It Was A Black Saturday For Dogs

Georgia had a blackout as the third-ranked Bulldogs hosted eighth-ranked Alabama in Sanford Stadium in Athens Saturday night. Georgia probably had no idea what a black night it would be for the home team. Alabama started about as well as a team could play and finished good enough for a 41-30 win.

The victory for Alabama propelled the Crimson Tide to a 5-0 record and most believe that the road win over the nation's pre-season number one Georgia, previously undefeated, will lift Bama into the nation's top five. Georgia is now 4-1 overall and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play.

After consecutive SEC road games, wins over Arkansas and Georgia, Alabama returns to Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. The Crimson Tide will host Kentucky at 2:30 p.m. CDT in a game that will be telecast by CBS. Kentucky is also undefeated.

Alabama opened up a 31-0 halftime lead. Although Bama faltered in the second half, there probably are no examples of the Crimson Tide losing a game it led by 31 points at halftime. It was a good "coaching" game for Alabama: another win and yet mistakes aplenty to use in future game preparation.

Georgia's second half desperation comeback try always seemed destined to come up short, but the Bulldogs did turn one-sided statistics into fairly close numbers at the end. Alabama had 21 first downs to Georgia's 18. Alabama had 45 rushes for 129 yards against the nation's number one rushing defense team. Bama held Georgia to 16 runs for 50 yards.

John Parker Wilson completed 13 of 16 passes with no interceptions for 205 yards. Georgia, playing from behind, had 43 pass attempts with 24 completions, one intercepted, and 274 yards. Total offense had Bama with 61 plays for 334 yards, Georgia with 59 plays for 324 yards.

Alabama had the advantage in time of possession, 35:46 to 24:14. Penalties were important with Alabama--the SEC's least penalized team--flagged only twice for only nine yards, Georgia penalized 10 times for 81 yards.

In the battle of outstanding freshman wide receivers, Julio Jones led Alabama in receiving with five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown and A.J. Green led Georgia with six receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Alabama had success running the football with Glen Coffee leading the Tide with 23 carries for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Knowshon Moreno had fewer opportunities owing to Alabama taking an early lead and the All-America candidate was held to nine carries for 34 yards.

Alabama started the game just the way the Crimson Tide would have wanted. After winning the toss and electing to receive, the Tide went on an 11-play, 80-yard march that ended with a touchdown and took six and a half minutes--time the Georgia offense was on the sidelines.

Freshman tailback gave Bama the lead with a six-yard run on second-anhd-five. Two penalties against Georgia helped the Crimson Tide cause. The Bulldogs were guilty of a pass interference call that gave Bama a first down at the Georgia 26. And on a third and long, when it appeared the Dogs had a fumble recovery, Alabama kept the ball because of a roughing the passer call. Tailback Glen Coffee did most of the running on the drive, but the big plays were John Parker Wilson completions to B.J. Scott for seven yards and to Julio Jones for 13 and 12. Leigh Tiffin kicked the extra point.

Alabama would get another long drive helped by a couple of Georgia penalties, but had to settle for a 23-yard Tiffin field goal and a 10-0 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the first uarter. Bama had gotten Georgia's first offensive drive stopped just on the Tide side of midfield. Javier Arenas had a 17-yard punt return to the 35. Bama got one first down on a Wilson scramble, another on a holding call against Georgia and then Wilson completed a 14-yard pass to Nikita Stover. Officials tacked on an additional 14 yards for roughing the passer. Alabama had a second and two at the Georgia five, but two runs lost a yard and Bama had to settle for Tiffin's field goal.

Given another opportunity early in the second quarter, Bama held Georgia at its 29 and the Bulldogs got only a 19-yard punt to the 48. It took Bama only five plays to get the touchdown. The big gain was Wilson hitting Jones for 31 yards to the Georgia five. Two Coffee runs and a Tiffin PAT made it 17-0 with 11:58 remaining in the second quarter.

The Alabama defense set up Bama's next score. Georgia was facing third and to at the Bulldogs'30. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford hit A.J. Green, but the ball was stripped away by Tide safety Justin Woodall and picked out of the air by Bama freshman linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who returned it to the Georgia 33. Wilson's sixth straight completion to start the game went to Mike McCoy for 12 yards. His seventh straight completionwas to McCoy for 10 yards to the seven. After a fade pass was incomplete, Roy Upchurch gained three years, then followed it up on a draw play with a four-yard touchdown run. Tiffin's kick made it 24-0 with 6:47 to play in the first half.

Georgia's next drive ended with an embarassing intentional grounding call and the Bulldogs were forced to punt from their 30. Alabama started at its 37 with 4:35 before intermission. More than enough time. The Tide took six plays to go 63 yards and used only 3:10 of the allotted time. Coffee started the drive with a 15-yard run. A couple of plays later Wilson hit tight end Nick Walker for 12 yards to the Georgia 26. Upchurch got four and then Wilson made a perfect throw and Julio Jones made an all-star catch in the end zone. Tiffin's kick made it 31-0 with 1:25 to play.

Stafford's pass to Green that was stripped away by Woodall and taken by Hightower was ruled by Georgia officials to be a completion and fumble. That kept alive Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford's streak of passes without an interception. That streak came to an end at 121 when Woodall picked off Stafford's desperation pass just before halftime, preserving Bama's 31-0 lead at intermission.

The first half statistics reflected the one-sided game. Alabama had 17 first downs to Georgia's four. Bama had 28 rushes for 92 yards, Georgia 7-17. Wilson had completed 10 of 11 passes for 139 yards, Stafford 8-13 (with one interception) for 69 yards. Bama had 37 plays for 231 yards, Georgia 20 plays for 86 yards. Georgia had been penalized six times for 56 yards, Bama once for five. Alabama had the ball for 20:32, Georgia for 9:28. Alabama had not punted.

It was reasonable to expect Georgia, wearing black jerseys to note the importance of the game, to mount a comeback in front of their black-shirted crowd, and the Bulldogs did. Georgia took the second half kickoff, got a couple of nice completions from Stafford to Kris Durham, and moved to the Alabama 26. Blair Walsh kicked a 43-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard, but on the wrong side of 31-3.

Alabama had to make its first punt a few minutes later when a Wilson scramble came up short of the first down at the Alabama 33. Three plays later Georgia was punting it back to Bama, and not well. Alabama started at its 47 after the 30-yard punt.

Alabama again could do nothing and P.J. Fitzgerald's second punt was Georgia's best play of the night. Zach Renner partially blocked the punt and Georgia had it at the Bulldogs 42.

That led to a Georgia touchdown. The Bulldogs went the 58 yards in 10 plays. Georgia faced fourth and four at the Alabama 38 and went for it, gaining 10 yards on a pass. Stafford then hit A.J. Green on a 26-yard gain to the Alabama two. After an incomplete pass, the Bulldogs remembered they had Knowshon Moreno and gave it to him for a two-yard run at left end. Wash's PAT made it 31-10 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.

Alabama would have only eight yards of total offense and zero first downs in the third quarter. And that lack of punting in the first half may have been costly. Alabama obviously needs work on that part of the game. On Fitzgerald's third punt of the game, Prince Miller took it at the eight, made a couple of tacklers miss and went 92 yards for the touchdown to pull Georgia to within 31-17. The punt came on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Alabama finally got its offense untracked. On a second and six, Wilson hit Jones for 15 yards and a first down. After Coffee gained five yards, Wilson found Upchurch on an inside screen and picked up 22 yards to the Georgia 20. Three runs got only five yards and Tiffin was called on for a 32-yard field goal, which was good, giving Bama over a two-touchdown margin at 34-17 with 9:45 to play. The eight-play, 51-yard drive took 4:48.

It looked like Georgia might get another lightning strike on the kickoff, but the Bulldogs started at their 31. As it was, the Bulldogs began a passing barrage that moved into Alabama territory, a first down at Bama's 35. Two passes were incomplete and then Stafford was sacked by Brandon Fanney for a nine-yard loss. On fourth and 19 from the Alabama 44, Stafford completed a pass to Green at about the first down marker, but the Bulldogs were guilty of holding. That made it fourth and 29 from the Georgia 46 and the pass was incomplete. Bama took over with 7:15 to play.

The Tide put the game away with a five-play, 47-yard drive that ended with Coiffee going in from 12 yards out. Tiffin's kick with 4:13 to play made it 41-17.

But the Bulldogs weren't finished. A good return on the kickoff gave Georgia a short field, and Stafford made quick work with a five-play, 40-yard drive that ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Michael Moore. A two-point conversion try failed, leaving Bama with a three-score lead at 41-23.

Alabama's kicking game woes continued with the Bulldogs getting the ball on an onsides kick that Nick Walker was unable to hold on to. Stafford made a couple of big runs, then hit Green on a 21-yard scoring pass. The Bulldogs kicked the extra point to make it 41-30.

Alabama was able to cover the onsides kick and run out the clock.

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