Memo to Auburn Football Staff: Field goals may be good enough to beat teams like LSU, but it takes more than that against Alabama. Although the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide seemed to be a bit out of sync going to halftime, Bama put up two third quarter touchdowns and cruised to a 30-12 victory over the Tigers in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.
Alabama finished regular season play with a 12-0 record (8-0 in Southeastern Conference play, while Auburn fell to 8-4 and 5-3. One of the Tigers’ biggest wins en route to a surprisingly strong season was an 18-13 win over LSU in which Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals for Auburn. Carlson had a good day against Alabama, too, with 4-5 field goals, but it wasn’t nearly enough against a Tide team that dominated both offensively and defensively.
Jalen Hurts passed for two touchdowns and ran for another and Adam Griffith had three field goals for the Tide in defeating the Tigers for the third consecutive year and keeping Bama on track as the top seed in the College Football Playoff rankings going into conference championship games.
Alabama plays next Saturday in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome against Florida.
Alabama scored a field goal just before halftime to go up by 13-9 owing primarily to Bama miscues that led to Auburn field goals. The Tide came out in the second half and scored touchdowns on its first two possessions to put the game away.
Hurts had a touchdown pass of 17 yards to Damien Harris in the first quarter, and in the third quarter had a TD pass of 38 yards to ArDarius Stewart and ran one in from 4 yards out.
Even though it was a decisive victory on the scoreboard, it was more emphatic in the statistics.
Alabama had 26 first downs, Auburn 7. Bama rushed 44 times for 203 yards, the Tigers 26 times for 66 yards. The Tide completed 28 of 37 passes for 286 yards, Auburn 7-19 passes for 116 yards. Total offense was Alabama 81 plays, 501 yards, Auburn 45 plays 182 yards.
Bo Scarbrough led the Tide in rushing with 17 carries for 90 yards, Harris carried 9 times for 47, Jalen Hurts 12-37, and Josh Jacobs 5-32. Bama held the SEC’s leading rusher, Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway, to 17 yards on 12 carries.
Hurts completed 27 of 36 passes for 286 yards, but suffered two interceptions. Stewart had one pass that he completed for 12 yards.
Stewart set a career high with 10 receptions, good for 127 yards. O.J. Howard had 5-45, Calvin Ridley 5-44, and Harris 3-22.
Alabama’s defense was led by the inside linebackers, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Reuben Foster. Both were in on 8 tackles (2 primary, 6 assists) and both were in on a tackle for loss. Hamilton had Bama’s lone interception which came at the Alabama five with nine minutes to play.
Alabama finished the game running those nine minutes off the clock, ending with a victory formation kneeldown.
It was a worrisome first half for Alabama, which dominated statistically, but had physical and mental mistakes to have only a 13-9 lead at intermission.
In the first two quarters Alabama had 14 first downs, Auburn 1. The Tide had 18 rushes for 69 yards, Auburn 10-27. Bama had completed 19 of 26 passes for 182 yards, Auburn 4-10 for 4 yards. Total offense was Alabama 44 plays for 263 yards, Auburn 20 plays for 31 yards.
Auburn drew first blood after a rare poor punt by JK Scott that was returned by Stephen Roberts for 58 yards to the Alabama 21. After the Tigers couldn’t move, placekicker Daniel Carlson booted his first field goal, a 42-yarder for a 3-0 AU lead.
Alabama matched it with a long drive that stalled at the Auburn 11 with Adam Griffith hitting from 29 yards to make it 3-3.
The Tide’s lone first half touchdown came on a 39-yard pass from Hurts to Stewart to the Auburn 17, followed by a swing pass to Harris (who got a great block from Stewart) for the touchdown. Griffith’s kick made it 10-3.
Auburn would pull to within one on two field goals, both following interceptions by the Tigers’ Daniel Thomas, both setting Auburn up at Alabama’s 41.
The first resulted in a 52-yard Carlson field goal that made it 10-6.
The second was followed by Auburn’s only first down of the half, a 13-yard run by Kerryon Johnson to the Tide 28. Four plays later Carlson kicked a 39-yarder to make it 10-9.
Alabama fot the ball for a final drive with 2:56 to play. Hurts had a clutch 25-yard pass to Calvin Ridley on a third-and-8 to the Auburn 39, but with time running out in the half and down to a fourth-and4 at the Tigers 7, Bama opted for a 25-yard Griffith field goal and a 13-9 halftime lead.
Alabama opened the second half with the Bama defense getting a three-and-out and the Tide starting at its 43. It took just 8 plays, the big one a 20-yard gain by Scarbrough, to get to the end zone. Hurts finished the march with a 4-yard run at right end and a 20-9 lead.
The Tigers came back with a – you guessed it – field goal attempt, but it was Carlson’s lone miss.
From its 36, the Tide took just five plays to get the touchdown. On a fourth-and-4 at the Auburn 38, Hurts hit Stewart on the right sideline with a quick screen, and Stewart took it all the way, getting a block from Ridley on one defender at the goalline and running through the tackle of the second.
After just two series in the second half, the Tide had p;ushed its lead to 27-9.
The Tigers got about a third of their total offense on a 55-yard pass from John Franklin III to Eli Stove to set up a final score, a 27-yard Carlson field goal.
96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Bama would get those three points back with Griffith closing out the scoring with 12:46 to play with a 34-yard FG.
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