Published September 14, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – No. 6 Texas A&M was tied with top-ranked Alabama in the second quarter when Johnny Manziel scrambled and scrambled some more, then wriggled away from an Alabama defender who had him caught by the jersey.
Then just as another white jersey was barreling toward him -- and 26 yards behind the line of scrimmage -- he launched a pass that Edward Pope grabbed for a 12-yard gain on third down.
Four plays after Manziel's sparkling highlight, the Heisman Trophy winner was picked off in the end zone, the Crimson Tide soon had the lead and Alabama didn't trail again in a 49-42 win on Saturday.
"We were just kind of on a different page and that's on me," Manziel said of the play. "It's either our ball or nobody's and I know that and I know better than that. A big turning point in the game so that one's on me."
Manziel finished with a school-record 464 yards passing with five touchdowns. He added 98 yards rushing to finish with 562 yards of total offense, which is the second-most in school and SEC history behind the 576 yards he gained last year against Louisiana Tech.
The sophomore had another major miscue on A&M's first drive of the second half. This time his pass was deflected and intercepted by Vinnie Sunseri, who returned it 73 yards for a touchdown to push Alabama's lead to 35-14. Manziel had a shot at making a tackle on the return, but Sunseri juked the quarterback and he went sliding down on the turf.
It was a stark contrast to last year's upset of Alabama when Manziel and the Aggies played a charmed game to get the 29-24 win in Tuscaloosa. Manziel's nearly flawless performance helped catapult him into becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
"I was proud of the way they kept fighting until the very end," Manziel said. "That's impressive to me."
Manziel's favorite target on Saturday was Mike Evans, who caught seven passes for a school-record 279 yards receiving with a score. Malcome Kennedy added 57 yards receiving with three touchdowns.
Manziel's mistakes were far from A&M's only problem on Saturday. The defense was back to full strength after missing several starters due to suspensions for the first two games, but the unit couldn't slow down Alabama's offense, allowing 568 yards.