No Surprise As Tide Routs UTC
Alabama, ranked first in the nation, ran its record to 11-0 and closed out its Bryant-Denny Stadium season with its Senior Day victory over the UTC Mocassins. Chattanooga is 8-4 and waiting to see if it makes playoff level.
Alabama, 7-0 in Southeastern Conference games, completes regular season play next Saturday at Auburn. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. CST with television coverage by CBS. Auburn, 10-1, had an open date this week. The winner of the game will represent the Western Division in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta Dec. 7.
As would be expected, the statistics were heavily weighted for the Crimson Tide. Bama had 22 first downs to 8 for Chattanooga. Alabama rushed 32 times for 251 yards, 7.8 yards per carry, compared to 35 runs for 93 yards for the Mocs, 2.7 yards per carry. Alabama did not have a rushing play that lost yardage and had four rushing touchdowns.
Bama completed 15 of 20 passes for 184 yards with no interceptions and two touchdowns. UTC completed 10-15 for 82 yards with one intercepted.
Total offense for the Tide was 52 plays for 435 yards, 8.4 per play, while the Mocs had 50 plays for 175 yards, 3.5 per play.
Both teams had two fumbles with one lost. The Mocs were penalized six times for 50 yards, Bama twice for 20. Bama was 4-7 on third down conversions, UTC 4-14. And proof that time of possession can be a misleading statistic, Chattanooga had the ball for 34:24, Alabama 25:36.
Kenyan Drake led Bama in rushinbg with 11 carries for 77 yards as regular starter T.J. Yeldon was held out of the game after suffering a slight ankle injury last week. Derrick Henry had 6 runs for 66 yards. A.J. McCarron completed 13 of 16 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Blake Sims was good on 2-4 for 13 yards. Kevin Norwood had 4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, Amari Cooper 3 receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. Christion Jones had 2 punt returns for 75 yards, one of them a 75-yard touchdown return.
Safety Landon Collins and linebacker C.J. Mosley led Bama in tackles with seven each (Collins 5 primary and 1 for loss, Mosley 4 primary and 2 for loss), while freshman Reuben Foster was in on five tackles, including one for a loss. Trey DePriest was also in on five tackles and had an interception. Freshman A'Shwan Robinson had a blocked field goal.
The kicking game certainly played a big part in Bama's 28-0 halftime lead.
Christion Jones had a 75-yard punt return for one touchdown, while A'Shawn Robinson blocked a Chattanooga field goal attempt that led to a Bama touchdown.
Although it would be inaccurate to say that Bama's offense was spectacular, it had spectacular moments.
Alabama got its first possession at its own 17 when Trey DePriest intercepted a fourth down Chattanooga pass. From there it took the Tide just five plays and less than two minutes to go to a 7-0 lead. The first two plays didn't get much, but on third-and-nine quarterback AJ McCarron found fellow senior Kevin Norwood on a 50 yards gain. The Mocs were guilty of facemask on the tackle and the Tide was at the Chattanooga 17. Two plays later, Kenyan Drake – who started in place of T.J. Yeldon – went around right end for 13 yards and the touchdown. Cade Foster kicked it to 7-0.
Late in the quarter the Tide started from its 20 after a Chattanooga punt. Drake had runs of 19, 4, and 15 yards for first downs at the UTC 32 and then gave way to freshman Derrick Henry at tailback. Henry's first run of the game was for 27 yards and a first down at the Mocs 5. He took it in on the second try for the touchdown. The seven-play, 80-yard drive took less than three minutes.
And it would be less than three minutes before Bama would have another score.
All in the kicking game was not perfect. Alabama was a little late to the offensive game owing to Christion Jones mishandling a rugby-style bouncing punt and giving the Mocassins a new set of downs on Chattanooga's first possession. But Jones made everyone forget that bobble when the Mocs punted with just over 10 minutes to play in the second quarter.
Jones took the ball at the Tide 25, made a tackler miss, then got to the sideline, where Kenny Bell's block cleared out the final potential tackler. Jones's third kick return for a touchdown this year (he had both a punt return and a kickoff return for scores in the season-opener against Virginia Tech) gave the Tide a 21-0 lead.
Chattanooga's best offensive effort of the first half ended with the Mocs trying a 48-yard field goal on a fourth-and-10 play. Freshman defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson blocked the kick. HaHa Clinton-Dix attempted to scoop the ball, but couldn't hang on. However, the Tide took over at the Chattanooga 42.
McCarron completed a nice pass to Amari Cooper on a fourth-and-three to keep the drive alive, and then hit Norwood on a post pattern for the 28 yard touchdown and 28-0 halftime lead.
McCarron's final series had its moments. He threw a quick out to Christion Jones, and Jones had to reverse field. That gave McCarron a blocking opportunity, which he executed. On the next play, he completed a pass to his brother, walk-on tight end Corey, probably the only time the two will connect. Three plays later, it was McCarron to Norwood on a 38-yard touchdown and a 35-0 lead. The seven-play, 62-yard drive had taken just 3:41 to start the second half.
Bama nearly had a turnover on a Chattanooga punt when the ball hit Kenny Bell in the back, but the Tide recovered at the Alabama 37. With Blake Sims taking over at quarterback, Bama went 63 yards in six plays for the touchdown.
(The coaches obviously agreed to let the clock run on ordinary clock-stopping situations in the second half, so the 5:33 time of possession statistic is flawed.)
Henry had a nice furn for 18 yards on a key play in the drive. From the Chattanooga 31, Chris Black was in the backfield with Sims and Henry and took a handoff around right end, diving into the end zone to make it 42-0 with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Alabama did not punt in the game, but had its second possession without finishing with a score as the fourth quarter started. Bama had the ball at its eight and drove inside the Chattanooga 25 before turning the ball over on downs.
Chattanooga's second turnover of the game was costly as the Mocs had a completed shovel pass knocked loose by Jonathan Allen and recovered by Eddie Jackson. Jackson ran it 35 yards to the Chattanooga six. From there, Dee Hart went up the middle for the touchdown with just over five minutes to play. Adam Griffith kicked the 49th and final point for Bama.
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