Lightning Ends Tide’s 41-0 Win Over Owls

Charlie Boswell, the former Alabama football player who became much more famous as the world’s greatest blind golfer after he lost his sight in World War II, had a famous retort to comedian Bob Hope, an avid golfer. Hope wanted to play a match against Boswell. Fine said Boswell: “My course at midnight.”

Owls may also do better in the dark. An 11 a.m. kickoff time is really no good for anyone except television. Alabama playing Florida Atlantic being the opponent was not very good for anyone either, unless you count back-up Bama football players who were able to get some playing time.

But no one got all the playing time possible. That’s because the weather turned not very good. With 7:53 remaining in the game, play was halted because of lightning being in the area. After a brief wait while lightning strikes continued to be monitored within 10 miles of Bryant-Denny Stadium, it was announced that both teams had agreed to end the game.

Good decision.

With Saturday’s 41-0 Crimson Tide win over the Owls, second-ranked Bama improved to 2-0, while Florida Atlantic fell to 0-2.

Alabama continues in non-conference play and at Bryant-Denny Stadium next week when the Crimson Tide hosts Southern Mississippi at 5 p.m. CDT Saturday.

Blake Sims threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and Kenyan Drake ran for one touchdown and caught a short pass that he turned into another 39-yard touchdown. Amari Cooper tied an Alabama recod with 13 pass receptions. Placekicker Adam Griffith continued perfect on the year making both field goal tries and five extra points.

Sims completed 11-13 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns and his back-up, Jacob Coker, played more than half the game and completed 15-24 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown. Neither quarterback suffered an interception.

Kenyan Drake led a very balanced rushing attack in which almost no one had enough carries to matter. Drake had 7 runs for 45 yards with a touchdown, T.J. Yeldon 7-43, Tyren Jones 4-35, Derrick Henry 5-23, Coker 4-28, Cooper 1-20, Sims 3-16 with a touchdown, and Altee Tenpenny 2-4.

Cooper had a record-tying 13 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown, Ardarius Stewart 3-63, Chris Black 3-45, Christion Jones 2-52, Drake 1-39 (touchdown), Yeldon 1-18, Ty Flournoy-Smith 1-4, Robert Foster 1-3, and Fowler 1-3 for a touchdown.

Cyrus Jones, subbing for Christion Jones as punt return man in the second half, had a 70-yard return of a 60-yard punt.

Defensively, Ala bama was led by Reggie Ragland, who was in on five tackles and had a sack for a six-yard loss. Eddie Jackson, Landon Collins, A'Shwan Robinson, and Trey DePriest were in on three tackles each. Ryan Anderson and Rashaan Evans had sacks of 15 and 10 yards and Robinson and Jonathan Allen had tackles for loss. Jackson forced a fumble that was recovered by Cyrus Jones.

Jay Warren led the Owls in rushing with 9 carries for 56 yards. Quarterback Greg Hankerson completed 12-19 passes for 88 yards. Lucky Whitehead had six receptions for 42 yards.

Alabama had 27 first downs to 9 for FAU. The Tide had 33 rushes for 204 yards, the Owls 24 runs for 57 yards. Bama completed 26-37 passes for 416 yards and Florida Atlantic 12-19 for 88 yards. In total offense, Alabama had 70 plays for 620 yards, FAU 43 plays for 145 yards. Bama was penalized 6 times for 60 yards, the Owls 3-23. FAU punted seven times for a 42.7 yard average. Alabama did not punt in the game. Both teams lost one fumble. Bama was successful on 6-12 third down possessions, the Owls 2-10.

Also of interest was Alabama spending much of the day running a no-huddle offense. Bama had a slight advantage in time of possession, 28:30 to 23:37.

Even in a game of this ease, coaches will be able to find things on which to improve. Most disheartening may have been the failure of Sims and Yeldon to connect on a handoff on a third-and-goal play at the Florida Atlantic 1-yard line. The Owls recovered the fumble and avoided the likely touchdown.

To the surprise of no one, the game was quickly out of reach for the Owls. Alabama scored touchdowns on its first three drives and scored on every first half possession except the final one, when time ran out with Bama inside the FAU 10-yard line.

Bama started the game with a 20-yard end-around by Amari Cooper and finished that 7-play, 14-yard drive with a Blake Sims seven-yard scramble for a touchdown. Adam Griffith kicked Bama extra points.

The second Tide TD was much quicker. Starting at its 25 after a poor Florida Atlantic punt, Sims hit three consecutive passes to account for the 1:20 drive. Kenyan Drake got a swing pass for 15 yards, and then after an eight-yard pass to Cooper, the Sims-Cooper combo on a quick screen went for 52 yards and a touchdown. Christion Jones made a nice block to spring Cooper and make it 14-0.

After another FAU punt, Bama started at its 22. Short passes to Cooper and short runs by Derrick Henry and a nifty scramble by Sims to the Owls 39 set up a quick screen to Drake and demonstrated that “mis-match” quality Bama Coach Nick Saban had talked about in the preseason. Drake exploded past the Florida Atlantic defense to the end zone and a 21-0 lead.

Eddie Jackson, making his first appearance of the year as the starter at left cornerback for the Tide, gave up a short pass completion, but stripped the ball carrier and Bama linebacker Reggie Ragland recovred at the FAU 42.

That led to Jake Coker’s appearance and the Tide was not quite as polished as it had been under Sims. Coker did show some scrambling ability and completed his first pass as an Alabama quarterback, a six-yarder to Sims. But a third down pass was incomplete and Bama settled for a 22-yard field goal and a 24-0 lead two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter.

Perhaps surprisingly, Alabama would score only one more time in the first half as Coker quarterbacked the entire second quarter.

Starting at its own 13, Bama got nice back-to-back runs of 14 and eight yards by T.J. Yeldon. Coker completed passes of 14 to ArDarius Steward, 18 to Yeldon on a third-and-10 screen pass, and 15 to Chris Black to get the ball to the 18. On a scramble at right end, Coker lowered his head to finish off a 15-yard run to the three. On first down he hit the inside screen to Jalston Fowler for the touchdown and a 31-0 lead.

Alabama’s first drive of the second half was going just fine until the Tide got to the FAU one. Sims had started it with a 41-yard pass to Christion Jones and and made a couple of other nice passes to Cooper and Black to set up third-and-goal at the one. Sims and Yeldon seemed to have a miscommunication problem, with Yeldon running a play action pass play and Sims trying to hand Yeldon the ball. The result was a fumble, which the Owls recovered.

Coker drove Bama to its final touchdown. The Tide had to overcome a personal foul penalty to start the march. A short pass and great move by Cooper got 20 yards and his next reception – his school record-tying 13th – got the first down. Moments later Coker hit Christion Jones for a 40-yard gain to the 11. Drake got the touchdown in two runs, going in from three yards out to make it 38-0.

Alabama had to settle for a field goal on a possession that started at the end of the third quarter and went into the final period before getting an 28-yard field goal from Griffith. Tyren Jones had a 20-yard run to get the drive going, but Bama’s offense began sputtering in the red zone and on a fourth-and-four in a downpour from the 11, Griffith kickd the final points of the contest.

The next Alabama fourth-and-four would mark the end of the game. Cyrus Jones had a 70-yard return of a 60-yard Florida Atlantic punt to set the Tide up at the Owls 10-yard line. Three plays got only six yards. It seemed as if the Tide planned to go for it, but instead the officials stopped the game because of lightning being detected in the area. Shortly after it was announced that the coaches had mutually agreed to call the game with 7:53 to play.

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