Story Poster
Jimbo Fisher
DeMarvin Leal
Jayden Peevy
Isaiah Spiller
Texas A&M Football

No. 5 A&M combines late magic with defensive dominance to survive in Denver

September 11, 2021

DENVER — The hype and hope for a magical Texas A&M football season appeared to be vanishing into the thin Rocky Mountain air on Saturday afternoon.

But then junior quarterback Zach Calzada did a little magic trick of his own. Seemingly in the blink of an eye, he transformed from klutz to clutch, and — presto— the fifth-ranked Aggies pulled a 10-7 victory over Colorado out of a proverbial hat.

You know the old cliché ‘snatching victory from the jaws of defeat?’ Colorado was chomping on A&M’s national championship hopes like a Great White shark. Captain Quint seemed to have a better chance of escaping than the Aggies did.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Isaiah Spiller and Ainias Smith celebrate in the end zone following the game-winning touchdown pass.

That is until Calzada’s stunning metamorphosis on A&M’s last-gasp, game-winning 77-yard drive.

Calzada was thrown into action because of a first-quarter injury to starter Haynes King. He struggled most of the day — completing just 18 of 38 passes. He even fumbled away a touchdown opportunity in the fourth quarter.

But suddenly, he started throwing dimes. And Isaiah Spiller was catching them.

Calzada and Spiller connected three times on the final drive. On the third one, Calzada rolled left to avoid pressure. He located Spiller — his third option — on a wheel route behind Guy Thomas near the corner of the end zone.

Calzada perfectly dropped a pass into Spiller’s breadbasket in the end zone with just three minutes remaining. It was Spiller’s first touchdown catch of his career.

“He wasn’t supposed to be a rollout,” Spiller said. “I could see the way the D-end was playing me. I had a chance to outrun him. He was playing down on the line. I had a wheel route.”

A&M’s equally clutch defense made sure the lead was secure. The Aggies shut down Colorado’s final series in four plays to close out the victory.

The legion of Aggies fans on hand probably left Empower Field at Mile High more relieved than exultant.

There’s also likely confusion about whether to feel encouraged or concerned moving forward.

Coach Jimbo Fisher admitted he experienced both emotions.

“One thing you can say (is) [Calzada] made the plays when it mattered right there at the end. We’ll build on that, fix the other things and move on.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

“You’re concerned, and you’re encouraged,” he said. “You’re both because you’ve got to fix things, but at the same time, to be able to make plays when you’ve got to make plays. I have had guys play great, but in certain times of the games, you’ve got to go make plays, (and) they can’t make them.

“Other guys just find a way to make those plays when it matters. One thing you can say (is) [Calzada] made the plays when it mattered right there at the end. We’ll build on that, fix the other things and move on.”

A&M didn’t make many plays until then. King, whose status is uncertain, appeared to injure an ankle scrambling on A&M’s sixth play. He was taken to the locker room.

A&M’s offense went with him.

The Aggies' next four series produced a mere 12 yards.

On came Calzada. At times, he appeared confused. Other times, he was simply inaccurate.

The Aggies did manage a 41-yard Seth Small field goal to go into halftime trailing, 7-3. They were lucky to be that close.

A&M’s defense wasn’t brilliant in the first half, but it was clutch.

The Aggies allowed 206 yards, including 140 rushing. Quarterback Brendon Lewis picked up 42 of those on two zone reads. That set up a Jarek Broussard 2-yard touchdown run.

That’s all the Aggies allowed, though they needed serious intestinal fortitude to deny the Buffaloes.

Colorado had first down at the A&M 23-yard line early in the second quarter, but DeMarvin Leal’s tackle for a 4-yard loss short-circuited that drive. The Buffaloes settled for a field goal attempt that sliced wide.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M’s defense turned in an outstanding performance, holding Colorado to just seven points on 260 yards of offense.

Colorado’s next drive died on A&M’s 5-yard line. There, defensive end Micheal Clemons stonewalled Lewis’ quarterback sneak fourth-and-one.

“That’s heart and guts and soul,” Fisher said. “That’s culture of an organization. Hopefully, we can build on that.”

The defense certainly did in the second half. The Aggies allowed Colorado just 54 total yards and one first down in the second half. The Buffaloes never moved past their own 40-yard line.

“We didn’t always play well, but we played hard,” Fisher said. “We played tough. We stayed together. We never gave up. We kept making the plays we had to.

“You’ve got to learn to do those things. You have to learn to fight through on days like today. I always say I measure people on their bad days, not their good days. That team kept fighting and scratching and clawing.”

The struggling offense finally found some life in the fourth quarter. The Aggies marched from their own 12 for an apparent 13-yard touchdown run by Calzada.

Replays showed he lost control of the football just before crossing the goal line.

Instead of taking the lead, the Aggies seemed destined to take the loss.

However, A&M forced a three-and-out. Following a punt, the Aggies looked to Calzada to lead a scoring drive. Presto, he did.

“I just told him you’ve been waiting three years for this. It’s your time. Go ball,” star defensive end DeMarvin Leal said.

Fisher told the Aggies something else.

“I told our guys today is judgment day,” Fisher said. “We found out we have fight and heart. We’ve got to find out if we can get execution and precision.

“But we did find out who we are as competitors.”

Discussion from...

No. 5 A&M combines late magic with defensive dominance to survive in Denver

12,428 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 15 days ago by dgrogers88
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Win on the road against a PAC 12 team with a second team QB. I'll take that any day. And, I'll say it: Wrecking Crew!
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In another lifetime the Aggies would not have survived all the setbacks. This win gave them a taste of winning despite adversity…

Gig 'em!
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I certainly would not have described the late win as "magic". Far, far from it. But it is a win.
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No top team makes it to the postseason without a scare along the way. Here's to hoping we got ours out of the way early!!
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