Sept. 15, 2012
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The top-ranked Crimson Tide (3-0 overall; 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference) was physically dominant on the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively, and took advantage of five Arkansas turnovers in a 52-0 rout of the Razorbacks (1-2 overall; 0-1 in the SEC) on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 74,617 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The margin of victory represents the largest Alabama victory margin in an SEC game since a 55-0 win over Auburn in 1948 and is the fourth-largest margin in an SEC game ranking behind a 65-0 win over Sewanee in 1937, a 66-3 win at Vanderbilt in 1979, and the 55-0 win vs. Auburn in 1948. In addition, the shutout marked the first time Arkansas has failed to score in Fayetteville since 1966.
Alabama had four scoring drives of 30 yards or less, including two of less than 10 yards, as the Tide's defense and special teams forced turnovers leading to scores. AJ McCarron completed 11 of 16 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown, while receiver Christion Jones caught three passes for 73 yards and running back Eddie Lacy had 55 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Alabama offense. Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix set up one score by returning an interception 46 yards to the Arkansas 3-yard line, Vinnie Sunseri ended an Arkansas threat with an interception. Alabama limited the injury-plagued Razorbacks offense to 137 total yards on the day.
Alabama broke on top on its second possession, a short drive set up by a miscue by the Arkansas punt team as the center snap sailed over punter Dylan Breeding, who kicked the ball through the back of the end zone. That play resulted in a penalty for illegal kicking, setting up the Tide at the Arkansas 6-yard line. On the next play, Lacy took a handoff and battled into the end zone for a touchdown to give Alabama a 7-0 lead with 9:40 left in the first quarter with Jeremy Shelley's conversion kick.
On the next possession, two 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the Alabama defense kick-started the Arkansas offense as the Razorbacks stormed back down the field. But that march, a 51-yard drive in eight plays that carried from the Arkansas 25 to the Alabama 24, ended in a missed 41-yard field goal attempt by Zack Hocker that hit the left upright with 6:01 left in the period.
After an exchange of punts, Alabama asserted its rushing game late in the first quarter on a drive that started at the Crimson Tide 20 and ended with a 51-yard field goal by Cade Foster with 14:10 remaining in the second quarter. After a 13-yard pass from McCarron to DeAndrew White started the drive, the Tide rushed for 33 yards into Arkansas territory. The march took nine plays and consumed 3:25 of game time as Alabama extended the lead.
Arkansas marched into Alabama territory on the ensuing possession, but that drive ended when Sunseri intercepted a Brandon Allen pass at the Tide 20-yard line and returned it to the Alabama 33 with 11:27 remaining in the second period. The Alabama running game continued to get on track after the interception with Lacy rushing for 19 yards on the march, but it was a 28-yard pass from McCarron to Christion Jones to the Arkansas 11 that highlighted the drive. After a holding penalty by Christion Jones negated a 10-yard run by Lacy, McCarron hit Amari Cooper on a short pass that Cooper turned into a 20-yard touchdown. Shelley hit the extra point to give Alabama a 17-0 lead with 8:58 left in the second quarter.
One play after a 52-yard field goal attempt by Foster hit the upright; Clinton-Dix intercepted a pass by Allen and returned it 46 yards to the Arkansas 3-yard line. After McCarron lost two yards via a fumbled center snap exchange, Lacy carried for four yards to the Arkansas 1. On third-and-goal, Lacy scored from a yard out on a run off right tackle with 3:01 left in the first half to extend the Alabama lead to 24-0 following Shelley's kick.
Alabama salted away the game on the opening possession of the second half, taking the kickoff and marching 75 yards in six plays to score on Lacy's third touchdown of the day, a 10-yard run with 12:10 remaining in the third quarter. Shelley's conversion kick gave the Tide a 31-0 lead.
The lead widened to 38-0 just 43 seconds later after Arkansas' Dennis Johnson fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Foster recovered for Alabama at the Razorback 27-yard line. That miscue set up a touchdown as McCarron connected with Cooper for 26 yards on the first play of the drive before T.J. Yeldon scored on a one-yard run on the next play.
As the Tide emptied its bench in the fourth quarter, the Alabama reserves added to the margin with a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that consumed 7:31 of game clock. That march was capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Kenyan Drake to move the margin to 45-0 with Shelley's conversion kick. Alabama would score one more time as a perfectly executed fake handoff from Blake Sims to Ben Howell allowed Sims to run the ball into the end zone 27 yards for the score. Shelley would hit his seventh extra point of the game, setting the score at 52-0.
The Tide returns home next weekend for a matchup with Florida Atlantic. The game is slated to kick off in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 4 p.m. CT and will air on a pay-per-view basis.