Tide Settles For 40-7 Win Over Owls

Florida Atlantic does not go down in history as another shutout victim of the Alabama defense. The Owls got a touchdown with 2:49 to play at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, the first score against the Crimson Tide since the opening game. But it was, as they say, too little, too late, so if not a shut-out victim, FAU at least was a victim.

Number one ranked Alabama had some warts, but was still more than capable in defeating Florida Atlantic, 40-7, to keep the Crimson Tide undefeated at 4-0. Florida Atlantic, which scored late in the fourth quarter against back-up Bama defenders, fell to 1-3.

Alabama returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium next week and has its first home Southeastern Conference game when the Crimson Tide hosts Ole Miss in a game that will kick off at 8:15 p.m. – yes, that is correct, 8:15 p.m. – and be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2. Alabama is 1-0 in SEC games.

Primarily because Alabama settled for field goals on four occasions, the margin of victory was not as great as might have been expected. Nevertheless, the field goal kicking was part of an overall very fine special teams game, and the Tide did keep its perfect record of Red Zone scores intact.

As would be expected, Alabama dominated in the statistics. Six of the seven FAU first downs and 75 of the total offense of 110 yards came on a late fourth quarter drive against Bama second and third team defensive players. Alabama had 25 first downs and 503 yards.

Alabama had 47 rushes for 256 yards compared to FAU having 32 runs for 76 yards. Bama completed 16 of 26 passes for 247 yards, the Owls 7-13 for 34 yards. Neither team suffered an interception. Bama lost one of four fumbles, while Florida Atlantic did not fumble, meaning there were no takeaways for the Tide defense.

In total offense, it was FAU 45 plays for 110 yards, Aalbama 73 plays for 503 yards.

Alabama had a 33:13 to 26:47 advantage in time of possession. Florida Atlantic converted on just 1-12 third down plays, while the Tide converted on 7-14.

Eddie Lacy carried 15 times for 106 yards, T.J. Yeldon had 10 runs for 63 yards, and Kenyan Drake had five carries for 35 yards and Bama's only rushing touchdown.

A.J. McCarron completed 15 of 25 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

Amari Cooper had four receptions for 65 yards, Michael Williams 4-25, and DeAndrew White 4-17. Kenny Bell had only one, but it was a gem, an 85-yard touchdown on the game's third play.

In special teams play the Tide's Jesse Williams blocked FAU's only field goal attempt. Cade Foxter was good on his only two field goal tries, from 52 and 46 yards, and had seven touchbacks in nine kickoffs. Jeremy Shelley made two field goals (26, 30) and all four of his extra point tries. Punter Cody Mandell made only one appearance, knocking a punt inside the 20. Christion Jones returned four punts for 61 yards (but suffered the game's lone turnover when he fumbled) and Dee Hart ran back two punts for 28 yards. Jones had two kickoff returns for 25 total yards.

Defensively, linebacker C.J. Mosley was in on the most tackles, six, but all were assists. Freshman Tyler Hayes and veteran Damion Square were both in on five tackles. Square, Robert Lester, Jeoffrey Pagan, and Mosley were involved in sacks.

Alabama scored with a dramatic play in The Opening moments of the first quarter and on an impressive drive to score in the final seconds of the second quarter to take a 30-0 halftime lead.

After a bit of a stutter to get the game started, on the third play of the game – third and 10 from the 15 – AJ McCarron found Kenny Bell on a crossing pattern. Bell took the ball at the 24 and raced untouched to the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown. Jeremy Shelley kicked it to 7-0 just 1:37 into the game.

McCarron got his second touchdown pass to finish a 12-play, 63-yard drive with 6:12 remaining in the quarter. DeAndrew White made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone and came down in bounds for the score. Eddie Lacy had five carries for 37 yards and four first downs in the drive that gave Bama a 14-0 lead.

It looked as though Florida Atlantic might put points on the board when the Owls got the ball deep in Alabama territory. The Tide defense had forced a punt, but Christion Jones fumbled it to FAU at the Alabama 25. Three plays, however, lost six yards, forcing a 48-yard field goal that was blocked by Bama nose tackle Jesse Williams.

Alabama would score on every offensive possession of the first half, but not all of the scores were touchdowns. After the blocked field goal, Bama started on a drive that would be stopped at the 35 as the second quarter started. On the second play of the quarter, Cade Foster was good on a 52-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead.

Alabama fell into a bit of a field goal rut. The Tide defense was forcing punts on three-and-outs (the Owls had only one first down in the first half). After taking over at the FAU 40 following a Christion Jones 31-yard return, the Tide got a 23-yard pass play from McCarron to Amari Cooper. But the drive stalled at the nine and Shelley kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 20-0 lead.

Bama's next possession started at its 42. A 15-yard run by Lacy, on which he had both a spin and a vicious stiff arm, and a 14-yard gain on a pass from McCarron to tight end Mike Williams, put Bama deep into FAU territory, but the Tide had to settle for a 30-yard Shelley field goal and a 23-0 advantage.

The Owls got their initial first down with 4:36 to play and then four plays later had a nice punt, 57 yards and out of bounds at the Alabama 5 with only 2:46 to play.

Alabama would go the 95 yards (and overcome a holding penalty) and use all but five seconds of the available time. Lacy had runs of 11 and 14 to get the drive started. McCarron completed passes of 22 and 16 yards to Amari Cooper. A personal foul moved the ball to the FAU 19. Three plays were a little short of the first down, but on fourth down with 25 seconds to play, Lacy went up the middle for six yards and a fist down. From the four, McCarron was in shotgun formation and dropped the snap, but picked the ball up and tossed to Christion Jones for the touchdown and a 30-0 lead at intermission.

Alabama made it 33-0 with a somewhat disappointing start to the second half. On what would be McCarron's last action of the day, he completed an 11 yard pass to tight end Mike Williams, got a 15-yard run by T.J. Yeldon, and scrambled for a first down at the FAU 21. But after a poor run play lost four yards and McCarron was sacked and fumbled (rcovered by Bama's D.J. Fluker), the Tide had to settle for a 46-yard Foster field goal and a 33-0 lead.

That would be it for third quarter scoring as Phillip Ely and Blake Sims began alternating at quarterback. In the fourth quarter the substitution parade would get Macy's Thanksgiving big.

The Tide had seemed sure to get more third quarter punts after Blake threw a quick out to Cyrus Jones. The freshman raced down the sideline for 35 yards to the FAU 29 with his first reception. But the rest of the drive was killed by Sims being sacked for a 16-yard loss, resulting in Cody Mandell making his first appearance of the game to punt with 1:47 remaining in the quarter.

All back-up offensive players were in the game for Alabama at the start of the fourth quarter as Bama started from the FAU 44 following a punt and 13-yard return by Hart. Freshman Kenyan Drake had a nine-yard run between a no gain and a one-yard loss by Sims, but on fourth down Sims scrambled for the first down at the 33. From there Drake went nine yards and then 15 to the nine. After Sims got a yard, Drake hit at right tackle, bounced outside, and went in for the touchdown with 11:13 to play.

Florida Atlantic got to work against Bama defensive back-ups and took advantage with a nice 15-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown with 2:49 remaining in the game. Quarterback Graham Wilbert connected with tight end Alex Deleon from the six-yard line for the first score against Bama in three games. The Owls had five first downs, four of them on that drive.

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