When Alabama couldn’t shake Texas A&M in a battle of unbeaten, top-10 teams, it was Jonathan Allen’s scoop-and-score defensive touchdown that effectively brushed aside the latest would-be challenger.
A star defensive end, Allen returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds of the third quarter to help Alabama beat the sixth-ranked Aggies, 33-14, Saturday and continue a non-offensive scoring streak that’s as impressive as those 20 consecutive wins.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) moved on as the powerhouse league’s last unbeaten team, getting yet another in a long string of defensive scores. Allen scooped up the ball after Ryan Anderson knocked it loose from Keith Ford to finally build a cushion over the Aggies (6-1, 4-1), who led, 14-13, well into the third.
“You know you don’t think about it,” Allen said. “It’s all reaction. We just train ourselves to pick up all loose balls in practices and it’s good to see it happening in the game.”
It’s happening again and again.
The score was 20-14 when Allen extended Alabama’s streak to 10 games with a score on defense or special teams, pushing the season’s total to 12. Allen now has scored twice on fumble returns.
“I think that was the real turning point in the game, because it changed the momentum of the game,” Tide Coach Nick Saban said. “Those plays are always huge in games, but that one was especially huge.”
The Tide, however, sustained a big loss when safety Eddie Jackson was injured in the fourth quarter and didn’t come back after a punt return. Saban said Jackson, a senior and team leader, is out for the season with a broken leg.
Alabama racked up five sacks of Trevor Knight, who had engineered Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama as a redshirt freshman with a 348-yard, four-touchdown performance. He passed for 164 and ran for 24 in the semi-rematch.