McCarron Passes Tide Past Vandy

Nick Saban isn't the first Alabama football coach to have a highly-ranked Crimson Tide play down to the level of Vanderbilt. In the first half Saturday night, Bama looked barely better than the second best team in Bryant-Denny Stadium, not the number two team in the nation.

But all's well that ends well. Alabama finally got its game in gear with quarterback A.J. McCarron throwing four touchdown passes and went on to a 34-0 victory over Vanderbilt in the Crimson Tide's homecoming game.

Alabama improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Southeastern Conference games, while the Commodores fell to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in conference games.

Alabama continues in SEC play next week, going on the road to Ole Miss. The Rebels had an open date this weekend. Bama and Mississippi will kick off at 5 p.m. CDT with television coverage by ESPN2.

One problem for Bama Saturday night was the Tide's short passing game was much too short. In the first half, the Tide had a handful of completed passes that actually lost yardage and several others that gained just a yard or two. In the first half, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron had some excellent numbers -- 18 of 23 for two touchdowns and no interceptions, but his 18 completions were for only 143 yards.

The rushing game was just as dismal, 14 rushes for 46 yards.

Nevertheless, Alabama managed a 14-0 first half lead on the strength of the two McCarron touchdown passes and Vanderbilt missing on a pair of field goal opportunities.

Things picked up in the second half and Alabama finished in dominating fashion statistically. Alabama had 24 first downs, Vanderbilt 8. The Tide had 43 rushes for 153 yards, while the Commodores had 19 runs for 41 yards. Bama completed 26 of 33 passes for 266 yards with no interception; Vandy was good on 15-24 with two interceptions for 149 yards.

Alabama had 76 plays for 419 yards, Vandy 43 for 190 and a time of possession advantage of 36:14 to 23:46.

Vanderbilt converted only one of 10 third down opportunities, while the Tide was good on 12 of 17.

Trent Richardson had his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 19 carries for 107 yards and Bama's lone rushing touchdown.

McCarron completed 23 of 30 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns.

Marquis Maze had nine receptions for 93 yards, Darius Hanks five for 60, and DeAndrew White three for 58 with two touchdowns.

Mark Barron ld the Tide defensively with six tackles and two pass break-ups.

Alabama vs. Vanderbilt Statistics:

It was a bit of a surprise when Vanderbilt won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. That meant that Alabama got the football first. The Commodores short-kicked to Michael Williams so the Tide started at its own 33. It proved to be a good decision as the Tide had to punt three plays later. It was, however, just putting off what most considered to be the inevitable.

Alabama lost 16 yards on an exchange of punts, starting from its 23 on its second possession, but then marched the 77 yards in 10 plays and 3:22. Halfway through the first period, A.J. McCarron connected with Brad Smelley on a third down pass from the Vanderbilt six for the touchdown. Jeremy Shelley kicked it to 7-0.

McCarron completed passes of 12 yards and 19 yards to Darius Hanks and eight yards to DeAndrew White, and Trent Richardson ran for 20 yards to the Vanderbilt 13 to set up the touchdown.

Vanderbilt had a nice drive into Alabama territory, but on a third and inches from inside the Tide 27, Commodores quarterback Larry Smith was stuffed by Tide nose tackle Josh Chapman on a quarterback draw. That forced a 47-yard field goal attempt of 47 yards by Carey Spear. It was just short, hitting the cross bar and bouncing back, no good, with 3:11 left in the first quarter.

Smith appeared to be injured on the draw and on subsequent Vandy offensive series the quarterback was Jordan Rodgers. Rodgers directed a nice drive into Alabama territory, but the Commodores had to settle for another field goal attempt. This one from 38 yards was wide right.

Alabama closed out first half scoring with only 21 seconds remaining until intermission. McCarron did a nice job of directing a 13-play, 78-yard drive that took 3:57. The Tide march got bailed out by an early pass interference call against the Commodores that gave Bama the ball at midfield.

McCarron hit Marquis Maze on a 29-yard gain to the Vanderbilt 25 with 54 seconds remaining in the half. Back-to-back completions to Smelley got it to the 12 and a completion to Maze put it at the five with 32 seconds to play. McCarron was under pressure and overthrew an open Hanks in the end zone, but made up for it on third-and-three.

It appeared McCarron could have scrambled into the end zone, but he passed to DeAndrew White at the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Shelley's kick made it 14-0 at intermission.

McCarron directed an excellent drive on Bama's first second half possession, although the quarterback attempted and completed only one pass in the march. After a block-in-the-back penalty wiped out a nice Maze punt return and started Alabama at its own 6, the Tide went 94 yards in 12 plays.

Trent Richardson started the drive with three runs that gave Bama some breathing room. Moments later Richardson stacked nice runs, a 19-yarder and a 24-yarder, to push the Tide to the Vandy 26. Jalston Fowler took over at tailback and in a couple of carries had it inside the five. Richardson returned to tailback and run it in with 6:03 left in the third quarter.

Alabama began to stretch it out late in the third quarter, although an impressive touchdown had the ignominy of Shelley's first missed extra point of the season.

The third touchdown pass of the night for McCarron was a 39-yard, third down pass to DeAndrew White, who split a couple of Vandy defenders and made a fine catch. The Tide had a 27-0 lead after Shelley's missed PAT.

McCarron had a 19-yard gain on a short pass to Maze to get it moving, Richardson ran for 10, and McCarron completed a 12-yard pass to Brandon Gibson before the scoring pass.

McCarron got his fourth touchdown pass of the night following a nice interception and return by Dee Milliner. Milliner picked Rodgers at the Tide 43 and ran it down to the Vandy 20. On a third down play, Darius Hanks got open in the end zone and McCarron hit him for the touchdown. Shelley kicked it to 34-0 with 12:16 remaining in the game.

Nico Johnson gave the Tide an opportunity for another score when the Bama linebacker turned in an interception at the Vanderbilt 37 with about 10 minutes to play. Alabama substitutes, including Phillip Sims at quarterback, took over and the Tide was unable to get into scoring position before turned the ball over to the Commodores.

After a shanked Vandy punt, the Tide kept the ball until almost the end, again coming up short in Commodores territory.

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