By Scott Latta
UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.--The University of Alabama football team put up 444 yards of total offense Saturday night, including 219 on the ground, en route to a 41-7 win over Louisiana Monroe at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Crimson Tide never trailed in the game, scoring five touchdowns on the night and converting six-of-seven possessions in the red zone. Alabama ran 43 times, with nine players carrying the ball. The Tide's 41 points scored was the fourth-highest total under Tide Head Coach Mike Shula.
"It was good to get our third win," Shula said. "We played a good second half. The defense did a good job getting the offense the ball. We kept at it and got on track."
Alabama sophomore quarterback John Parker Wilson echoed Shula's statements.
"Forty-one points? Anytime you can score that many, it's good for the offense," Wilson said. "The offense played great. We had some guysÂ--DJ Hall played great. Our offensive line blocked their tails off."
Alabama will put its 3-0 record on the line next week when the Tide continues SEC play at Arkansas. The game is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
"It's a very tough place to go up there to Arkansas. It's going to be fun," Wilson said. "I'm looking forward to it. We're going to have a good week of preparation though.
"We know we're capable but tonight we were just able to put it together better. We've struggled, but we knew we had the opportunity to put it together. It'll make us sleep easier tonight."
The Alabama offense came alive in the second half, scoring 24 points and holding the ball for more than 17 minutes in the last two quarters. An interception by senior Jeffrey Dukes with 8:03 left in the game set up Alabama's last score of the nightÂ--a five-play, 38-yard scoring drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run from freshman Roy Upchurch, to give the Tide a 41-7 lead with 5:11 left in the game.
The Alabama defense held the Louisiana Monroe to just 196 total yards on the night, allowing just 73 yards through the air. Senior Terrance Jones led the Tide with seven total tackles.
"We've been in a game down in the second half, and we've been in a game up in the second half and blown the team out, so it can go either way," said junior defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry, who finished the night with three tackles. "We feel like we need to play 100 percent ball, and we haven't done that yet. We don't know what we are capable of yet, with all of our guys playing 100 percent.
"We don't know yet what we need to work on, but we'll go out tomorrow and look, and we'll know."
Upchurch scored his first career touchdown with a one-yard run with 9:47 left in the game, capping an eight-play, 29-yard drive, giving the Tide a 34-7 lead. He had eight rushes for 28 yards on the drive, finishing the night with 37 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Alabama extended its lead to 27-7 with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to junior DJ Hall with 16 seconds left in the third quarter. The touchdown pass, Wilson's second of the night, Hall's second of the season.
The Tide opened its second half scoring with a 13-play, 42-yard drive that stalled inside the five-yard line. A 26-yard field goal from freshman Leigh Tiffin upped the Tide's lead to 20-7 with 8:41 left in the third quarter.
Alabama has scored points on its opening drives of the second half in all three games this season. On the night, Wilson was 13-of-21 for 210 yards with two touchdowns. Junior Keith Brown led the Tide receiving corps with five catches for 41 yards. Sophomore Travis McCall had two catches for 41 yards and Hall had one catch for 43 yards and a touchdown.
The Tide took a 17-7 lead to the half, capping its first half scoring with a six-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown run from senior Tim Castille. Brown caught a 33-yard pass from Wilson and rushed for 20 yards on a reverse to set up the Tide's second score.
"I ran the ball well within the 20-yard line," Brown said. "In the Red Zone area I've got to work on catching the ball and scoring."
Louisiana Monroe's only score of the night came on a two-yard Kinsmon Lancaster touchdown run, which capped an 11-play, 83-yard scoring drive that drew the Warhawks to within 10-7 with 8:30 left in the first half. Calvin Dawson ran the ball seven times on the drive for 77 yards. He ended the half with 106 rushing yards, but was held to just 13 in the second half.
"I tried to come out in the second half and run the ball," Dawson said. "They were worried about me and what I was doing. Their ends were coming really more upfield than downfield."
Alabama extended its lead to 10-0 with 14:09 left in the first half when junior Keith Saunders forced a Lancaster fumble, recovering it at the Louisiana Monroe 24-yard line. A 34-yard Tiffin field goal capped Alabama's four-play drive.
Alabama struck first with an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive led by Wilson, who was 3-3 for 52 yards on the drive, throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Le'Ron McClain with 6:23 left in the first quarter. Tiffin's extra point gave the Tide the 7-0 lead.