It Seemed Like Old Alabama Times
Alabama, ranked 11th in the nation, was never in trouble as the Tide ran its record to 3-0 with a 41-7 win over Western Kentucky in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night. It was also a rebound from last week's lethargic Bama win over Tulane. WKU fell to 1-2.
Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play next week. The Crimson Tide goes to Fayettevilole to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks under new coach Bobby Petrino. Kickoff will be at 11:30 a.m. with regional television coverage on the SEC's Raycom network.
Arkansas did not play Saturday. The Razorbacks scheduled game at Texas was postponed until September 27 because of Hurricane Ike. The Hogs are 2-0 with thin wins over Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe.
Alabama's domination was evident in final statistics. The Crimson Tide had 30 first downs to nine for WKU. Bama had extraordinary balance offensively, 49 rushes for 281 yards and 21-33 passing for 276 yards. That worked out to 82 plays for 557 yards. The Crimson Tide defense held the Hilltoppers to 22 runs for 42 yards and 14-26 passing for 116 yards, making total offense for the visitors 48 plays for 158 yards. Alabama had the football for 37:21 to 22:39 for WKU.
Alabama did not punt in the game.
Glen Coffee led Alabama in rushing with 11 carries for 98 yards. John Parker Wilson completed 17 of 27 passes for 215 yards. He suffered his first interception of the year but threw for two touchdowns. Freshman Julio Jones had five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Rashad Johnson was Bama's tackle leader with seven primary stops. Javier Arenas was in on seven stops, four primary, three assists, and had a sack.
Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns in the game, while Terry Grant rushed for one and John Parker Wilson connected with Nick Walker and Julio Jones on touchdown passes. Leigh Tiffin made two of three field goals and five extra point kicks.
Ingram got Alabama's first touchdown on a seven-yard run. Ingram hit in the middle, then bounced out to the left to get it into the end zone. Leigh Tiffin kicked it to 7-0. The score at the end of Alabama's first possession covered 63 yards in 11 plays and took 4:21. John Parker Wilson had two key third down pass completions in the drive, a nine-yard pass to Julio Jones and an 18-yarder to Nikita Stover to the seven to set up the TD run.
Western Kentucky's ensuing kickoff return was stopped on a nice tackle by Courtney Upshaw at the 21. On first down, nose tackle Terrence Cody caused and recovered a fumble for Alabama at the 17. Two runs by Glen Coffeemade it first and goal at the seven, but a run for no gain and two pass incompletions forced Bama to settle for a 22-yard Tiffin field goal and a 10-0 lead with 6:30 remaining in the first half.
The Wilson-to-Jones combination worked well on Bama's next possession. After a long Javier Arenas punt return was set back 24 yards by a block-in-the-back penalty, Bama started at its 44 yard line. On first down, Wilson used play action and connected with Jones for a 35-yard gain to the WKU 21. Ingram's seven-yard run gave Alabama a first-and-goal at the six and Ingram got his second touchdown from there over left guard. With Tiffin's kick, the Tide had a 17-0 lead with 49 second remaining in the first quarter.
Terry Grant got some tailback playing time in the second quarter and made it pay off. After Coffee made a 15-yard run to the 25, Grant came in and did the heavy work to the eight. From there Grant followed a punishing block by Andre Smith to the end zone. Tiffin's kick with 9:51 remaining concluded the eight-play, 78-yard drive and made it 24-0. Wilson had two nice first down passes to Earl Alexander in the drive, a 27-yard completion to start the march and an eight-yard pass for a first down at the WKU 40.
The Alabama defense gave up its first touchdown of the season to Western Kentucky and it followed the first interception thrown by Wilson. Travis Watters intercepted Wilson at the WKU 46 and returned it 18 yards to the Alabama 36. On a fourth and four situation from the Alabama 30, Hilltoppers quarterback David Wolke, a transfer from Notre Dame, connected with tight end Tristan Jones for the score. Tanner Siewert kicked WKU's seventh point.
Glen Coffee got Bama off to a nice start on Bama's next possession with a 51-yard run to the WKU 18. Ingram got nine yards to the 10 and a couple more for a first-and-goal at the seven. Ingram came up a yard short for his third touchdown. Coffee then was stopped for a yard loss. On third and goal from the two, Wilson passed to tight end Nick Walker for the touchdown. It came with 1:57 remaining in the first half and with Tiffin's kick it was 31-7.
Alabama had one last shot at first half points, but Tiffin's 47-yard field goal attempt was wide left. The most notable feature of the final drive of the half was Wilson setting a new record for total offense when he completed a shovel pass out of a broken play to Mike McCoy for a 12-yard gain.
Bama had a nice drive to start the second half. A clutch third-down Wilson pass to McCoy gained 22 to the Western Kentucky 32 and then Terry Grant had an 18-yard run to the WKU 16. But the drive stalled inside the Hillotoppers' 10 and Tiffin kicked a 25-yard field goal to make it 34-7.
Bama came back with a 56-yard, seven-play drive for a touchdown with just under five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Wilson hit Julio Jones for a 12-yard touchdown pass and Tiffin kicked it to 41-7.
WKU made a nice drive deep into Alabama territory before safety Justin Woodall picked off a pass at the Alabama 13 late in the third quarter. That brought on a second team Alabama offense, quarterbacked by Greg McElroy.
That back-up grouped seemed headed for a long touchdown drive, but Roy Upchurch fumbled inside the WKU 10-yard line.
Alabama was inside the Western Kentucky five-yard line and allowed the clock to run out.
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