By Terrance Turner
Sept. 10, 2022
Today, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide went to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns. Spectators packed out the University of Texas’ Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, despite sweltering temperatures that reached a feels-like reading of nearly 120 degrees (per Fox). Alabama struggled to beat the heat as it battled a stout Texas defense. And its offense was beset by penalties that threatened to give Texas the edge. It was a bruising, physical match, with major injuries on both sides.
Both teams scored field goals in the first quarter. Kicker Will Reichard made a 52-yard kick for the Tide, and Longhorns kicker Bert Auburn made a 26-yard field goal attempt to tie the game at 3. But Alabama running back Jase McClellan took off down the field for an 81-yard touchdown run – the longest of his career. It was 10-3 Alabama, with 2:31 left in the first.
Longhorns QB Quinn Ewers hurled a far-out pass to Texas receiver Xavier Worthy, who caught the ball inside the 5 yard line for a gain of 46. That placed the Longhorns at first and goal. But Ewers got taken down by Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner, who tackled him and then landed on top of him. Turner got flagged for roughing the passer; Ewers lay motionless on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field. Hudson Card came in at quarterback.
The lengthy Longhorns drive extended through the end of the first quarter. Five seconds into the second, Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson ran almost untouched into the end zone. That touchdown (and extra-point kick) tied the game at 10, with 14:55 left in the half.
Shortly afterward, McClellan had his face mask grabbed by one Texas player and then got hit going down by another defender. He headed to the medical tent for evaluation. And the hits kept coming: Young got sacked at the end of the drive for a loss of 11. The Tide were first to punt – but not before a false start penalty. (Alabama head coach Nick Saban was livid.)
The Texas defense forced two straight punts on successive drives by Alabama. But the Longhorns were forced to punt, too, after Card got tackled while trying to make a last-second pass. Their opponents didn’t fare much better. Alabama was unable to convert on its drive; Bryce Young failed to connect on 4th down. Texas took over. Alabama’s defense got flagged for a jump offsides. That totaled nine first-half penalties for the Tide, the most they’ve had since 2010. (Interestingly, 2010 was the last time Alabama played Texas.)
The number of penalties soon climbed to 11. A pass interference call on the defense took Texas to the 15-yard line, and on the very next play the Tide got flagged again for pass interference. Those back-to-back penalties put Texas at first and goal at the 2 yard line. With just three seconds left, Texas opted for a field goal attempt. But kicker Auburn hit the ball wide left and missed a 20-yard field goal. So the game was tied at 10 at halftime.
Alabama failed to score any points in the second or third quarters. The Tide had to punt for the 4th straight drive as the third quarter got underway. But Texas also went three and out, and Hudson Card was seen limping off the field after the drive ended.
Alabama got the ball back; Young got tackled in the end zone for a safety. But the Texas defense was called for roughing the passer with targeting when in fact neither foul had occurred. After review, the referee explained that neither roughing nor targeting the taken place — but somehow, he didn’t uphold the safety. Both commentators and viewers questioned this decision.
Longhorns tight end Ja-Tavion Sanders made a catch but fell down and rolled over; as he was getting up, ‘Bama outside linebacker Will Anderson pushed him in the back — a totally unnecessary shove that earned him a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness. The chaotic drive finally ended with a 33-yard field goal attempt; this time Auburn drilled the kick to give Texas a 13-10 lead.
That score was maintained through the beginning of the fourth quarter as the Tide continued to struggle offensively and its defense continued to rack up penalties. Some of those penalties helped Texas get within field goal range where their kicker Bert Auburn sent through a successful field goal from 24 yards to make it 16-10.
The Crimson Tide offense finally came alive on its subsequent drive. Bryce Young led the team down the field and then gave Tide the lead with a gutsy touchdown throw to running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Alabama went up 17-16.
Some time later, a crucial first down for Alabama was overturned upon review when referees ruled that the runner was short. Alabama went for it on 4th down and came up short there, too. Texas took over and put together a scoring drive; Bert Auburn successfully kicked a 49-yard field goal to give the Longhorns the lead. It was 19-17 with 129 remaining.
Alabama mounted a last ditch effort to retake the lead. On a crucial play, Bryce Young evaded a sack, regained his footing, and took flight for a 19-yard run.
That was more than enough to put the Tide in field goal range. Will Reichard kicked a near-flawless 33-yard field goal to give Alabama a 20-19 lead with five seconds left. That ended up being just enough to win the game.
In the end, the Alabama Crimson Tide finished the game with 15 penalties — the most ever under coach Nick Saban. (There were other penalties that didn’t get called, including rather obvious facemask and holding fouls in the second half.) The offense struggled for most of the game, and Young struggled to connect with his receiver corps. But despite all of these drawbacks, some late-game heroics by Young and Reichard helped Alabama hold on.