(2) Alabama - 45, Chattanooga - 0
- John Zenor, AP Sports Writer
November 21, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- No. 2 Alabama was still celebrating Mark Ingram’s
second long touchdown run when coach Nick Saban told his star tailback
to take the rest of the day off.
Javier Arenas outruns the Chattanooga defense on a 66-yard punt
return for a touchdown in the first half.
Ingram ran for 102 yards and TDs of 25 and 40 yards in the first 20
minutes, then happily yielded the stage while the Crimson Tide breezed
to a 45-0 win over Chattanooga on Saturday.
“Just get in, get a good day’s work, execute and have some success.
Then let the other people get the playing time they deserve,” Ingram
Yes, the Tide (11-0) did make it seem just that easy.
Alabama raced to a 35-0 halftime lead and showed no signs of a letdown
ahead of games with rival Auburn and No. 1 Florida. That enabled the
starters to take a break in the second half against the Mocs (6-5),
although Ingram and the Tide still managed a few highlight-reel plays.
Javier Arenas set the SEC career record with his seventh punt return
for a touchdown, sprinting 66 yards down the right sideline in the
second quarter. He also had an interception.
Julio Jones caught a 44-yard pass and scored on a 19-yarder from Greg
The stats were perhaps even more lopsided than the final score. The
Tide had a 422-84 advantage in total yards, gained 313 on the ground
and had five players with at least 60 yards rushing. They also had 26
first downs while holding Chattanooga to five.
It only seemed like a pressure-free game. Saban warned his team of
the repercussions of a huge upset, even beyond their national title
“I told the players if we had lost this game today, there would be
nothing else that would tarnish what you’ve accomplished more than
that. You would someday be an NFL player in a Mercedes-Benz and roll
your window down to talk to a pretty girl and she’d say, ‘You lost to
Chattanooga when you played at Alabama,”’ Saban said. “Nobody would
ever forget that one.”
Instead, it’ll be forgotten quickly with the Iron Bowl awaiting six
This was the sixth time the Tide’s defense had held an opponent to
seven points or less this season, but the first shutout since last
year’s 36-0 win over Auburn.
“We played a good football team and I don’t know if there was much we
could have done to be better than this,” said first-year Mocs coach
Russ Huesman, who led a turnaround after a 1-11 season.
Ingram managed his sixth 100-yard effort of the last seven games
despite carrying only 11 times. The Heisman Trophy candidate broke
three tackles and had two defenders draped across his back at the
end of the 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Then, Ingram zigzagged 40 yards for another score 5 minutes into the
second quarter on his final carry. Then he headed to the sidelines
and Saban told him he “was pretty much done.”
“I’m sure we could have left him in today and he could have had a
huge day,” Saban said. “He gained 100 yards. That’s a good day’s work
when you come out with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter.”
McElroy was 6-of-11 passing for 80 yards, including that 19-yard
touchdown pass to Jones, before giving way to backup Star Jackson in
the second half. Jones caught three passes for 65 yards, all in the
After that, Alabama attempted only five passes, content to control
the ball against the Southern Conference team and let the clock wind
toward bigger games. It was the finale at Bryant-Denny Stadium for 27
“Just about every senior on our team got to play in the game,” Saban
said. “It was good that the players came out and played Alabama
football so those guys got a chance to play.”
Arenas wasn’t the only Bama special teamer in record territory. Leigh
Tiffin kicked a 41-yard field goal, tying the school records for kicks
made in a season (25) and career (78).
Arenas sat out the second half and only got halfway to his ideal final
home performance of scoring “a couple of touchdowns” that he stated
early in the week.
“I’ll settle for one,” Arenas said.
He is 37 yards shy of the Lee Nalley of Vanderbilt’s SEC career punt
return record of 1,695 yards, and 103 yards from the NCAA mark set by
Texas Tech’s Wes Welker.
Trent Richardson and Roy Upchurch also rushed for touchdowns.
Chattanooga twice drove into Alabama territory in the first half,
both times failing to convert on fourth-and-long. The first ended
with four straight incompletions from the 38, and the second on an
interception from the 22.
“I didn’t feel like bragging about kicking a field goal and having
three points on the board,” Huesman said. “You kick field goals to put
yourself in position to win games. You don’t kick field goals just
because you’re at Alabama trying to put three points on the board.”