DALLAS (FWAA) – Alabama’s defense rewrote part of the school’s record book, returning three interceptions for touchdowns and outscoring its offense in a 41-23 win at Texas A&M. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, teammates in the secondary, combined for four interceptions and all three scoring returns to earn the AutoNation National Defensive Players of the Week honor for games the weekend of Oct. 17, as selected by the Football Writers Association on America.
Fitzpatrick, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman cornerback from Old Bridge, N.J., became the only player in Alabama history (in records they have back to 1948) to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. His first pick and return of 33 yards to the end zone gave Alabama a 7-0 lead. His 55-yard interception and touchdown return provided the Crimson Tide’s final score that put the game out of reach with 5:18 left.
Jackson, a 6-0, 194-pound junior safety from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., also had two interceptions in the game, and returned one of them 93 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Alabama with a 28-6 lead. The 93-yard return is the third-longest in school history. Jackson also had a 26-yard return on his other interception to the Texas A&M 28-yard line that set up another score. Jackson’s 119 return yards are the most return yards in a game by an Alabama player.
The Crimson Tide’s 207 interception return yards is an Alabama single-game record, and the third-most in SEC history, and the most since Tennessee had 214 against South Carolina in 1971.
“The four interceptions were huge in the game,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “Three scores on defense is unprecedented and probably some kind of record. Minkah (Fitzpatrick) having two is fantastic for a freshman. The thing I’m probably most proud of with our players is when we lost the momentum of the game in the second quarter, when we dominated the game in the first quarter, the players really responded well in the second half to go out there and compete.”
2015 AutoNation FWAA Defensive Players of the Week
• Week of Sept. 5: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
• Week of Sept. 12: Kai Nacua, BYU
• Week of Sept. 19: RJ Williamson, Michigan State
• Week of Sept. 26: Jeremy Cash, Duke
• Week of Oct. 3: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
• Week of Oct. 10: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
• Week of Oct. 17: Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, Alabama