Brooks on 4th-and-3. The touchdown came when Young avoided pressure by floating to the left before stopping, twisting his hips and throwing a strike to Gibbs. Alabama led, 17-16, after Reichard’s extra point.
Texas responded quickly driving close enough for Auburn to hit a 49-yard field goal with 1:29 left to give the Longhorns a 19-17 lead.
Too much time was left on the clock. Young calmly moved the Tide into range for Reichard to nail his game-winning field goal.
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