By Scott Latta, UA Media Relations
NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Alabama football team (2-0, 1-0) got big offensive performances from tailback Terry Grant and receiver DJ Hall Saturday, racking up 371 total yards and containing the Vanderbilt offense enough to claim a 24-10 win over the Commodores (1-1, 0-1) in Nashville.
Grant carried the ball 24 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns, an average of more than seven yards per carry, with 120 yards coming in the second half.
On Alabama’s final scoring drive, the freshman had eight carries for 80 of Alabama’s 86 yards, scoring from two yards out with 14:19 left to extend the Tide lead to 24-3.
“I had no idea what the plan was, we just got in the groove of running the football and that’s basically how it happened,” Grant said. “We just pounded it down there and scored.”
Alabama finished the day with 221 yards on the ground and 22 first downs, giving the Tide 534 total rushing yards and 57 first downs in its first two games.
Junior quarterback John Parker Wilson finished the day 14-of-28 for 150 yards. Hall, who became just the second receiver in Alabama history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark for a career, finished with three catches for 67 yards.
For the second consecutive week, the Alabama offense scored on its first play from scrimmage. In Alabama’s first game against Western Carolina, sophomore Javier Arenas set up a 47-yard touchdown run from Grant with an opening kickoff return into Catamount territory.
This time, Arenas fielded a Brett Upson punt at his own 30 and returned it 69 yards to the Commodore one-yard line, setting up Grant on the next play.
“I knew I wanted to get a score on it because it’s not going to happen every time,” Grant said. “Not in the SEC.”
Alabama added field goals of 20, 40 and 29 yards from sophomore Leigh Tiffin to take a 16-3 lead into halftime.
“Special teams were an asset for us today, and it started with the long punt return to start the game,” Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said.
The Alabama defense held Vanderbilt to just 57 rushing yards in Saturday’s game and was able to contain the high-powered combination of quarterback Chris Nickson and receiver Earl Bennett, allowing Bennett just four catches for 52 yards.
Nickson, who was sacked twice, was 5-of-18 for 67 yards passing before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. He was intercepted in the first quarter by Alabama junior Rashad Johnson.
“Early in the game they were going downfield, so when we came out of that first series coach wanted to make sure our middle safety was deep,” Johnson said. “The guys up front really got a lot of pressure. Wallace [Gilberry], Zeke [Knight], Bobby Greenwood really got a lot of pressure on Nickson and I saw him roll to that side so I kind of cheated over and he threw it up and I was there to make the play.”
The defense was led by senior Darrin Mustin, a Tennessee native, and freshman Rolando McClain, who each had six tackles.
“I’m very pleased and proud of how we played today,” Saban said. “We played with a lot of conviction and played for the full 60 minutes. Our defense did a good job with their players.”
Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa next week when the Crimson Tide takes on the Arkansas Razorbacks (1-0, 0-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.