No. 3 Alabama’s 21-game home winning streak ends with a 34-24 loss to No. 11 Texas

Jalen Milroe

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) throws against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

By JOHN ZENOR AP Sports Writer

Quinn Ewers finished what he started last season by passing for 349 yards and three touchdowns and leading No. 11 Texas to a 34-24 victory over third-ranked Alabama on Saturday night.

The Longhorns (2-0) earned their biggest win under Steve Sarkisian in a game that slipped away last season after a red-hot Ewers left with a shoulder injury in the first quarter. He was back and had another big weapon in Adonai Mitchell. This amounted to a Southeastern Conference welcoming moment for a program that will join Alabama & Co. next season.

“Even when things got tough … I love the response and the courage and perseverance that our guys showed,” Sarkisian said.

The Crimson Tide (1-1) have not been without a fight and have now suffered three late games in the last two seasons. Alabama had its 21-game home winning streak ended along with a 57-game stretch against non-conference teams in the regular season beginning in Nick Saban’s debut season in 2007.

Mitchell delivered another great performance against ‘Bama. The Georgia transfer caught touchdown passes of 7 and 39 yards in the fourth quarter. As a freshman, Mitchell’s 40-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the national championship game against the Tide gave Georgia the lead and its first consecutive title.

He also caught the game-winner against Ohio State in the semifinals. Then Mitchell traveled to Texas and experienced another showdown with Alabama.

Sarkisian, a former Alabama offensive coordinator who brought that position to the Texas job, came into the game at Texas 14-12 and had just two wins in nine tries against ranked teams. He left the company with a huge victory over his former boss. The Texas fans remained standing, sometimes breaking out into chants of “SEC.”

Sarkisian reiterated that this game would not mean success or failure for the Longhorns’ season, but added that it was a solid “measurement” of where they are.

“We have a lot of respect for Alabama and I know how well they are coached. I know how hard they play,” he said. “I think it just shows a lot about what we’re capable of. As I said, this game will not define our season. We still have 10 regular season games left.”

Ewers completed 24 of 38 passes and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders had five catches for 114 yards.

Alabama’s Jalen Milroe made great plays in the passing and running games, but was also picked off twice for poor decisions. He was 14 of 27 for 255 yards with two touchdowns.

Alabama didn’t take its first lead until Milroe found Jermaine Burton – also a transfer from two-time defending champion Georgia – in the left corner of the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left in the third quarter. That came after a fourth-down stop when Ewers couldn’t control the snap under center.

That lead turned into a double-digit deficit again within 84 seconds.

Ewers responded immediately with a 50-yard pass and run to Sanders. He then promptly hit Mitchell for his 7-yarder.

Jerrin Thompson stepped in front of Milroe’s pass and ran 32 yards to set up Jonathon Brooks’ 5-yard run. Suddenly it was Texas 27, Alabama 16.

Milroe and ‘Bama weren’t ready yet. Milroe recovered a dropped snap and hit tight end Amari Niblack for a 39-yard touchdown.

Milroe’s two-point pass made it 27-24 with 11:08 left before Mitchell’s long score tied the game.

Alabama’s offensive line was pushed back and forth most of the night. Penalties proved costly. And Saban’s team faces renewed questions after losing two games to the last point last season.

The Crimson Tide will fall in the AP Top 25 College Football poll, but maybe not quite this far.

Alabama plays at South Florida on Saturday.

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