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Texas A&M QB Zach Calzada Writes His Own History Against Alabama

Zach Calzada prevailed against all odds for an upset in Aggieland

COLLEGE STATION -- Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher could have made a call. The Aggies were tied 38-all with No. 1 Alabama and had just received a punt. 

Would he do it? Would he risk putting in a quarterback who needed help to get off the field following a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ainias Smith?

Maybe Zach Calzada made the decision for him. He entered this game as perhaps college football's most scrutinized quarterback, and he sure as hell wasn't going leaving the game without one final drive. 

A week before, Calzada was seen crying on the sidelines following a 26-22 loss to Mississippi State. He felt the world on his shoulders, knowing that A&M's goal of reaching the College Football Playoff was likely dead. 

Fans booed. They were upset after the season that was supposed to be special was fading fast. A week later at Kyle Field, filled with more than 106,000 strong, those same fans to chant his name. 

"CAL-ZA-DA! CAL-ZA-DA!" 

He delivered once more as he did all night. Eight plays, two completions and a pass interference call later, Seth Small would nail a 28-yard field goal as time expired. 

Down goes Alabama. The moment was captured as thousands rushed the field to celebrate perhaps the program's most prominent win since A&M last upset the Crimson Tide in 2012.

Welcome to the history books, kid. 

READ MORE: Tide Rolled As Texas A&M Scores Upset 

"Zach is a guy who’s going to get up off the mat and keep fighting," Small said postgame. "He knows that he didn’t play to the best of his ability the past couple of weeks."

Who knows what the future holds for A&M (4-2, 1-2 SEC) following the 41-38 upset over No. 1 Alabama (5-1, 2-1) in Aggieland. Entering Saturday, who would have thought this would be the outcome?

The Aggies' offense fell flat against Arkansas in Arlington. It somewhat bounced back, but far too late against the Bulldogs at home. 

What was expected to be the game of the season during the summer seemed like a one-sided battle before kickoff. 

It lived up to the offseason hype and, in large part, Calzada was at the center of college football's biggest upset this season. 

"To see how he’s matured as a person, as a football player, as a leader on this team had been incredible," Small said. 

READ MORE: Jimbo Fisher Does 'Beat (Nick Saban's) Ass'

Calzada started hot. He completed 10 straight passes, two of which went for touchdowns to give A&M the early 17-7 lead. He connected with speedy Devon Achane for a 33-yard gain, ultimately playing a catalyst role in the Isaiah Spiller 15-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. 

Halftime arrived. A&M was leading 24-10, and Nick Saban had to be shocked. Things change quickly. 

A&M's offense fell flat for most of the third quarter. Calzada barely missing Smith for what would have been a 50-plus yard touchdown. On the flip side, Alabama's offense began to click. 

Bryce Young, an early favorite for the Heisman Trophy, connected with wide receiver Jameson Williams for a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Tide down by a score. They settled for two field goals from Will Reichard to chip away before Young would find Williams again for the 7-yard touchdown. 

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The pressure was on Calzada. He showed what he's got. 

Following the Mississippi State loss, social media lost its mind on the Aggies. How could a team expected to contend for the College Football Playoff lose to the Hogs and a rebuilding Mississippi State team? 

Calzada took it the worst. People always blame the quarterback. Twitter came calling for Calzada's head after he was sacked in the end zone for a safety, sealing the loss to MSU. 

Tweets such as "Worst quarterback in A&M history" were joined by others like "I can play better than this kid at this point." 

“It’s the hardest position to play in sports, period,” Fisher said. “There’s not a harder position in any sport to play than quarterback.”

This time, the Aggie faithful were behind their quarterback. Twitter was silenced. 

READ MORE: Texas A&M's Offense Finds Confidence In Alabama Upset

Down 38-31, Calzada led the perfect drive to lead the Aggies back. He found Smith on first down for a 17-yard gain. Four plays later, he connected with Jalen Wydermyer for a gain of 12 that put the Aggies outside of the Alabama's red zone. 

As the pocket collapsed, Calzada heaved a pass downfield to Smith for the score. However, he wasn't getting up. He was swallowed up by a pair of Alabama defenders and needed help by the staff to get off the field. 

Fisher watched his quarterback enter the medical tent. Freshman walk-on Blake Bost started to throw, while A&M's defense forced a three-and-out to give the Aggies one last chance to put this thing away. 

Calzada emerged from the medical tent like a boxer beating the bell. He took the field, and the rest is history. 

“That’s what football is,” Fisher said. “You get up off the canvas. You get the heck knocked out of you, you gotta go play. Gotta go play the next play.”

There's only a handful of quarterbacks that have ever taken down the Tide under the Saban regime. Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Joe Burrow, Jarrett Stidham, Deshaun Watson and Bo Nix top the list. 

READ MORE: Game Log: Texas A&M Shocks No. 1 Alabama, 41-38

The difference between them and Calzada? All were projected to start before the season. Calzada lost out to freshman Haynes King during the summer in what Fisher dubbed a "close battle." 

Maybe when King returns, the Aggies will call his number. Perhaps Fisher plays the hot hand and runs it back with Calzada.

But for the night, maybe just one night, Calzada was the "guy" for A&M. Everything Fisher saw during camp came to life. He told reporters postgame that "You write your own history." 

As fans carried him off the field, covered in sweat and sore all over, Calzada did just that. 


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