Grant Leads Tide Over Vandy
As in the season-opener last week, Alabama tailback Terry Grant scored a touchdown on Bama's first offensive play of the game. And as in week one, it followed a nice kick return by Javier Arenas. But there were differences in the two starts. In the 52-6 win over Western Carolina, Arenas returned a kickoff to the Catamolunts 47 and Grant ran it in on a sweep. Against Vanderbilt Saturday, Arenas returned a punt 69 yards to the Commodores one-yard line, and Grant blasted slipped through the middle for the score. Leigh Tiffin's extra point made it 7-0 with only two and a half minutes gone in the game.
Alabama's opening drive may have set a record for brevity. One play, one yard, four seconds.
That first Vanderbilt punt was a rugby style kick, low and short. Bama had two return men in the game, Arenas the up man and Jonathan Lowe the deep return man.
Alabama is now 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in SEC play. Vandy's record is now even at 1-1 and the Commodores are 0-1 in league competition.
Bama seemed on its way to a comfortable outing when the Crimson Tide held Vandy on three-and-out and then marched to the Vanderbilt eight. John Parker Wilson completed an 30-yard pass to D.J. Hall and Grant had a 27-yard run on something of a busted play (with Wilson making a fine block). But three plays didn't get a touchdown and Tiffin kicked a 20-yard field goal. With less than half the first quarter gone, the Tide had a 10-0 lead.
Vanderbilt was harly in a rollover mode. In fact, the Commodores were their own worst enemy or Vandy might have been on the leading side at halftime. Key penalties on Vanderbilt's offensive, defensive and special teams figured prominently in Alabama having a 16-3 halftime lead.
On Vandy's first possession a long Chris Nickson pass to Earl Bennett gained 60 yards to the Alabama 11, and the Tide was guilty of a facemask penalty on the tackle. But Bennett had pushed off--offensive pass interference--and the off-setting penalties wiped out the play.
Later the Commdores had what seemed to be a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, but a facemask penalty on Vandy put the home team back on their 15-yard line. On first down Bama's Rashad Johnson had the first interception of the year for the Tide.
Late in the second quarter, Alabama missed a 49-yard field goal try and gave the ball to Vanderbilt at its 31 with just 2:23 to play. The Commodores were unable to move and had a shanked punt, giving Alabama decent field position at its 49 with 1:39 to play. A pss from Wilson to Grant gained 17 to the Vandy 17 and Bama had thoughts of perhaps getting a chance at a score. The Vanderbilt defense helped that effort with two major infractions on the same play. With 25 seconds to play the Commodores were guilty of having 12 men on the field and a personal foul, setting Bama up at the Vanby 11. After a run to the middle of the field, Tiffin kicked a 29-yard field goal for the halftime lead of 16-3.
Prior to that, Vanderbilt and Bama swapped field goals. The Commodores pulled to within 10-3 late in the first quarter when Bryant Hahnfeldtconnected on a 33-yard field goal. That score capped a very quick Vanderbilt drive that was aided by very poor Alabama tackling. The Commodores got a 25-yard run from Cassen Jackson-Garrison and a 17-yard pass from Chris Nickson to Justin Green to set up the field goal.
Bama made it 13-3 with a 40-yard field goal from Tiffin. A Tide drive stalled inside Vandy's 20 forcing the kick. Later in the quarter Tiffin was just wide left from 49 yards.
It was the Terry Grant show as Alabama extended its lead to 24-3 early in the fourth quarter. Grant had eight carries for 80 yards in a 10-play in an 86-yard drive. Grant took it in for the touchdown from two yards out. With a 19-point lead, Bama elected to go for the two-point conversion and Wilson connected with tight end Nick Walker.
Vanderbilt cut the lead to 24-10 with 7:22. The Commodores had a nice 11-play, 60-yard drive, some of the time with no huddle, and scored when back-up quarterback Mackenzi Adams completed his first career touchdown pass. He hit George Smith on a 15-yard play. The drive took just over four minutes and mioved the gameclock inside the seven and a half minute mark -- halfway through the fourth quarter. And it had begun to rain hard.
Alabama wasn't able to run out the clock, but gave the ball back to Vandy with only three minutes to play and the Commodores were unable to get into Bama territory.
Alabama continues in SEC play next Saturday and returns to Tuscaloosa. Bama will host Arkansas at 5:45 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPN will telecast the game. Arkansas had an open date this week.
Alabama dominated Vanderbilt statistically in Saturday's 24-10 Crimson Tide victory in Nashville.
Alabama had 22 first downs (12 rushing, 8 passing, 2 penalty) to 13 for the Commodores (5 rushing, 8 passing).
Alabama had 48 rushing attempts for 221 net yards, an averaged of 4.6 yards per play. Vandy had 26 rushes for 57 net yards, a 2.2 average.
Alabama completed 14 of 28 passes with one intercepted for 150 yards. Vandy completed 18 of 41 passes with one intercepted for 175 yards.
In total offense, Alabama had 76 ploays for 371 yards, Vanderbilt 67 plays for 232 yards. Bama averaged 4.9 yards per play, the Commodores 3.5. Alabama had the ball for 33:47, Vanderbilt for 26:13.
Alabama was penalized six times for 40 yards and Vanderbilt five for 50, but no one would deny that Vandy's penalties were far more costly.
TIDE INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:
Alabama was led in rushing by Terry Grant with 24 carries for 173 yards and two touchdowns. He had a long run of 35 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per carry. Glen Coffee had 11 carries for 48 yards (4.4 per carry) with a long of 12 yards.
John Parker Wilson was 14-28 and suffered his first interception of the year. He had a long pass of 30 yards.
D.J. Hall had rthree catches for 67 yards, Terry Grant three for 26, Mike McCoy three for 15.
P.J. Fitzgerald averaged 41.6 yards per p;unt with five boots for 208 yards including a career-best 58-yarder.
Javier Arenas had three punt returns for 79 yards (69 long) and three kickoff returns for 59 yards (long 23).
Leigh Tiffin was three of five on field goal attempts and averaged 53.8 yards on his five kickoffs.
BAMA DEFENSIVE LEADERS Inside llinebackers Darren Mustin and Rolando McClain each had four individual tackles and two assists to lead Bama with six tackles. McClain had one sack for a nine-yard loss. Bobby Greenwood also had a nine-yard sack.
Kareem Jackson, Lionel Mitchell and Ezekial Knight all had four primary tackles and one assist. Marcus Carter, Wallace Gilberry and Simeon Castille hd four solo tackles each.
Gilberry caused a fumble and had four quarterback hurries.
Rashad Johnson had an interception and he, Castille, Knight and McClain had pass break-ups.
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