(11) Alabama - 27, (2) Auburn - 28
- Tidenews
November 27, 2010

  Mark Ingram
Mark Ingram hurdles Auburn defensive back Demond Washington (14) for a first down during the second half.
Photo Credit - AP
TUSCALOOSA - Julio Jones could not be stopped. Greg McElroy couldn't miss.

That's how it went for a half at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Friday, but the University of Alabama's star wideout and senior quarterback weren't able to finish, literally, against No. 2 Auburn.

The ninth-ranked Crimson Tide took it to Auburn from the first play, when McElroy tossed to Jones for a 9-yard gain, but by the end of the game both players were on the injury report.

Jones sustained a knee injury in the fourth quarter, probably on a kickoff return early in the period, and was in and out of the lineup after that. McElroy got knocked out, leaving the game with a concussion at the end of Alabama's next-to-last possession.

Jones had the 9-yard catch and a 12-yard run on an end-around on Alabama's opening touchdown drive, but he was far from finished. Soon after, he turned a blown Auburn coverage into a 68-yard score that put Alabama up 14-0 and had catches of 11, 9 and 11 yards on UA's third scoring drive, which put Alabama up 21-0 late in the first quarter.

"They were on, they were on," Tide running back Mark Ingram said. "Julio was making guys miss, breaking tackles and had a big game."

By halftime, McElroy after a 12-for-12 start had completed 19 of 23 attempts for 335 yards and two touchdowns, with Jones catching seven passes for 174 yards and a score. Not coincidentally, Alabama led 24-7 at intermission.

"They did a great job," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "That was about as fine a first half of offensive football as we've played here in a long time, against a good team."

Said tight end Preston Dial, "That's Alabama football. When we come out and we do things right, that's what happens."

"It wasn't anything special. There weren't any gimmicks. Those are the plays we've been running all year. We covered the guys up, got up and down the field and played fast."

The rest of the way, McElroy was 8-for-14 for just 42 yards, with Jones adding three more catches for 25 yards. Alabama's point total the rest of the way was one field goal, and that came courtesy of a fumbled punt return by the Tigers rather than by anything Alabama did on offense.

The injury to Jones, and one to fellow wideout Darius Hanks, played a part in the deflated production. Saban said Alabama was hampered by not having both on the field at crucial points late in the game.

Alabama had costly turnovers in the first half, when Ingram was stripped of the ball at the end of a 41-yard catch-and-run play, and when McElroy was sacked by unblocked Nick Fairley, Auburn's fearsome pass rusher, to end a possession inside the AU 10 with less than a minute to go in the first half.

That play seemed to signal the beginning of the end for the Alabama offense. The Tide managed just two first downs in the third quarter as Auburn came back to reclaim the lead, and never really threatened in the final period.

"The second half, we went back to that inconsistency, had a lot of mistakes and that's what hurt us," Dial said. "It stung the way it came out."

Jones established single-season Alabama records in the game. He now has 75 catches for 1,084 yards, passing DJ Hall in both categories.

Any chance McElroy might have had to top the previous year's game-winning drive against Auburn was dashed when he was injured on a sack by T'Sharvan Bell to end a drive at the Auburn 40-yard line. Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron went 0-for-4 on UA's final possession.

"Greg's put up some amazing performances here in this stadium," Dial said. "He was ready to play and he was having a lot of fun. I hated to see him go down."

The Tide now awaite the results of the SEC Championship game that will determine who will play in which bowl game.