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No. 11 Alabama Rolls Over Western Kentucky 41-7

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM John Parker Wilson set Alabama's career total offense record in the first half Saturday.
John Parker Wilson set Alabama's career total offense record in the first half Saturday.

Sept. 13, 2008

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By Scott Latta, UA Media Relations

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 11 Alabama rolled up 557 yards of total offense Saturday night and scored five touchdowns, including three on the ground, in a dominating 41-7 performance over Western Kentucky (1-2) in front of a sellout crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama (3-0) scored early and often in Saturday’s game, holding a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 31-7 lead at the half.

"The congratulations goes to our players,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban. “They did a great job. This is the way we want to play in a game like this. We dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We made some plays.

“We talk about playing 60 minutes and we did that.  Everything we have done to this point is getting us ready for the SEC.  Hopefully, this will carry over to next week."

Though Alabama did the bulk of its damage on the ground in Saturday’s game — the Tide recorded 281 rushing yards and three scores — it was a record-breaking night for quarterback John Parker Wilson.

Wilson finished the game 17-of-27 for 215 yards and two touchdowns. On an 8-yard pass to Mike McCoy in the second quarter, Wilson passed former Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle as the career leader in total offense at the University. Wilson is credited with 6,321 yards in his Alabama career, lifting him above Croyle’s total of 6,205.

Additionally, Wilson passed former Tide quarterback Andrew Zow in the first quarter for second in career passing yards at the University and tied the Alabama career record for touchdown passes in the third quarter. Wilson trails only Croyle for the top spot on each list.

“The entire offense played a lot better than last week,” Wilson said. “It was good to come out and start the way we did. We were able to sustain the whole game. It was good to come out and execute the way we did and work hard.”

Alabama received a pair of first quarter touchdowns from freshman tailback Mark Ingram to open up an early lead over the Hilltoppers. Ingram punctuated the Tide’s first drive with an 8-yard score, then took one in from six yards out a few minutes later.

Ingram finished the game with nine carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns. The Tide’s leading rusher was junior Glen Coffee, who ran the ball 11 times for 97 yards, all in the first half, an average of 8.8 yards per rush.

Alabama also got a first half touchdown from sophomore Terry Grant, on a  rush from eight yards out. The Tide’s final score of the half came after a Western Kentucky touchdown, when Wilson led Alabama back down the field, capping the drive with a 2-yard pass to Nick Walker for a 31-7 lead at the break.

“We did a really good job controlling the line of scrimmage, running it effectively, and we made some plays in the passing game,” Saban said. “We made some explosive plays. That’s something we need to continue to do. We still had a few plays that were miscues in the passing game, which is something we need to clean up and not have those negative plays occur, but all in all I was really pleased with the balance that we had especially on offense in terms of run and pass.”

Wilson’s second passing touchdown came in the third quarter, on a 12-yard throw to freshman Julio Jones.  Jones finished the game as the Tide’s leading receiver, with five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.  Sophomore Earl Alexander, in his first action of the season, caught three passes for 50 yards. McCoy had three catches for 42 yards.

It was a dominant night for the Alabama defense, as the Tide held Western Kentucky to just 158 total yards, including 42 on the ground. It was Alabama’s fourth straight game to hold its opponent under 100 rushing yards, dating back to last season’s Independence Bowl win over Colorado.

Alabama forced two turnovers in Saturday’s game, recovering a fumble in the first quarter and intercepting a pass in the fourth.

“I think we did a lot better coming out and staying focused the entire game,” said Alabama safety Rashad Johnson, who led the Tide defense with seven tackles. “We knew what they were going to do. There really wasn’t anything that they lined up in that was much different than we practiced against. We were really just ready for them.”

Alabama hits the road next week in its first SEC action of the season. The Tide will travel to Fayetteville to face Arkansas (2-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and the game will be televised on Raycom Sports.