TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Texas A&M's last road trip in its inaugural Southeastern Conference is the stuff they write books about.
The 15th-ranked Aggies, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and an opportunistic defense, pulled off a 29-24 upset of top-ranked Alabama on Saturday.
A&M (8-2, 5-2) beat a top-ranked team on the road for the first time in school history -- and did so in its first trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium before 101,821 fans.
The Aggies took a 20-0 lead after one quarter behind Manziel, who accounted for 345 yards and two touchdowns. But they needed a goal-line stand punctuated by a Deshazor Everett interception to win at a site named for the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant, who coached the Aggies before moving to Alabama and winning six national championships.
Bryant is just one of the many ties between the programs, a connection that helped make A&M's move to the SEC make sense. The Aggies made the move look even better by preventing Alabama (9-1, 6-1) from clinching the SEC Western Division title and probably costing the Crimson Tide a chance to play for their 15th national championship. It also served as another indication that A&M will be a major player in its new league.
"We are the new guys coming in, and we have to prove ourselves," A&M's first-year coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We have to continue to prove ourselves week-in and week-out."
The Aggies are doing that.
A&M has won three straight, including two over ranked opponents. The Aggies also have won eight of their last nine, including all six of their road games.
"Man, words can't describe how I feel," A&M junior defensive end Damontre Moore said. "I haven't felt this way in a long time."
Moore and the defense prevented Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron from winning the game after his 54-yard pass to Kenny Bell drove the ball to the A&M 6.
The Aggie defense stiffened, forcing a fourth-and-goal from the 2. McCarron tried to hit Kenny Bell in the flat, and Everett cut in front for the interception. A&M ran out the final 96 seconds, getting some help when Alabama jumped offsides with A&M in punt formation and 40 seconds still left.
Manziel took the final snap, tossed the ball to an official and the Aggies celebrated.
A&M began the day with a 1-10 all-time record against top-ranked teams with the lone victory 30-26 over Oklahoma in 2002, but that happened in a 6-6 season. This time, the game was the nation's premier matchup of the day, and A&M is now in position for its first 10-win season since 1998 when it won the Big 12.
"This is one of those meaningful experiences that when you reflect back on your college career, you say, 'We did something great,'" Moore said.
Manziel did something great again in A&M's first appearance on the CBS SEC game of the week. He completed 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked four times but hurt Alabama with his legs, gaining 92 yards on 18 carries.
McCarron, meanwhile, completed 21 of 34 passes for 309 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked twice and netted only 1 yard rushing in five carries.
"This game, I could see that Johnny had a different emotion about him," said A&M senior wide receiver Ryan Swope, who had 11 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. "We knew what was at stake for us. We knew that we had to take over and start making plays."
McCarron, who had a game-winning drive in the final minutes of Alabama's 21-17 victory at LSU last week, was in position to top that after he connected with Amari Cooper for a 54-yard touchdown pass with 6:09 left, cutting A&M's lead to 29-24.
"We probably dug a ditch that we couldn't quite get out of," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "You have to give them a lot of credit."
The Aggies started fast thanks to their elusive quarterback, scoring on their first three possessions, but Alabama finally got pressure on Manziel, sparking the Crimson Tide's offense.
Alabama scored touchdowns on its last two possessions of the first half to cut A&M's lead to 20-14.
Alabama's defense set the tone to start the third quarter, holding A&M without a first down on the Aggies' first two possessions. That set up a 28-yard field goal by Jeremy Shelley to pull the Crimson Tide within 20-17 with 4:56 left in third quarter. Moore and safety Howard Matthews teamed up to tackle Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon for no gain on third-and-2 to force that field goal.
Manziel and the Aggies answered with a 16-play, 63-yard drive capped by Taylor Bertolet's 29-yard field goal to make it 23-17. The next time the Aggies had the ball, though, Bertolet missed a 37-yard field goal.
Alabama pounced on the opportunity with McCarron hitting Cooper with a 50-yard pass. But on the next play A&M safety Steven Terrell forced Yeldon to fumble, and A&M cornerback Dustin Harris recovered it at the A&M 34.
It took A&M only two plays to find the end zone.
Manziel threw to Swope for 42 yards. For the touchdown, Malcome Kennedy caught a 24-yard pass on a perfect toss over his outside shoulder.
That gave A&M a 29-17 lead with 8:37 left.
"I said all week, 'We have gotten a little bit better every week,'" Sumlin said.
A&M dominated the first quarter for a 20-0 lead, converting five third downs while Alabama couldn't pick up one.
A&M didn't face a third down on its first possession, scooting 73 yards to take a 7-0 lead on Christine Michael's 1-yard run. The big play was a 29-yard run by Manziel.
A&M's offense had to cover only 41 yards to make it 14-0 after linebacker Sean Porter came up with an interception, stopping McCarron's string of 291 passes without an interception dating back to last year.
Matthews made a crunching hit on Bell, knocking the ball into the air for Porter to make the interception, one of three turnovers for the Tide while the Aggies didn't have a one.
Manziel turned the turnover into points with a highlight 10-yard touchdown pass to Swope. Manziel lost the handle on the football in the pocket in traffic as it popped up, but the ball came back to him. Manziel spun from pressure, and as he was sliding to his left threw the ball across his body to a wide-open Swope in the back of the end zone.
Manziel was back at it after Alabama's offense again ran three plays and punted. Alabama brought pressure to the right of Manziel, who ran around left end for 32 yards to the Alabama 27. Michael capped the 14-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard run on third down.
The Alabama crowd finally had something to cheer about when Bertolet missed the extra point.
That spark led to back-to-back touchdown drives for the Crimson Tide.
Yeldon scored on a 2-yard run with 10:04 left in the half to make it 20-7. The 13-play, 75-yard drive was kept alive on a 4-yard pass to running back Eddie Lacy on fourth-and-4 from the A&M 34.
A&M tried to answer, but was denied when it went for it on fourth-and-6 at the Alabama 37 with Manziel coming up a yard short.
Alabama answered with a 10-play, 67-yard drive capped by Lacy's 2-yard run.