Alabama Handles Arkansas, 35-7, In SEC Opener

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM McElroy. completed 17-of-24 passes in Saturday's win
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
McElroy. completed 17-of-24 passes in Saturday's win
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Sept. 26, 2009

 

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TUSCALOOSA, ALA. - A career-high 291 yards from quarterback Greg McElroy, combined with a staunch defensive effort propelled No. 3 Alabama to a convincing 35-7 win over Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference opener for the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Alabama held a 425-to-254 yard advantage in total offense with five different players scoring for Alabama including three touchdown passes from quarterback Greg McElroy. The defense performed equally well, allowing just 63 yards on the ground with three sacks, eight tackles for a loss, six quarterback hurries and an interception.

McElroy keyed the offensive output with another solid performance, completing 17-of-24 passes for 291 yards and touchdown strikes of 80, 50 and 14 yards with no interceptions. On the ground, Alabama pounded out 134 yards, the majority split between Trent Richardson (9 carries, 65 yards) and Mark Ingram (17 carries, 50 yards). Ingram finished the afternoon with 71 total yards of offense and two touchdowns.

Alabama (4-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead at halftime thanks to two big scoring plays of 52 and 50 yards on the ground and through the air, respectively.

"Offensively we made some big plays," said UA head coach Nick Saban. "We had a plan to go after some of their corners a little bit in the game and we probably should have even done it more. Greg  [McElroy] did a nice job, especially in the second half."

Richardson jump started the Tide's scoring with a 52-yard touchdown run over right end, breaking four tackles behind the line of scrimmage to spring the big run and give the Tide a 7-0 lead with 9:30 left in the half.

Following another defensive stop, the offense tacked on another touchdown when a direct-snap reverse freed up Julio Jones downfield. McElroy, who received the ball from Terry Grant via Ingram, hit the wide-open Jones for the 50-yard strike to give the Tide the 14-0 halftime lead.

Alabama's defense was the star of the first half, limiting Arkansas to just 101 yards of total offense in the half and forcing the Razorbacks to punt on all seven first-half possessions. The Tide's rush defense was particularly stout, allowing 27 yards on 17 attempts while quarterback Ryan Mallett completed a third of his 21 attempts for 74 yards. The Arkansas signal caller finished the afternoon 12-of-35 for 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Javier Arenas led the Tide's first half defensive effort on the rain-soaked turf with four tackles, all solo, three of them for a loss of 25 yards and two sacks for his first multi-sack game at Alabama.

"Our defensive line did a great job applying pressure," said linebacker Rolando McClain. "We knew the ball was going to come out fast because we were giving pressure. We didn't give up a deep ball I don't think and that's very good as a defense."

Arkansas's lone score came when the Razorbacks took the opening drive of the second half 55-yards in five plays that culminated in an 18-yard toss from Mallett to Greg Childs to cut UA's lead in half at 14-7.

The Tide needed just one play and 20 seconds to respond to Arkansas' first and only score as McElroy found a streaking Marquis Maze along the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown completion to take a 21-7 lead with 10:25 left in the third quarter. The Tide defense returned to form on the ensuing series, forcing a three-and-out that allowed the special teams unit to shine.

With Arkansas in punt formation, punter Dylan Breeding elected to roll to his right to get the punt off, but found only the midsection of a charging Lorenzo Washington.  Breeding recovered the blocked punt and scrambled to his own 35 before being forced out of bounds.

Alabama made use of the short field on the fifth play of the series as McElroy, facing a healthy dose of pressure, dumped the ball off to Ingram on a screen pass. A lone block up the sideline allowed Ingram to waltz into the endzone for the first of his two touchdowns on the day.

UA effectively ended the game with its third straight touchdown drive, this one a clock-killing 99-yard campaign that took 6:28 off the clock before Ingram's two-yard dash ended the day's scoring with 13:12 left in the fourth quarter.

The Crimson Tide will take to the road for its first true away game of the season next weekend when they face Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.


 

 

     
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