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Texas A&M Football

Looking back on 2021: Texas A&M football's best plays of the season

January 6, 2022
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Defeating the defending national champion and ending its 19-game winning streak doesn’t happen without making a lot of big, memorable plays.

Texas A&M certainly did that in its 41-38 victory over Alabama on Oct. 9. It was certainly the pinnacle of the Aggies’ 2021 football season.

There were big, memorable plays in other games, too.

With that in mind, here’s a look back at some of the best and plays and moments from last season.

Best Touchdown Run

It was far from the longest run by an Aggie this season, but none were more impressive than Isaiah Spiller’s 15-yard touchdown run against Alabama.

He burst through a hole, powered through a couple of tacklers, fell on top of an Alabama player at the 1-yard line and extended the ball over the goal line. That staked A&M to a 24-10 halftime lead.

Best Touchdown Pass

Alabama had wrested the lead away from A&M late in the fourth quarter, but the Aggies responded with an impressive march to the Alabama 25-yard line. From there, Zach Calzada — under tremendous pressure — lofted a perfect pass to Ainias Smith to forge a 38-38 tie with three minutes remaining.

Best Drive

A strong argument could be made for the drive that resulted in the touchdown mentioned above.

However, the Aggies topped it on their ensuing possession.

Taking over at their own 35-yard line following an Alabama punt, Calzada completed clutch passes to Spiller and Smith and also ran for a first down in an eight-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in Seth Small’s game-winning 28-yard field goal.

Best Field Goal

Duh.

Seth Small certainly has a flare for the dramatic.

As Small lined up to attempt a last-play, 28-yard field goal against Alabama, a capacity Kyle Field crowd held its collective breath. His parents prayed. His wife shouted encouragement. The football came off Small’s foot, drifted left and then curved back inside the goal post to clinch a 41-38 victory.

The crowd erupted and his wife was among the thousands that stormed the field.

Best Kickoff Return

Hello, Captain Obvious.

Alabama had just scored a touchdown on a blocked punt to pull within 24-17 midway through the third quarter. The Tide was celebrating. Momentum had shifted. That was likely going to be the turning point.

And then Devon Achane fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 4-yard line.

He ran forward 10 yards, popped through a colonnade of humanity and veered left. He avoided a final would-be tackler at the 35-yard line and then sped to the end zone for a 96-yard touchdown.

Best Punt Return

More from Captain Obvious.

Ainias Smith shunned conventional wisdom and fielded South Carolina’s first punt at his own 5-yard line. At least in this instance, the Aggies were glad he did.

Smith broke through the first wave of coverage, angled across the field, picked up a clearing block from Edgerrin Cooper and stripped down the sideline to complete a 95-yard touchdown.

Best Sack

The competition wasn’t that great, but the play was spectacular.

Antonio Johnson blitzed unnoticed from the right side and unloaded on Prairie View quarterback Jawon Pass. The impact forced a fumble which Aaron Hansford scooped up and ran 17 yards for a touchdown.

Best Interception

Trailing A&M 17-7 in the second quarter, Alabama faced third-and-goal from the Aggies’ 1-yard line.

Surprisingly, the Tide eschewed a running play. Demani Richardson made them regret that decision.

Richardson undercut Bryce Young’s pass for tight end Jahleel Billingsley to make the interception in the end zone and deny Alabama a scoring opportunity.

Best Fumble Recovery

Unable to reach the end zone, A&M held a precarious 9-3 lead over Auburn early in the fourth quarter.

The visiting Tigers were facing second-and-10 on their own 35-yard line when quarterback Bo Nix drifted out of the pocket to his left. Defensive tackle Jayden Peevy converged and forced the panicked Nix to drop the football at the 29-yard line.

Defensive end Micheal Clemons swooped in to pick up the fumble at the 24-yard line and rumbled into the end zone.

It was the Aggies' only touchdown in a 20-3 victory.

Best Call

SEC officials historically haven’t done A&M a lot of favors.

However, at least they made an obvious call which proved critical in the win over Alabama.

Tied 38-38 with 20 seconds left, A&M had second-and-6 at the Alabama 27-yard line. Calzada lofted a slightly-underthrown pass to tight end Jalen Wydermyer, who had gotten behind safety DeMarco Hellams. Wydermyer adjusted to try to catch the pass, but Hellams ran into him at the 7-yard line.

That drew a pass interference penalty, which preceded Small’s game-winning field goal.

Worst (non) Call

LSU’s Trey Palmer was struggling to get extra yardage on a punt return late in the fourth quarter with A&M leading 24-20. Demani Richardson stripped the ball from Palmer, which would have clinched an A&M victory.

Instead, SEC officials ruled — erroneously — that Palmer’s forward progress had been stopped and awarded the possession of the football to LSU.

The decision might have been influenced by the fact the play occurred at the 33-yard line in front of the LSU bench. You know what happened from there.

Discussion from...

Looking back on 2021: Texas A&M football's best plays of the season

4,479 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by aggieclay
NumberEinAg
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AG
Demani Richardson's strip on the LSU Punt Return should be one of the greatest defensive plays in A&M history, yet it "never happened". During the Bowl Season and NFL Games since the LSU Game I've seen 3 or 4 similar plays and the Defense has always been awarded the ball. There's simply no excuse for the pathetic officiating we have so often been victim to in the SEC. I don't know if Jimbo and Ross have any influence, but that would be one of my #1 objectives in the off-season. Get this **** fixed!
"They who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin
kevinmw55
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I was in a good mood remembering the season then you had to include the worst no call!
Acebravo
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Aggie football on the come up for sure, better watch out next year
aggieclay
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To all the SEC officials, get bent!!!
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