By Scott Latta
Alabama Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.--The Alabama football team scored in all three phases of Saturday's game against Florida International, holding the Golden Panthers (0-8, 0-3) to 181 total yards as the Crimson Tide (6-3, 2-3) rolled to a 38-3 Homecoming win at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
After surrendering a first quarter field goal, the Alabama defense stiffened, allowing only 84 yards in the final three quarters. Alabama scored 38 unanswered points from that point on, with touchdowns coming from the offense, defense and special teams.
"That's a big plus," said Alabama senior Le'Ron McClain. "You have to win games in three aspects. We were the better special teams today, and we came out with the victory."
With Alabama trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, Tide senior Forress Rayford broke through the FIU offensive line and blocked the Chris Cook punt, giving Alabama possession at the FIU 33-yard line. On the next play, sophomore John Parker Wilson hit sophomore Will Oakley for 24 yards to the Panther 9-yard line. On the next play, Wilson found senior Le'Ron McClain for the score to put Alabama up 7-3 with 10:11 left in the first half.
Alabama took a 10-3 halftime lead on a 46-yard field goal by junior Jamie Christensen, then scored first in the second half on a 65-yard punt return by freshman Javier Arenas. The punt return for a touchdown, the first of Arenas' career, was Alabama's first since 2003 and put the Tide up 17-3.
"Our first series we went three-and-out and it was a battle," senior Tim Castille said. "We wanted to step up offensively and get that touchdown and we don't even have to go on the field. Anytime that happens, that is big."
On the first play of FIU's next drive, Alabama junior Demarcus Waldrop forced a Chance Attaway fumble at the 18, which was picked up by junior Simeon Castille and returned 11 yards to the FIU 7. Four plays later, Tim Castille found the end zone from one yard out, extending the Alabama lead to 24-3 with 7:14 left in the third quarter.
The Alabama defense got on the board in the fourth quarter when senior Ramzee Robinson recorded his first interception of the year and returned the Josh Padrick pass 34 yards for his first career touchdown. The score put Alabama on top 31-3 with 10:18 left in the game.
Alabama went up 38-3 on a 6-yard pass from sophomore Jimmy Barnes to junior Matt Caddell with 3:06 left. The pass capped an 11 play, 45-yard scoring drive that saw Barnes complete 5-of-9 passes for 41 yards.
"I really liked the way Jimmy Barnes handled himself on that last drive," Shula said. "He's got good poise. It was good to see him make good throws and get his feet wet."
Wilson echoed Shula's confidence in the Tide backup.
"He did pretty good," Wilson said. "He started throwing it around in the second half. He looks good. He's a good quarterback."
Wilson was 8-of-13 for 72 yards and a touchdown, and Barnes went 6-of-11 for 45 yards and a score. Six Alabama rushers combined for 127 rushing yards, with senior Ken Darby running 10 times for 70 yards.
Alabama returns to SEC play next week when the Crimson Tide hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-7, 0-5). The 11:30 a.m. kickoff will be televised on Lincoln Financial Sports.