TUSCALOOSA | Two miscues in the final minutes of the University of Alabama's 29-24 loss to Texas A&M Saturday - an interception and a penalty - dashed the makings of a second late comeback in as many weeks for the Crimson Tide.
After driving the UA offense 58 yards, just 2 yards shy of the Aggies goal line, quarterback AJ McCarron threw his second interception of the game and of the season on a fourth-and-2 pass. Aggies defensive back Deshazor Everett stepped in front of a throw to the front corner of the end zone. Receiver Kenny Bell went in motion from left to right ahead of a shotgun snap and went directly toward the front pylon, but the Aggies defense read the play well and Everett made the game's biggest play at its biggest moment.
"We had a little rub play we had there. I'm not sure what happened, but it's a rub play we've had success with in practice," Alabama center Barrett Jones said. "I thought it was a great call at the time."
Still, the Crimson Tide wasn't completely out of the game with a pair of timeouts and 1:36 remaining. The UA defense had set up a three-and-out series, but with TAMU in punt formation, UA freshman linebacker Tyler Hayes jumped offsides to give the Aggies the first down they needed to end the game.
UA used both its timeouts during the defensive stop.
"We had an opportunity at the end of the game, fourth-and-2 at the 2, and we also had an opportunity to get the ball back with probably what would have been about 35 seconds left in the game with pretty good field position," UA coach Nick Saban said. "And again, jumped offsides on a hard count. (That's) something that you most certainly expect in a situation like that. The players were told 'Make sure you stay onsides. They're going to try to get you to jump with a shift or a motion or something.' "
Alabama All-Americans gather before game
Dennis Homan won a national championship at Alabama in 1965 and became an All-American in 1967, but when asked how he might fare against some of the current Crimson Tide defenses, the former split end answered with a laugh.
"They're too big," Homan said. "I'll say this. I would have to out-quick them. I would hate to have to try and run over them. I don't know what's going on with the guys these days. They're huge.
"Our biggest players were probably 270, 275 pounds. The game has really changed. If I could go back when I was 20 years old, I wouldn't mind running some routes against them to see what I could do, though."
Homan attended a special reception for former Alabama All-Americans on Saturday morning in the A Club Room before the start of the Texas A&M game. Some of the distinguished attendees included John Hannah, Mike Hall, Jeremiah Castille, Bobby Humphrey and Larry Rose. Last year's star, running back Trent Richardson, was among the former All-Americans in attendance as well.
"It's a different game," said Hannah, who lettered from 1970-72. "Apples and oranges."
Bryant players reunite
Alabama also hosted a reunion this weekend of former Texas A&M football players who played for legendary head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Recognized during a pregame ceremony were Jim Burkhart, Ray Doucet, Bob Easley, Carter Franklin, John Gilbert, Dennis Goehring, Bill Grandberry, Billy Pete Huddleston, Don Kachtik, Bobby Lockett, Carl Luna, Charles Milstead, Dutch Ohlemdorf, Buddy Payne, Henry Pearson, Billy Schroeder, Bennie Sinclair, Murry Trimble and Herb Wolf.
Each played for Bryant at TAMU from 1954-57.
Six of Bryant's players at A&M later joined him at Alabama, including the late Bobby Marks, who was a Tide assistant coach from 1972-82. The attendees on Saturday were Darwin Holt, Bobby Drake Keith, Dee Powell, John David Crow and former UA head coach Gene Stallings.
McCarron streak ends
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's streak of 291 consecutive passes without an interception came to an end Saturday with a first-quarter turnover.
The Aggies' Sean Porter caught a well-thrown McCarron pass that Bell could not hold onto. McCarron's throw was a strike to Bell over the middle, but a hard hit popped the ball out and into Porter's hands.
Amari Cooper moved into second place all-time on Alabama's freshman record listing for receiving yards in a season. Cooper has 744 yards on the year. Record-holder Julio Jones had 924 in 2008. ... Saturday's 20-14 halftime deficit was UA's first since trailing 21-9 at the half at South Carolina in 2010. ... The Crimson Tide's team captains were receiver Kevin Norwood, linebacker Nico Johnson and cornerback Dee Milliner.
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Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0196.
Michael Southern contributed to this report.