Nov. 21, 2009
Final Stats |
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)
No. 2 Alabama scored five touchdowns on five straight possessions in the first half in a 45-0 shutout of Chattanooga on Senior Day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Alabama defense was suffocating, holding the Mocs to 84 total yards on the day, forcing three turnovers and allowing only one first down after halftime.
"We were pleased to be able to play as many players as we played today," head coach Nick Saban said. "It was great for the seniors who were acknowledged. I think that just about every senior on our team got to play in the game. It was good that the players came out and played Alabama football and got ahead in the game so that those players got an opportunity to play."
Alabama punted on its first and last possessions of the first half, but scored five straight touchdowns on the possessions in between. Running back Trent Richardson got the scoring started with a two-yard run behind, capping an 11-play drive that included nine running plays.
The Alabama defense forced a three-and-out on Chattanooga's next possession, and it didn't take long for the Tide offense to put its second touchdown on the board. Quarterback Greg McElroy hooked up with receiver Julio Jones on a deep pass for 44 yards on the first play of the drive and, on the next play, running back Mark Ingram shook off several would-be tacklers while rumbling 25 yards to the end zone to give Alabama a 14-0 lead.
On Chattanooga's next play from scrimmage, linebacker Cory Reamer intercepted a wide receiver reverse pass from Jare Gault, Reamer's first career interception, giving Alabama good field position at the Mocs' 31-yard line. On the fourth play of the ensuing drive, McElroy cashed in the turnover with a 19-yard strike to Jones, extending the Tide lead to 21-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
Cornerback/returner Javier Arenas set the tone for the second quarter when he took a Chattanooga punt, darted to the outside, and streaked up the sideline for a 66-yard score on the second play of the quarter to take the Alabama lead to 28-0. The return was Arenas's seventh career punt return touchdown, establishing a new SEC record.
"I think it's tremendous for Javy (Arenas) that he set some kind of touchdown record or whatever today," Saban said. He has made a lot of big plays, and it's good for him to make a big play today."
"Everybody executed which made my job much easier," Arenas said. "I didn't have that many tackles to break off on the punt return game, and I just played my assignment on defense. Everybody communicated so it made everything that much easier."
Chattanooga moved into Alabama territory on its next possession, but the Tide defense held on fourth down, forcing a turnover. Once again, the Alabama offense took advantage swiftly. Following three runs by Richardson that netted 22 yards, Ingram broke his second long run of the day, this time a 40-yarder for his second touchdown. The 40-yard scamper was Ingram's final carry of the day. He finished with 102 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
"I think Mark (Ingram) is strong, and I don't think he should be underestimated for his balance and body control, the power and strength that he has as a runner, and he's got explosive speed to go with it," Saban said. "He also can change directions so you don't get those straight-up hits on him. But, he's done that consistently all year long.
"I'm sure we could have left him in there today and he could have had a huge day, but he gained 100 yards, that's a good day's work when you come out with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter, or whenever it was. Hopefully, that recovery will help him a little bit for what we need to get done in the future."
Chattanooga posed its first scoring threat on its next drive, but on fourth-and-six at the Alabama 22, Arenas intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards to keep the shutout intact as Alabama took a 35-0 lead into halftime.
On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Alabama safety Justin Woodall intercepted a Chattanooga pass and returned it to the Mocs' 32-yard line. With quarterback Star Jackson at quarterback, the Tide gained one first down to set up a 41-yard field goal by Leigh Tiffin, making the score 38-0. The kick was Tiffin's 10th straight made field goal, and tied the senior for the Alabama career record for field goals at 78. He also matched his own single-season field goal mark of 25.
From that point, Alabama turned the game over to the defense. Alabama gave up only 17 yards and one first down in the second half. The defense pressured Mocs' quarterback B.J. Coleman all day, and Coleman finished the game 7-of-25 for 36 yards and two interceptions.
Alabama controlled the ball with the running game after halftime, mounting one drive that lasted 19 plays and ate up 10:14 on the clock, including 16 running plays.
Alabama senior running back Roy Upchurch ended the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run to take the score to 45-0. Upchurch carried 17 times for 70 yards in the game.
For Alabama, McElroy finished 6-of-11 for 80 yards and a touchdown in only one half of action. Jackson completed 4-of-5 attempts for 29 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. As a team, Alabama ran for 313 yards on 56 carries. Richardson finished with nine runs for 60 yards, and Demetrius Goode had 11 carries for 70 yards. Linebacker Rolando McClain led the Tide defense with seven tackles. Alabama had seven pass break-ups during the game, and Arenas led the team with two.
Twenty-seven seniors were honored on the field before kickoff in their last home game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Among those recognized were Arenas, nose guard Terrence Cody, offensive guard Mike Johnson, Reamer and Tiffin.
"It was exciting for everybody," Reamer said." This was the last time we get to play here. It was emotional at the same time because it's the last time we're going to be able to play in front of our home fans. To go out like we did, like we talked about, dominating and playing really well for all these seniors that have been here for so long, and getting the first-career interception on Senior Day was huge."
Alabama goes on the road next week to face rival Auburn on Friday, Nov. 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Central time, and the game will air on CBS.