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No. 1 Crimson Tide shakes off slow start to roll past Wildcats 34-6 (via Crimson Magazine)

01 Oct 2016 Stan J. Griffin

By Stan J. Griffin: October 1, 2016

After a week of having to cope with a great deal of outside noise, the No. 1 Alabama football team was no doubt hoping the magic and charm of Homecoming would be just the elixir it would need to get back on positive footing as it faced off against Mark Stoops' Kentucky Wildcats Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
And thanks to the offensive trio of Jalen Hurts, Calvin Ridley and Joshua Jacobs, all freshmen and sophomores by the way, and another smothering effort by the UA defense, Alabama shook off a slow and sloppy start to roll 34-6 in front of a capacity crowd 101,821.
Alabama improved to 5-0 overall on the season, as well as 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play, while the visiting Wildcats fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.
Hurts led the Tide offense by completing 20 of 33 passes for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also carrying the ball nine times for 25 yards. Ridley, his main weapon on the evening, hauled in a career-best 11 throws for 174 yards and a pair of scoring receptions.
Jacobs, meanwhile, gained his first 100-yard game on the collegiate ranks as he carried the ball 16 times for 100 yards and a TD. He also caught three passes for 44 yards, including a long reception of 23 yards.
“I thought we executed a little better in the second half, I thought we were a little sloppy in the first half,” said Tide coach Nick Saban after the game. “I thought the defense played well and I thought it was a pretty good win for us. I thought we left some points out there by not finishing some drives. There are certainly a lot of lessons to be learned from this game. We have to be more consistent in the passing game. Things like that we just have to continue to work on.”


On its first possession of the game, the Tide quickly began to march down the field against the Wildcats, mainly behind the passing of Hurts. But the drive stalled on downs at the UK 36-yard-line.
Kentucky, however, answered by gaining the initial points of the contest on its first offensive series, capping an eight play drive with a 45-yard field goal by Austin MacGinnis at the 8:52 mark of the first period to go up 3-0.
Disaster struck for a sluggish Crimson Tide team on its second possession as Hurts fumbled, with Kentucky falling on the loose pigskin at the Alabama 43.
Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, the Wildcats returned the favor as Christian Miller combined with Ryan Anderson on a sack of UK quarterback Stephen Johnson, causing a fumble that was recovered by Anderson. This allowed UA to set up shop at its own 39.
And although the UA offense was still appearing a bit out of sync, the Tide capitalized on the UK miscue, finishing off a 61-yard march when Adam Griffith converted a 44-yard field goal at the 1:15 mark to deadlock the score at 3-3.
Alabama finally took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter when Jacobs, the true freshman tailback, scored on a 1-yard run at the 9:50 mark to complete a 7-play, 61-yard march covering 2:30. The drive was highlighted by a 48-yard run by Jacobs. This gave the Tide a 10-3 lead.
With just under seven minutes left in the half, the Tide scored its seventh non-offensive touchdown of the season as linebacker Rashaan Evans sacked Johnson, forcing a UK fumble.
Ronnie Harrison returned the loose football 55 yards for the score. This put the Tide up 17-3. This was also the score at the intermission as Griffith missed a 35-yard field goal with 48 seconds left in the period.
Early in the third quarter, the Tide drove 78 yards for a touchdown in eight plays, with Hurts hitting Ridley on a 10-yard scoring pass at the 10:58 mark. The score was set up by a 46-yard throw from Hurts to that same sophomore target. Alabama now led 24-3.
At the 4:31 mark the tandem of Hurts and Ridley clicked once  again for another TD, this time from 19 yards, and Alabama extended its advantage to 31-3. This capped a 9-play, 76-yard march.
Big plays on the drive included a 23-yard pass from Hurts to Jacobs, an 11-yard aerial to Gehrig Dieter and a 14-yard run by Bo Scarbrough.
Early in the final period, Alabama added again to its lead as Griffith nailed a 24-yard field goal to make the score 34-3. This ended a 5-play, 43-yard drive.
The score was set up by a 43-yard pass from Hurts to a streaking Ridley.
Kentucky gained its final points of the evening on a 30-yard field goal by MacGinnis to make the score 34-6. This completed a 63-yard drive.
With backup quarterback Cooper Bateman, now the Tide’s No. 2 signal caller following the departure of Blake Barnett, in the game, Alabama was able to effectively salt away the final five minutes or so of the contest.
Scarbrough added five carries for 21 yards and B.J. Emmons tallied 16 yards on three carries.
Robert Foster, Trevon Diggs and O.J. Howard caught two passes apiece for the Tide.
Overall the Crimson Tide had 75 plays for 488 yards while Kentucky was held to 161 total yards on 58 plays, an average of less than three yards per play. Alabama averaged 6.5 yards per play, and had 25 first downs to just 12 for Stoops' team.
JK Scott only punted once on Saturday, but it was a 58-yarder.
Defensively, Jonathan Allen and Shaun Dion Hamilton led the Crimson Tide with eight tackles each, while Harrison had seven and Reuben Foster six. Senior linebacker Tim Williams had three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble and Allen and Evans also contributed sacks. Evans and Anderson also
Alabama returns to SEC action next Saturday, Oct. 8 as it travels to Fayetteville to battle Bret Bielema's Arkansas Razorbacks.
The game is set to kickoff at 6 p.m CT and will be televised by ESPN.

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