Young, No. 1 Tide scramble past Horns on late FG

Young, No. 1 Tide scramble past Horns on late FG

AUSTIN, Texas — Despite committing 15 penalties and a poor performance by its offensive line, No. 1 Alabama was able to avoid an upset and beat unranked Texas 20-19 on a last-minute field goal Saturday.

While Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban praised his team’s resiliency, he was nonetheless critical of their performance, saying they didn’t play “Alabama football” for most of the game.

“We had way too many penalties,” Saban said. “We shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit.”

Alabama’s 15 penalties were the most ever committed under Saban and one short of the school record set in 2002.

The offensive line appeared especially rattled by a record 105,213 fans inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young was sacked twice and pressured on 12 dropbacks.

“I think the energy in the stadium created some uncharacteristic errors on both sides,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “But I’d like to think maybe we had a little bit of a part to do with that.”

During the first three quarters, Young was 1-of-8 for 7 yards when pressured. In the fourth quarter, he completed 3-of-4 passes under pressure, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Young, who threw for 213 yards and a touchdown, ran the ball seven times for 38 yards. But no run was more pivotal than his 20-yard scramble into Texas territory with less than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The play set up a game-winning 33-yard field goal by Will Reichard.

“In the end, that’s the best team in the country,” Sarkisian said of the Crimson Tide. “In a weird way, we kind of feel pretty good about ourselves, kind of where we’re at in the state of our program.

“The great teams find a way. I thought we found a way there to take the lead and I thought we had found a way to win it. So I don’t think we’re that far off.”

Reichard’s kick kept alive Alabama’s streak of 53 consecutive nonconference regular-season wins. The last time the Tide lost a nonconference game during the regular season was 2007 — Saban’s first season at Bama.

“Well, we didn’t block them very well up front, didn’t protect very well, got pressure in the pocket,” Saban said. “Wasn’t very effective throwing the ball. Didn’t get people open. Probably need to do a better job from a planning standpoint, the way they played us. So, um, you know it just all comes down to execution.”

Saban appeared to blame distractions for his team’s sub-par performance.

“When you’re playing games like this, you have to focus on what’s in front of you,” he said. “You can’t worry about all the other stuff that’s going on — what people say, what they say on ESPN, what you all [the media] say, how much you’re favored in the game. You have to focus on what’s in front of you. You’re an offensive lineman, that’s the guy you gotta block. If you’re a receiver, that’s the guy you gotta beat. If you’re a quarterback, you gotta take what the defense gives you. If you’re a runner, you gotta press the hole and make the right cuts.

“So we didn’t do any of that stuff the way we need to. So it wasn’t just one thing.”

Alabama closed as a 21.5-point favorite against Texas at Caesar’s Sportsbook and was around -1,600 to win the game straight up.

“Let’s call it like it is: Nobody gave us a chance in this game,” Sarkisian said. “None of you, none of the national media. Nobody gave us a chance. But we believed in our locker room we could go win this game. And we played like a team that believed they could win this game. And we played like a team that thought they were going to win the game.”

Texas lost starting quarterback Quinn Ewers to a left clavicle injury late in the first quarter after he completed 9 of 12 passes for 134 yards.

The injury forced third-year sophomore Hudson Card off the bench. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 158 yards and no touchdowns.

“I thought the quarterback that went out of the game [Ewers] was playing really well, made some really good throws. He’s a very talented guy,” Saban said. “But I thought the quarterback that came in the game did a really good job, too. He scrambled and extended some plays that maybe the other guy wouldn’t have been able to in critical situations because he is very athletic.”

Texas’ star running back Bijan Robinson finished with 130 total yards of offense (73 receiving, 57 rushing) and one touchdown.

Texas (1-1) hosts UTSA next Saturday, while Alabama (2-0) hosts Louisiana Monroe.

ESPN’s Dave Wilson and David Purdum contributed to this report.

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