April 20, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Before a crowd of 78,315, the White team defeated the Crimson team, 17-14, in the annual Alabama Football Golden Flake A-Day Spring Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in perfect weather conditions Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon, playing for the White team, earned the Dixie Howell Award given to the game’s most valuable player, after totaling 129 yards on the day (69 rushing, 60 receiving), including the game-winning touchdown. Yeldon led all players in rushing and receiving yardage on the day. It marked the second consecutive year for Yeldon to win the honor.
Sophomore center Ryan Kelly of the White team earned the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the Game Award given to the game’s most valuable lineman.
White team quarterback AJ McCarron finished the day completing 19 of 30 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. McCarron led the White team to 335 total yards. The Crimson team totaled 285 total yards on the day. The teams combined for nine turnovers, including five by the Crimson team and four by the White team.
“The biggest thing I was concerned about was how the team would go out there and what would be their energy, their enthusiasm, and their attention to detail,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “I don’t think that there were enough guys that answered that question in a positive way to my liking. But I’m never satisfied.”
The White team took the early lead in the first quarter on a 40-yard pass from AJ McCarron to Kenny Bell with 12:05 remaining. Cade Foster’s kick gave the White a 7-0 lead. The pass capped a 70-yard drive in four plays. A short time later, the White upped its lead to 10-0 on a 29-yard field goal by Cade Foster with 7:09 left in the first period. That field goal was set up by a 42-yard interception return by Nick Perry of a Blake Sims pass to set up the White at the Crimson 12.
The scored remained 10-0 until the last play of the first half. On a first-and-10 at the Crimson 39, White team quarterback AJ McCarron’s pass down the left sideline was intercepted at the Crimson 14 by Crimson safety Vinnie Sunseri who took the pass and raced diagonally across the field on an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown. Sunseri’s score narrowed the White team’s halftime lead to 10-7 following Adam Griffith’s conversion kick.
The second half was a deadlock until the late going. The Crimson team took a 14-10 lead with 2:01 remaining on a 55-yard fumble recovery return for an interception by safety HaHa Clinton-Dix with 2:01 remaining in the fourth quarter. Clinton-Dix scooped up a fumble caused by cornerback Deion Belue who stripped the football from the hands of tight end Brian Vogler at the Crimson 45-yard line after an 8-yard completion. Griffith’s extra-point kick gave the Crimson the four-point lead late in the game.
The White team stormed back on a game-winning drive to take the lead just 57 seconds later, moving 70 yards in only four plays. McCarron led the march, completing three consecutive passes to set up the winning touchdown. He started the march with a four-yard pass to Amari Cooper then completed a nine-yard pass to Yeldon to the White 43. The biggest play of the game followed as McCarron hit Christion Jones on a deep flag route down the middle of the field for 50 yards to the Crimson 7-yard line. Yeldon took it from there, taking a handoff from McCarron on a draw play over left guard to pay dirt with 1:04 remaining. Cade Foster’s conversion kick gave the White team a 17-14 lead.
Quarterback Alec Morris led the Crimson team downfield in the final seconds, but threw incomplete in the end zone for Chris Black on the game’s last play.
Four players saw time at quarterback for the Crimson team. Alec Morris completed 10 of 18 passes for 141 yards without an interception or a touchdown. Blake Sims completed 5 of 10 for 52 yards with two interceptions. Cooper Bateman was 1 of 3 with two interceptions for three yards. Luke Del Rio completed 2 of 3 for 38 yards without throwing an interception or a touchdown.
For the White team, Phillip Ely and Parker McLeod saw action behind starter AJ McCarron. Ely completed 2 of 4 passes for eight years while McLeod completed 1 of 2 for 19 yards.
While Yeldon led the Crimson team with 69 yards rushing on 15 attempts and scored a touchdown, Kenyan Drake led the White team with 33 yards on 8 carries. Yeldon also led all receivers with 7 catches for 60 yards. Drake led the Crimson team with 4 catches for 18 yards. Kenny Bell of the White team led all receivers with 71 yards on 3 catches, including a 40-yard catch. DeAndrew White led the White team with 62 yards on 3 catches. Christion Jones of the White team had 3 catches for 55 yards, including a game-long 50-yard catch.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley of the Crimson team had a game-high 9 tackles and a fumble recovery while linebacker Tana Patrick had 8 stops. Defensive back Landon Collins led the White team with 5 tackles. Cody Mandell had an outstanding day punting for both teams. He punted 7 times for an average of 48.3 yards per punt with 338 total yards. Three of Mandell’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.
The attendance of 78,315 is the sixth-largest spring game attendance total at Alabama. More than 592,000 fans have attended the seven A-Day games during Saban’s tenure as head coach, including 90,000 plus in three of the seven years.