(1) Alabama - 38, Western Kentucky - 10
September 10, 2016
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts set a
school record for passing yards by a quarterback in a career
starting debut, throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns
to lead the top-ranked Crimson Tide football team to a
38-10 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers before
a crowd of 101,821 on a sunny Saturday afternoon at
Bryant-Denny Stadium on The University of Alabama campus.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) takes the snap
during the first half of Alabama's football game with
Western Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, at Bryant-Denny
Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Photo Credit - Vasha Huntfirstname.lastname@example.org
In his first career start at quarterback for the Tide,
Hurts completed 23 of 36 attempts for two touchdowns while
passing for 287 yards without an interception. In addition
to breaking the previous record for passing yards in a
starting debut of 285 yards set by Brodie Croyle versus
Arkansas on September 28, 2002. Hurts' performance also
surpassed the previous Crimson Tide freshman passing yards
mark of 167 yards set by Vince Sutton against Tennessee on
October 20, 1984. Hurts connected on three passes of 40
yards or longer while leading a methodical Alabama attack
that complemented another outstanding performance by the
Tide defense, which posted an interception return for a
touchdown for the second consecutive week on a 55-yard
return of a pickoff by safety Eddie Jackson in the second
Tide wide receiver Calvin Ridley's 129 yards and a touchdown
on nine catches led all receivers, while receiver ArDarius
Stewart had five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown,
including a 52-yarder. Receiver Gehrig Dieter had 56 yards
on two catches, including a 40-yarder. Running back Damien
Harris rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries to lead the Tide
on the ground.
Defensively, Alabama was as stingy as ever, allowing the
only touchdown of the season with just 46 seconds remaining
after WKU recovered a Tide fumble at the Alabama 26-yard
line. The Tide was dominant at the line of scrimmage again,
holding the Hilltoppers to 23 yards rushing on 22 attempts,
an average of 1.0 yards per rush. Linebacker Reuben Foster
recorded a team-best six total tackles, including five
solos. Additionally, cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick had five
tackles and broke up a pass. As a unit, the Tide defense
had four quarterback sacks, five tackles for losses,
intercepted two passes, broke up five more passes, forced
two fumbles, and was credited with six quarterback hurries.
Punter JK Scott averaged 46.4 yards on five punts, placing
three inside the Tide 20 and two traveling more than 50
yards with a long of 58. Placekicker Adam Griffith
connected on one of two field goal attempts, making a
36-yarder and missing from 48.
Overall, the Tide gained 475 yards (351 passing and 124
rushing), picked up 23 first downs, and averaged 5.9 yards
per play. WKU totaled 239 yards (216 passing and 23
rushing), along with converting 12 first downs and
averaging 4.0 yards per play.
For WKU, quarterback Mike White passed for 135 yards while
completing 10-of-24 passes with one interception. Reserve
Tyler Ferguson completed 7-of-10 for 55 yards and Drew
Eckels completed two of three for 26 yards and a touchdown.
WKU wide receiver Taywan Taylor caught nine passes for
121 yards, including a 59-yard catch, while Anthony Wales
led the Hilltoppers in rushing with 44 yards on 11 carries.
WKU punter Jake Collins was outstanding, averaging 47.0
yards on eight punts, including three of more than 50
yards with one downed inside the Tide 20-yard line.
The game began with the Tide defense forcing a WKU punt
after three downs. A sack of White by Tide linebacker Ryan
Anderson and defensive end Jonathan Allen for a 13-yard
loss ended the first WKU possession, forcing a punt from
the WKU 17. Alabama marched briskly to the WKU 26 via a
28-yard run by Ridley to the WKU 41, a 10-yard run by
Harris to the WKU 31, and two more rushing plays that
reached the Hilltopper 26. On third and five from there,
a false start-penalty pushed the Tide back five yards.
An incomplete pass forced a 48-yard field goal try by
Adam Griffith, whose kick was wide to the left and no
good to keep it scoreless with 11:52 left in the opening
The Alabama defense forced another three-and-out by WKU
and the Hilltopper punt went out of bounds at the Tide 23
with 11:09 left. Alabama quickly moved 59 yards in five
plays, consuming 1 minute, 59 seconds of clock on the way
to a field goal. On the first play, Hurts passed deep for
Ridley for a 51-yard gain to the WKU 26. Ridley spun in a
circle trying to gauge the pass before hauling it in. From
there, the Hilltopper defense stiffened and forced a
fourth-and-two at the WKU 18 from where Griffith drilled a
36-yard field goal to give the Tide a 3-0 lead with 9:10
left in the first quarter.
From there 21 after the kickoff return, the Hilltoppers
responded aggressively as White connected on a deep pass
to a wide-open Taywan Taylor at the Tide 20. Tide
cornerback Marlon Humphrey forced Taylor to fumble the
ball forward to the Tide 9 where Taylor recovered to
complete a 70-yard gain. The drive stalled at the Tide 8,
concluding with a 25-yard field goal by WKU's Ryan Nuss to
tie the game at 3-3 with 8:03 left in the first quarter.
A 63-yard pass from Hurts to Stewart on the third play of
the next possession reached the WKU 1, but a holding
penalty on the play erased that gain. Facing first-and-20
from the Tide 26, Hurts was sacked for a 9-yard loss by
WKU's Omarius Bryant at the Tide 17. Two plays later from
the Tide 19, Alabama was penalized five yards for a
substitution infraction to the Tide 14. On third-and-32,
Hurts was flushed from the pocket and sacked on third down
for a loss of six yards at the Tide 8. Facing fourth-and-38
from the Tide 8, Alabama punted. WKU returned the punt to
the WKU 47. On first down, a deep pass on a flea flicker
play resulted in a turnover. WKU receiver Nacarius Fant's
pass along the Tide sideline was underthrown and
intercepted by Tide safety Ronnie Harrison at the Tide 27
and returned six yards to the Tide 33.
Alabama regained the lead by moving to a touchdown on a
drive covering 67 yards in nine plays. Two plays into the
drive, on third-and-7 at the Tide 36, Hurts passed to
Ridley for 11 yards and a first down at the Tide 47. A
pass from Hurts to Stewart on the next play netted 18
yards and a first down at the WKU 35. Stewart then took
a reverse for an 11-yard rush to a first down at the WKU
24. After a false start cost the Tide five yards to set
up first-and-15 at the WKU 29, Alabama ended up facing a
third-and-10 at the 24, but Hurts connected with tight
end O.J. Howard just over the outstretched arms of a
defender in the middle of the field for 20 yards and a
first down at the WKU 4. On the next play, Hurts passed
to Ridley for four yards and a touchdown. With Griffith's
kick the Tide led, 10-3, as the first quarter ended.
Midway through the second period, WKU started a drive at
its own 30. On the second play, White passed down the
middle of the field where Tide strong safety Eddie Jackson
intercepted at the Alabama 45 and returned the ball 55
yards for a touchdown. Griffith's conversion kick was good,
giving Alabama a 17-3 lead with 8:59 left in the first half.
Jackson's score marked the second consecutive game to start
the 2016 season in which the Tide has returned an
interception for a score. It also moved to four consecutive
games a streak in which Alabama has scored a non-offensive
touchdown dating back to last year's College Football
Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic when
Cyrus Jones returned a Michigan State punt 57 yards for a
touchdown. Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 95 yards for a
score in the Tide's CFP National Championship Game win over
Clemson, then Marlon Humphrey returned an interception 18
yards for a score in the 2016 season opener against USC.
The teams went to the half with the Tide holding that 17-3
The Tide offense took the ball to open the third quarter
and put together a sustained drive that ended in futility.
Alabama moved 44 yards in 14 plays eating 5:35 of the clock,
but the drive reached only the WKU 40 before the Tide was
forced to punt. After forcing another WKU punt on the
ensuing possession, Alabama moved 48 yards in eight play
to a touchdown. Hurts completed a 15-yard pass to Ridlley
for a first down to the WKU 37 and, later in the march,
the Tide converted a fourth-and-one situation into a
first-and-goal when Harris took a handoff over left tackle
for five yards to the WKU eight-yard line. Hurts then found
Stewart on a short crossing pattern and Stewart took it
in from there for the touchdown. Griffith's conversion
kick was good and Alabama led, 24-3, with 3:48 left in the
Alabama extended the lead again on its next offensive
series, marching 76 yards in 10 plays in 3:56 to a
two-yard touchdown run by running back Bo Scarborough
with 13:14 left in the fourth period. Hurts passed to
Ridley for eight yards to convert a third down into a
first down at the Tide 39, then a 40-yard pass from Hurts
to Gehrig Dieter carried to the WKU 7. Three plays later,
Scarborough took a handoff at left tackle and went
untouched into the end zone for a touchdown, the first
of his Alabama career. Griffith's point-after kick gave
the Tide a 31-3 lead.
An 11-play, 59-yard drive later in the fourth period ended
on a six-yard touchdown run by freshman running back B.J.
Emmons, his first career rushing touchdown at Alabama.
Griffith's kick was good to extend the lead to 38-3 with
4:27 on the clock.
The Hilltoppers broke through late in the game to tack on
their only touchdown of the day, and the first touchdown
allowed in 2016 by the Alabama defense. With 1:34
remaining, WKU defensive end Nick Dawson-Brents recovered
a fumble by the Tide's Harris at the Alabama 26. Three
plays later, quarterback Drew Eckels hit wide receiver
Lucky Jackson for 24 yards and a touchdown with 46 seconds
left in the game.
Alabama continues its season Saturday, September 17, with
its 2016 SEC opener as the Crimson Tide will travel to
Oxford, Miss., to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. Kickoff
is scheduled for 2:39 p.m. Central Time at Vaught-Hemingway
Stadium and the game will be televised by CBS.