Reichard’s game-winning kick sends No. 1 Alabama over Texas in Austin


CW / David Gray

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) runs down the sideline in the Crimson Tide’s 20-19 victory over the Texas Longhorns on Sept. 10 at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

Austin, TEXAS – Many times, it has been the kicker losing the game for the Alabama Crimson Tide rather than winning it.

On a wild Saturday in Austin, Texas, Will Reichard finished off a brilliant final drive for the top-ranked Crimson Tide (2-0), knocking through a 33-yard field goal to defeat Texas 20-19 at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. 

“I just wanted to get an opportunity,” Reichard said. “These guys fought all game, and I just wanted to do my part.” 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said he was proud of his team for stepping up with their backs against the wall. 

“The one good thing you have to say about our team is they showed tremendous resiliency today to do what they needed to do late in the third quarter and the fourth quarter,” Saban said. “To come back and win the game after not really playing Alabama football for the first three quarters of the game [is impressive]. You got to give Texas a lot of credit — they had a good plan and did a good job of executing it.” 

Trailing 19-17 with 1:29 remaining, quarterback Bryce Young and the Alabama offense was staring straight in the face of 105,213 Longhorn fans — the all-time record at the stadium.  

“This is like playing an SEC game on the road,” head coach Nick Saban said. “They’re going to be in the SEC. If they were in the SEC now, they’d probably be in the top half of the league.” 

“To be honest, since I’ve been here these past three years, this is the hardest game I’ve ever played in,” linebacker Will Anderson Jr. said. “Their fans were super loud, had a lot of energy. The atmosphere was crazy.” 

What ensued next was a nine-play, 61-yard drive that put the Crimson Tide in prime field goal position. Play after play, Young was calm and composed while making throw after throw. With just 35 seconds left, Young ducked what would have been a sack, and ran free for 20 yards to set up the game-winner for Reichard. 

“That’s where we love to be,” Young said. “We know what it takes. I have confidence that in that position we can do what we do. We know what it means when it’s time for us to step up in those crunch time moments.” 

In the 2010 BCS National Championship, Longhorns starting quarterback Colt McCoy went out on the first possession with a shoulder injury that may have cost his team the game. Ironically enough, Texas starting quarterback Quinn Ewers exited the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury on Saturday. Backup Hudson Card was impressive in his place, throwing for 158 yards on what seemed like one good leg. 

Texas running back Bijan Robinson was as good as advertised, finishing the game with 130 total yards and the Longhorns’ lone touchdown. Wide receiver Xavier Worthy was strong on the outside, hauling in five catches for 97 yards. 

The Crimson Tide was strong against the run all game, limiting Texas (1-1) to just 79 total rushing yards. 

It was nowhere near Alabama’s best game, but the team was able to avoid a week two loss against an unranked team. Now that the Crimson Tide has confidence, it can finish close games like these on the road moving forward. Alabama nearly set a school-record for penalties, finishing one shy of the mark with 15. The offensive line was a major concern, allowing six tackles for loss, two sacks and seven quarterback hurries. The inexperienced group also picked up three false start penalties in the first half. However, the line was better when it mattered most. 

“There is a tremendous amount of things we can learn from as a team,” Saban said. “But the resiliency our guys showed to make plays at the end of the game when we needed to make them — they made them. That’s great from a competitive standpoint. But if we’re going to be the kind of team we want to be — and that we’re capable of being — we’re going to have to play better down in and down out. […] I think it’s all things we can get fixed.” 

The Crimson Tide made sure to get the ball in the hands of running back Jahmyr Gibbs plenty, with the Georgia Tech transfer leading Alabama in both carries and receptions. Gibbs totaled 132 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. His running mate, Jase McClellan, had 97 rushing yards — 81 of which came on the Crimson Tide’s first touchdown of the game. 

The Longhorns left plenty of points on the board, finding the end zone just once in five red zone trips. There were multiple instances where Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian sent the field goal team out rather than going for it on fourth and short. But with how the Longhorns’ defense was playing, it’s hard to blame him. 

Alabama will have back-to-back games at home to get right before another road test against No. 16 Arkansas on Oct. 1. 

The Crimson Tide return home to Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday, Sept. 17 to take on the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at 3 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]