(1) Alabama - 52, (20) USC - 6
- rolltide.com
September 3, 2016


 
Damien Harris breaks free for a 73 yard gain against USC.
Photo Credit - USA Today
ARLINGTON, Texas - True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts accounted for four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) while receiver ArDarius Stewart and running back Damien Harris had career-best performances, supplementing a suffocating performance by the Crimson Tide defense to lead the No. 1 ranked University of Alabama football team to a 52-6 victory over the 20th-ranked University of Southern California Trojans before a crowd of 81,359 on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.

The 46-point margin of victory is the largest Alabama winning margin over a top-20 ranked opponent since a 35-0 win at sixth-ranked Florida in 1991, and is the second-largest victory margin over a top 20 team in Crimson Tide history following only a 55-point win (61-6) over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl (1952 season). The largest Alabama victory margin ever against a ranked team was a 59-0 win over No. 21 Texas A&M in 2014.

Making his collegiate debut in a substitute role, Hurts entered the game on Alabama's third offensive possession and the Tide offense began to find its rhythm and identity as he settled in. Hurts was an efficient 6-of-11 for 118 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Harris rushed for 138 yards on nine carries in his first career start at running back, including runs of 73 and 46 yards. Stewart had four catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-long 71-yarder, with all of his career-best totals coming in the first half of action.

Defensively, Alabama was stifling after allowing a scoring drive to open the game. The Tide was dominant at the line of scrimmage, holding the Trojans to 64 yards rushing on 30 attempts, an average of 2.1 yards per rush. Redshirt freshman cornerback Anthony Averette recorded a team-best eight total tackles, including seven solos. Additionally, cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick had six tackles and broke up two passes, defensive end Jonathan Allen had two quarterback sacks and the team broke up seven passes, had nine tackles for loss and three sacks. Sophomore cornerback Marlon Humphrey returned an interception for a touchdown in the first half.

Overall, the Tide gained 465 yards (242 passing and 223 rushing), picked up 15 first downs, and averaged 7.4 yards per play. USC totaled 194 yards (130 passing and 64 rushing), along with converting 11 first downs and averaging 2.9 yards per play.

Other than an opening drive that resulted in a USC field goal, the opening stages of the game was dominated by the defenses of both teams. Field position eventually made a difference for the Tide after a slow start offensively.

The Trojans broke on top early after receiving the opening kickoff. On the game's second play from scrimmage, USC quarterback Max Browne passed deep for wide receiver Darreus Rogers for a 36-yard gain to the Tide 33-yard line. Three plays later, from the Tide 29, USC kicker Matt Boermeester connected on a 47-yard field goal to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead with 12:28 left in the first quarter. Through the first quarter, USC outgained Alabama 78-12 in total yards as Browne completed 8 of 11 pass attempts for 68 yards. But the Trojans' statistical dominance yielded only a 3-0 lead.

Hurts entered the game at quarterback for Alabama on the Tide's third possession of the game, coming in for starter Blake Barnett. In the second quarter Alabama took possession at the USC 36 after a Trojan punt and a personal foul penalty by USC set up the Tide in excellent field position. On third-and-13 at the Trojan 39, Hurts hit Stewart for a 39-yard touchdown strike. Adam Griffith's conversion kick was good and Alabama gained a 7-3 lead with 7:46 left in the second quarter.

The Tide offense began to find a rhythm with Hurts at quarterback as the game progressed. The Tide started a possession from its own 25 with 6:25 left in the first half. Harris gained 11 yards on a run on the first play to the Tide 36. After a keeper by Hurts gained three yards, Harris used a jump-cut to avoid congestion near the line of scrimmage and ran through an attempted tackle to break free on a 46-yard run to the USC 15. Three plays gained four yards and, from the USC 11, Griffith entered to try a 29-yard field goal that was good. With 3:26 left in the second quarter, Alabama led, 10-3.

On the ensuing kickoff, Adoree Jackson returned the kick to the USC 20 but a personal foul penalty on the Trojans' Jabari Ruffin moved the ball back to the USC 10. Ruffin, who kicked Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick when Fitzpatrick was on the ground after the play, was ejected from the game. After a running play gained two yards, Browne's pass was deflected into Humphrey's arms who then returned the ball 18 yards for a touchdown. Griffith's conversion kick was good and Alabama led, 17-3, with 2:37 left in the second quarter.

Alabama compiled a 130-14 advantage in total offense in the second quarter while outrushing the Trojans 82 to minus-4 in the period and scoring 17 unanswered points to take a 17-3 halftime lead. After completing eight of 11 passes in the first quarter, USC's Browne managed only two completions in 10 attempts with one interception against the Tide defense in the second period.

The Tide quickly extended the lead on the opening possession of the second half. After a touchback on the kickoff, Alabama started at its 20. A rush by Joshua Jacobs gained five yards on first down. Hurts lost a yard on a keeper on second down. Facing third-and-six at the Tide 29, USC's defense chose to send a cornerback and a safety blitzing toward Hurts. Hurts recognized the tactic, which left Stewart uncovered. Hurts quickly threw to Stewart who caught the pass and raced 71 yards untouched for a touchdown. The play marked the longest reception of Stewart's Alabama career and gave him a career-high 113 receiving yards in the game. Griffith's extra-point attempt was good, giving Alabama a 24-3 lead over USC with 13:43 remaining in the third quarter.

USC was forced to punt on the ensuing possession. From punt formation, USC punter Chris Tilbey dropped the snap and fell on the loose ball at the Trojan 13 with 12:47 left in the third period. Running back Bo Scarborough ran for a yard on first down, then Hurts kept around right end for eight yards on second down to the USC 4. A two-yard run by Scarborough gave the Tide a first down at the USC 2, but a false start penalty moved the ball back to the Trojan 7. On first down, Hurts kept on a zone read play and ran at left tackle for seven yards and the touchdown. Griffith's kick was good and Alabama led, 31-3, with 10:55 left in the third period.

The Tide built on the lead two possessions later, moving 85 yards in three plays to a touchdown. A 73-yard run by Harris to the USC 6 keyed the march that ended hurts Hurts running a quarterback sweep around right end for six yards and a touchdown. Griffith's conversion kick gave the Tide a 38-3 lead with 5:53 left in the third quarter. The Trojans responded with their best offensive push since the opening quarter, moving 56 yards in eight plays to a 41-yard field goal by Boermeester that made the score Alabama 38, USC 6, with 2:34 left in the third period.

Blake Barnett returned at quarterback late in the third quarter and led the Tide on another scoring drive. This march moved 65 yards in nine plays and was highlighted by a 40-yard pass from Barnett to tight end O.J. Howard to the USC 8 on the final play of the third quarter. Four plays later, Scarborough took a fourth-down rush two yards for a touchdown to give the Tide a 45-6 lead following Griffith's kick with 13:11 left in the game. On the Tide's next drive, Barnett moved Alabama 67 yards in four plays and capped the march with an impressive 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Gahrig Dieter with 9:25 left. Griffith's kick moved the Alabama lead to 52-6.

Alabama continues its season Saturday, September 10, with the 2016 home opener as the Crimson Tide hosts Western Kentucky (1-0). Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Central Time at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN2.



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