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Alabama Football Beats Arkansas 49-14

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Junior Glen Coffee rushed for 162 yards on 10 carries Saturday.
Junior Glen Coffee rushed for 162 yards on 10 carries Saturday.

Sept. 20, 2008

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by Scott Latta, UA Media Relations

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) rushed for 328 yards Saturday against Arkansas, scoring four touchdowns on the ground and forcing four Razorback turnovers in a dominating 49-14 Southeastern Conference opener at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

It was the most points scored by Alabama in an SEC game since the Crimson Tide beat Vanderbilt 59-28 in 1990. Alabama led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 35-7 at the half. Alabama has now outscored its opponents 64-0 in the first quarter this season.

"This wasn't one of our best games, in terms of overall execution," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban, "but we did control the line of scrimmage and we won the turnover battle and that was the big difference in the game."

Alabama got a career day on the ground from junior Glen Coffee. The Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. native carried the ball 10 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns against the Razorbacks, including a career-long 87-yard run in the first quarter to put Alabama up 14-0.

"We were ready to play, but I feel like when I broke that run, the team took it to a whole new level," Coffee said. "I feel like we answered the call. You visualize plays like that every game and when it comes true, you have to give thanks to the Lord. I also give thanks to the (offensive) line for their hard work and thank the coaching staff for the hard work this week and the good schemes."

Each of Alabama's four tailbacks saw significant time against Arkansas. In addition to Coffee's performance, junior Roy Upchurch carried the ball seven times for 91 yards and a touchdown, freshman Mark Ingram ran the ball six times for 53 yards and a touchdown and sophomore Terry Grant had 10 carries for 32 yards.

Ingram's one-yard touchdown put Alabama on the board first in the game, capping a 10-play, 65-yard opening drive that was extended by an Arkansas penalty during an Alabama punt. The score put Alabama up 7-0 less than five minutes into the game. Coffee's 87-yarder then extended the Tide's lead to 14-0, before a 64-yard interception return from junior Javier Arenas put the Tide up 21-0 at the end of the first period.

"It was just one of those situations where the receiver ran an option route and made a slight mistake," Arenas said. "I was able to adjust and take it back for six."

Alabama forced four interceptions on the day, two of which were returned for defensive touchdowns. Sophomore Justin Woodall's 74-yard interception return in the second quarter gave the Tide a 35-7 lead at the half.

"I was thinking touchdown and not getting caught from behind," Woodall said. "It was fun out there today and winning by that big of a margin. We had a good week of practice this week and all three phases of the game came together today."

Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson finished 6-of-14 for 74 yards and a touchdown on the day, which came on a 25-yard strike to freshman Julio Jones in the second quarter. The pass to Jones did more than put Alabama up 28-7; it was Wilson's 42nd career touchdown pass for the Tide, moving him ahead of Brodie Croyle (2002-05) for the top spot on Alabama's career touchdown passes list.

The play of Alabama's offensive line, Saban said, is what enabled Alabama to open up its running game and provide Wilson with enough time in the pocket to be productive.

"Well they did a nice job today; there is no doubt about it," Saban said. "We made some big-play runs and it was all because of the way we blocked them up front. We got a lot of movement. We pushed them."

Alabama's touchdowns in the second half both came on the ground, with Coffee scoring from 31 yards out in the third quarter and Upchurch scoring from 63 yards out in the fourth quarter.

In addition to forcing four interceptions in the game, the Alabama defense recorded two sacks and seven tackles-for-loss while forcing seven punts. Alabama was led by sophomore Rolando McClain, who finished the game with eight tackles, and junior Brandon Fanney, who had seven tackles, including two tackles-for-loss.

At the end of the first half, the Alabama defense held Arkansas out of the end zone on four consecutive plays from the 1-yard line to maintain the Tide's 28-point lead. Alabama has now not allowed a rushing touchdown in 20 consecutive quarters stretching back five games.

The Tide now faces a top-ten clash on the road next Saturday when it travels to Athens, Ga. to face No. 3 Georgia at Sanford Stadium. The game is scheduled for a 6:45 p.m.CT kick off and will be broadcast on ESPN.