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Fifth-ranked Texas A&M rallies late for 10-7 victory behind backup QB Calzada

Fifth-ranked Texas A&M rallies late for 10-7 victory behind backup QB Calzada

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Texas A M Colorado Football

Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada passes the ball against Colorado in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER – Isiah Spiller’s 18-yard touchdown catch with less than two minutes gave fifth-ranked Texas A&M a hard-fought 10-7 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon at Empower Field.

A&M had to overcome mountain-sized problems after starting quarterback Haynes King was lost to an ankle injury on A&M’s second possession. Backup Zach Calzada struggled until he seemingly put the Aggies ahead with a 13-yard touchdown run with 8 minutes, 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but a review showed that Calzada fumbled just before scoring with Colorado recovering.

A&M’s defense forced a quick punt and Calzada directed an 11-play, 77-yard drive that saw the Aggies convert four straight third downs.

Calzada was in the game because King was injured in his first road start. The redshirt freshman took an option keeper on a third-down run, but was twisted around by Colorado defensive end Guy Thomas and thrown hard to the ground. He hobbled off across the field, but was then taken to the locker room by trainers and was seen unable to put any weight on his right leg. King returned to the sideline in the second quarter in street clothes with crutches and a walking boot on his injured foot.

Calzada was out of sync for most of the game. The Aggies punted on seven of eight of possessions and didn’t get a first down until less than two minutes in the second quarter on a Devon Achane 15-yard run. The rush gave A&M a small spark though, as the Aggies got a Seth Small 41-yard field goal with 25 seconds in the quarter to cut Colorado’s lead to 7-3 at halftime.

A&M’s defense struggled to contain Colorado’s running attack in the first half. The Buffaloes mixed up schemes to keep the Aggies guessing, which then opened up play-action passes. A trio of Texans – quarterback Brendon Lewis and running backs Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot – combined to rush for 139 yards in the first half for Colorado. The Buffaloes scored first on a 2-yard run from Brousard with 2:24 in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.

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