Oct. 17, 2009
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- No. 2 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) got a career game from sophomore running back Mark Ingram capped by a five yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that gave Alabama a 20-6 lead and put away a tough No. 22 South Carolina (5-2, 2-2 SEC) team on Homecoming at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night.
Ingram rushed for a career-high 246 yards on 24 carries, the most yards ever amassed by an Alabama back at Bryant-Denny Stadium. On the Tide’s final drive, Ingram carried the ball on all six plays, moving the team 68 yards down the field for the game-sealing touchdown.
South Carolina began its opening possession of the game in Alabama territory after a long kickoff return and 15-yard facemask penalty, but the Tide defense quickly snatched the momentum away when sophomore safety Mark Barron picked off Stephen Garcia’s first pass and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. That score, just more than a minute into the game, would be the only touchdown for either team until Ingram’s five-yard dive with 4:54 left in the fourth quarter.
The Alabama offense moved the ball effectively in the first half but was plagued by turnovers. Junior Greg McElroy threw two interceptions and lost a fumbled snap before the break. On the second interception, Julio Jones stripped South Carolina’s C.C. Whitlock, recovering the ball and allowing the Tide to move down for a Leigh Tiffin field goal that made the score 10-0 late in the first quarter.
South Carolina got on the board in the second quarter with a 22-yard Spencer Lanning field goal set up by a 52-yard reception by Alshon Jeffery. Both teams mounted drives late in the first half that resulted in field goals to make the score 13-6 entering the break.
Ingram was the workhorse for the Tide offense in the first half accounting for 146 of Alabama’s 207 yards prior to intermission. Ingram had 14 carries, five of which went for more than 10 yards.
The third quarter belonged to the defenses as neither team entered the red zone or scored a point. Senior Lorenzo Washington sacked Garcia on the final play of the quarter, forcing the Gamecocks to attempt a 50-yard field goal to start the fourth that came up short.
The Alabama defense pressured Garcia all night sacking the Gamecock quarterback five times and hurrying him many times more. Senior defensive back Tyrone King led the team with 1.5 sacks. Barron led the Tide with eight tackles to go along with his interception and touchdown.
After Ingram’s score, South Carolina moved down inside the 10-yard line, but the Tide defense denied the Gamecocks the touchdown, forcing a turnover on downs. Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in the past two games. Senior cornerback Marquis Johnson was tested numerous times in the red zone, but he rose to the occasion each time and tallied six pass break-ups, equaling the Alabama single-game record for pass breakups.
Alabama finished with 356 yards of total offense compared to 278 for South Carolina. McElroy completed 10-of-20 passes for 92 yards. Garcia went 20-of-46 for 214 yards. Adding to his impressive day, Ingram led Alabama in receiving with two catches for 23 yards giving him 269 yards of total offense.
The Crimson Tide continues a three-game home stand when Tennessee visits Tuscaloosa next Saturday, Oct. 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Central Time on CBS.