Alabama Dominates Over Penn State

It was not a national championship performance. There were hiccoughs, a few pieces seemingly missing from the Crimson Tide of a year before. Nevertheless, Bama's number one ranking won't be in jeopardy this week after a dominating performance against Penn State.

Alabama took a 24-3 victory over Penn State before 101,821 in Bryant-Denny Stadium and a national television audience Saturday. The three points surrendered by the Tide came with 9:47 to play and Bama clearly in control. Alabama led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 17-0 at halftime, before going up 24-0 going into the final period.

Alabama improved to 2-0, while Penn State (ranked 14th in the nation in the Coaches Poll and 18th by the Associated Press) fell to 1-1.

The Nittany Lions of Coach Joe Paterno suffered four turnovers, three of them when Penn State seemed to be threatening. Mark Barron, Robert Lester, and Will Lowery had interceptions for the Tide and Barron forced a fumble that was recovered by Lester.

Game Statistics:

Trent Richardson rushed for 144 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries and Greg McElroy completed 16 of 24 passes for 229 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Alabama had 58 plays for 409 yards while holding Penn State to 283 yards on 62 plays.

Alabama continues non-conference play next week and has its first road game. The Crimson Tide will be at Duke on Saturday with kickoff at 3:30 EDT (2:30 central time) with national television coverage by ABC.

Alabama had some penalty problems early in the game. Bama's first drive after the opening kickoff was set back to the Tide 9-yard line because of a block in the back. On Bama's second series of the game, the Bama offense was called for a holding penalty, the first time since the middle of last season for that call against Alabama. Bama had gone 42 quarters without a holding penalty on the offense.

After the holding call, Alabama faced second and 12 at the Penn State 36. The Tide had been in a five-wide set-up the entire drive, with tailback Trent Richardson one of the wide receivers. Greg McElroy found Kevin Norwood going across the middle and Norwood took it to the end zone, finishing with a somersault flourish. Jeremy Shelley kicked the Tide to a 7-0 lead, completing the five-play, 68-yard drive.

Along the way, McElroy completed passes of 21 yards to Julio Jones, Darius Hanks for 14, and Marquis Maze for 8.

Penn State responded with a nice drive into Alabama territory, but on a third-and-eight from the Alabama 20, Lions freshman quarterback Robert Bolden was pressured by Tide linebacker Dont'a Hightower and the resulting poor pass was intercepted by Bama walk-on safety Will Lowery at the Alabama 3.

Trent Richardson got the Tide out of a hole with three excellent runs -- 11 yards, 16, and 33 yards to the Penn State 37. Eddie Lacy relieved him and went seven yards, then Richardson from wildcat formation got the first down at the 26. Richardson ran for nine more, then McElroy completed a pass for eight yards to Julio Jones. After a motion penalty, the second quarter started with McElroy hitting senior tight end/H-back Preston Dial on a 14-yard touchdown play. It was Dial's first Bama touchdown. Shelley kicked Alabama to a 14-0 lead.

Penn State went from knocking on one goal line, to getting out of another early in the second quarter. The Lions had moved to the Alabama 16 when Bolden completed a short pass to wide receiver Chaz Powell. Powell was hit by Bama's Mark Barron and fumbled at the nine, where it was picked up by the Tide's Robert Lester. Lester returned it 75 yards, thought to be an Alabama record, to the Penn State 16. He was stripped of the ball and Penn State got it back at its own two-yard line -- an effective loss of 89 yards on the exchange. The Tide's Dre Kirkpatrick probably should have recovered Lester's fumble, but attempted to scoop it up and couldn't get control.

When it was all over, Penn State was able to move out to its 14, where the Lions punted to Bama at the Crimson Tide 40. Bama was able to drive to a first-and-goal at the nine on a 29-yard McElroy to Richardson pass, but the offense stalled there and Shelley kicked the first field goal of his Alabama career. His 31-yard effort gave Bama a 17-0 lead with 3:54 to play until halftime.

Bama got one more first half chance for points when the Tide forced a Penn State punt and took over at its 35 with 2:07 to play. Bama drove to the Lions 28 on the strength of a 31-yard pass to Maze, but then Julio dropped a pass, McElroy was sacked for a nine-yard loss, and finally Cade Foster missed on a 44-yard field goal.

Alabama moved to a 24-0 lead on the second play of the fourth quarter, a one-yard run by Richardson. The Tide drove 71 yards in 12 plays, four of them passes to Richardson, and the big one a 20-yard McElroy to Maze pass for a first down at the six as the third quarter ended. After Richardson took it in, Shelley kicked the extra point.

It was a bit of a surprise when Penn State elected to kick a field goal with 9:47 to play. The Lions had driven deep into Alabama territory, in part by completing a pass on a fourth-and-six situation. From the 19-yard line, the Lions faced a fourth-and-nine and this time called on Collin Wagner to kick a 36-yard field goal and end scoring for the game.

Alabama increased its streak of not allowing an opposing rusher to gain 100 yards to 36 consecutive games, best in the SEC. Penn State had been third in the nation, having not allowed a rusher to get 100 yards in 17 games before Richardson shredded them. Top rusher for the Lions was Evan Royster, who will eventually be Penn State's all-time leading rusher. He came into the game needing just 42 rushing yards to become a 3,000 career yards rusher. He finished with 32 yards on nine carries.

Penn State's freshman quarterback, Robert Bolden, completed 13 of 29 passes with two interceptions for 144 yards.

Ed Stinson, who started in place of jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw, had five primary tackles and four assists. LInebacker Jerrell Harris had six primary tackles and an assist, Barron four primaries and two assists.

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