Tide Dominates Hogs In All Phases
At some point, good offense will beat good defense. But not Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Alabama showed once again that good defense and efficient offense can smother a team with talented, but predictable, reliance on offense.
Alabama, ranked second in the nation, opened Southeastern Conference play with a 38-14 win over 12th ranked Arkansas. Bama is now 4-0, while the Razorbacks fell to 3-1.
Alabama continues in SEC play next week, going on the road to Florida. Gametime will be 7 p.m. CDT (8 eastern time) with television coverage by CBS.
A.J. McCarron solidified his hold on Alabama's quarterback position with a solid outing. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson completed 22 of 35 passes, but had a costly interception. He had two touchdown passes and 185 yards.
Trent Richardson had 17 rushes for 126 yards and caught three passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, including a short inside screen pass he turned into a 61-yard touchdown play.
Marquis Maze had four punt returns for 125 yards, including one for an 83-yard touchdowns, and caught five passes for 40 yards.
Alabama had 39 rushes for 197 yards and 59 plays for 397 yards, an average of 6.7 yards per play. Arkansas had 19 rushes for only 17 net yards and 209 yards passing for 59 plays for 226 yards, an average of 3.8 per play.
Dequan Menzie had an interception return for a touchdown.
Alabama had nearly seven minutes advantage in time of possession.
Alabama's defense was led by linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who was in on nine tackles, including two for loss. Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron were in on six tackles each. Dee Milliner also turned in an interception.
Alabama Statistics Vs. Arkansas:
It was trickery and deceit for Alabama's first touchdown. Facing fourth and four from the Arkansas 37, the Tide lined up up for an apparent 54-yard field goal attempt by Cade Foster. But with quarterback A.J. McCarron the holder, the team broke from the field goal formation. McCarron took the snap in spread formation and completed a 37-yard pass to a wide open tight end Mike Williams for the touchdown with just over three minutes elapsed. Jeremy Shelley kicked it to 7-0.
Bama had driven 80 yards in seven plays. In addition to the long touchdown pass, Bama had runs of 9 and 21 yards by Trent Richardson and a 12-yard McCarron to Marquis Maze pass.
Arkansas tied the game with 1:18 to play in the first quarter when Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson completed a 10-yard pass to running back Dennis Johnson. That completed a drive of 63 yards in 12 plays.
It looked as if Alabama's defense had been bailed out when the Razorbacks were called for holding to negate an apparent 26-yard touchdown run by Ronnie Wingo. Instead, Arkansas was back at its 33 facing second and 17. Two passes got the first down and set up the touchdown. Zack Hocker kicked it to 7-7.
Arkansas had started the drive with a somewhat short field at the Razorbacks 37 because of a short Alabama punt on which the Tide was penalized for interference with the catch. Cornerback DeQuan Menzie was the guilty party on the interference, but he would more than make up for that transgression in the second quarter.
Alabama's offense was at its best and at its worst on a series starting at the Alabama 21 early in the second quarter. The Tide drove 78 yards to a first down inside the Arkansas 1. But a quarterback sneak and a handoff to Jalston Fowler failed to get the ball in the end zone. On third down, the Tide tried a deep handoff to Richardson, which was smothered at the three. On fourth down the Tide settled for a 20-yard Shelley field goal and an uncomfortable 10-7 lead. The 13-play drive had consumed 7:18.
Moments later the Tide could breathe a little easier. On a third-and-seven play from the Arkansas 23, the Hogs Wilson tried a flat pass. Menzie deflected the ball with his right hand, almost like a volleyball player setting up the ball, and then Menzie caught it at the 25 and went in untouched for the touchdown. Shelley's kick made it 17-7, which was the halftime score.
At the half Bama had one touchdown out of a special teams shift and one defensive touchdown. To open the second half, it was the special teams striking again.
After Arkansas' first series stalled at the Arkansas 41. The Razorbacks punted to Marquis Maze at the Alabama 17. Maze started up the middle, breaking through the first wave, went down the right sideline where he slowed to allow his blockers to get in front of him, then went back to the middle and into the end zone to complete an 83-yard touchdown return. Shelley's kick with 11:29 left in the third quarter make it 24-7 in favor of Bama.
Maze's next punt return wasn't quite as dramatic, but drama was to follow shortly. Arkansas had a three-and-out and punted to Maze at the Alabama 21. He ran it to the 36. A Richardson run gained three. On second down, McCarron hit a short pass to Richardson and the junior tailback turned it into a 61-yard touchdown. With 9:57 remaining in the third quarter Shelley's extra point kick made it Bama 31, Hogs 7.
Arkansas did not give up. After a 30-yard kickoff return by Dennis Johnson gave the Hogs starting position at the Arkansas 42, Wilson completed a 39-yard pass to the Alabama 19. Two passes were incomplete, but then Cobi Hamilton made an excellent catch on a high pass in the back of the end zone. With 8:54 it was 31-14.
Alabama did not respond well, punting it back to the Razorbacks. With the aid of a 15-yard penalty against Bama's Dont'a Hightower, the Razorbacks drove into Alabama territory and faced third and one at the Tide 43. The Hogs gambled on a long pass that was broken up by Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick. On fourth down, Hightower atoned with a stuff on the Arkansas ball-carrier, stopping the play for a one-yard loss.
And Alabama took advantage. Starting at the Alabama 44, McCarron completed a 15-yard pass to H-back Brad Smelley. Afer just missing on a long pass to Maze, McCarron went back to the ground with Richardson gaining nine yards on second down. On third and one, Richardson took it over right tackle for 25 yards to the Arkansas seven. It took Eddie Lacy two runs to get the touchdown with 48 seconds to play in the third quarter. Alabama had a 38-14 lead after Shelley kicked the point after.
And the point had been made.
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