(4) Alabama - 53, North Texas - 7
September 19, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.- No. 4 Alabama (3-0) dominated North Texas (1-2)
on both sides of the ball en route to a 53-7 victory at Bryant-Denny
Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Crimson Tide rushed for five
touchdowns by four different players, while the defense held the
Mean Green to just seven first downs.
Alabama showcased a balanced attack on offense, throwing for 264
yards and grinding out 260 yards on the ground to surpass the 500
total yard mark for the second straight game. North Texas finished
with 181 yards of total offense with 61 rushing yards. Through
three games, the Tide defense has allowed only 126 yards (42.0 ypg)
on the ground.
“We challenged our players to go out there for 60 minutes and try
to dominate somebody for 60 minutes in a game,” head coach Nick
Saban said. “I felt like they responded to that. They had better
intensity and energy today from start to finish.”
After a turnover on its first possession, the Alabama offense
asserted itself with four straight touchdown drives. Junior
Greg McElroy got the scoring started with a two-yard scramble
that capped a 13 play, 95-yard drive to put the Tide up 7-0.
McElroy went to the air for the Tide’s second score, finding
sophomore Marquis Maze for a 34-yard strike. Alabama’s next
drive belonged to freshman Trent Richardson who busted a 38-yard
run to put the Tide in scoring position then finished the drive
off with a one-yard dive giving Alabama a 21-0 lead.
Sophomore Mark Ingram gained 108 yards from scrimmage in the first
frame including a 29-yard reception for the Crimson Tide’s final
touchdown of the half.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Star Jackson saw his first significant
game action on the final possession of the first half and led the
Tide down the field for a 35-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal that gave
Alabama a 30-0 lead at the break. Jackson completed 5-of-6 passes
on the drive for 30 yards.
Alabama piled up 353 yards of total offense before intermission
compared to 62 yards for the Mean Green.
McElroy came out for one possession in the second half and it turned
out to be a short possession as the Tide punched in another touchdown
on a three-play drive that took less than a minute. Ingram found the
end zone on a five-yard run to conclude the quick march.
In a little more than a half, McElroy turned in another outstanding
performance, completing 13-of-15 pass attempts for 177 yards and
two scores. His 86.7 completion percentage ties Walter Lewis (1983
vs. Mississippi) and Danny Woodson (1991 vs. Vanderbilt) for the
highest single-game completion percentage for a player with at
least 10 completions.
“We’ve always said that Greg (McElroy) is very smart,” Saban said.
“He’s very instinctive. He takes what the defense gives him. He
doesn’t have a big ego trying to force balls in places that he
shouldn’t, and we probably made as many yards throwing it down to
the check-down as throwing it to anybody else. Greg has really done
a good job in his decision making, his accuracy.”
After McElroy’s exit, Jackson kept the offense ticking, leading
the Tide down the field on three more scoring drives. Junior
Terry Grant cashed in two of those drives with one-yard and
nine-yard touchdown runs respectively. Jackson finished the game
9-of-13 for 88 yards.
“I think for Star Jackson to get to play as much as he did today
was probably a real asset for us relative to the future, especially
playing with our first unit rather than just out there at the end
of the game trying to get the game over,” Saban said.
The Alabama backfield shared the wealth as Ingram, Richardson and
Grant each rushed for more than 75 yards and at least one score.
11 Tide players made receptions in the game led by Maze with four
catches for 49 yards and a score.
North Texas scored its touchdown on a 34-yard pass to Lance Dunbar
late in the third quarter with Alabama leading 44-0.
Sophomore linebacker Chris Jordan led the team with six tackles,
while five other players had five tackles. Sophomore safety Mark
Barron had five tackles including one for a 10-yard loss and two
pass breakups in the secondary.
“Today we came out, and we wanted to start early,” sophomore
linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “We haven’t been doing it the
past couple games so we had to this game. We’re not just a finish
team, we’re a start and finish team. We came out with the right
mentality and right focus and we were obviously communicating very
well. I think that was the key for us today.”
Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play at home next week when
Arkansas visits Bryant-Denny Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 26. Kickoff
is set for 2:30 p.m. Central Time, and CBS will televise the game.