(5) Alabama - 34, (7) Virginia Tech - 24
- Rolltide.com
September 5, 2009

  Mark Ingram
ATLANTA, Ga. - What started as a defensive struggle opened up late in the game with No. 5 Alabama beating No. 7 Virginia Tech 34-24 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game held in the Georgia Dome Saturday night.

"Anyone that liked competition liked the game that was played tonight," UA head coach Nick Saban said.

The two teams traded the lead back and forth throughout the first half with Tech holding a one-point margin over the Tide, 17-16, heading into the locker rooms at half time. While Alabama was moving the ball offensively and stopping the Hokies defensively in the first half, Virginia Tech's special teams kept them in front in the first half.

"I would open every season with the Ckick-fil-A Kickoff game if I could," Saban said. "I love coming here to play. It is great for our fans and great for the U.S. to see two great teams play. I am especially proud of how the team played in the second half, especially the fourth quarter. Tonight is the first step in creating an identity for the team."

After a scoreless third quarter, Alabama built up a ten-point lead in the fourth only to have the Hokies cut it back to three before the Tide put the game away for good after scoring a touchdown with 6:35 minutes remaining to back up by 10 points.

Crimson Tide sophomore running back Mark Ingram ran for a career-best 150 yards, including a six-yard touchdown on the ground. The Flint, Mich. native also scored on an 18-yeard pass from junior quarterback Greg McElroy, who made his first start tonight. McElroy completed 15 passes, including a long of 48, on 30 attempts for 230 total yards, a touchdown and an interception. After starting off the game with just two completions on 12 attempts, McElroy went 13-of-18 the rest of the way.

"We made the adjustments we needed to make and we executed," Ingram said. "We didn't give up. McElroy kept his composure and focus throughout the whole game. I just go out and work hard and do whatever it takes to help my team. Everyone talks about our defense, but our offense can do it, too. We just want to prove that to people."

Senior kicker Leigh Tiffin made four of five field goal attempts, including a long of 49-yards on the Tide's first drive. He also scored three extra points. In addition to Ingram's TDs, senior Roy Upchurch burst into the end zone from 19 yards out for Alabama's first touchdown of the night.

Alabama dominated the stats sheet, rolling up 488-net yards to Virginia Tech's 154 as well as a 14-minute advantage in time of possession and 24 first downs to the Hokies' 12. Alabama's defense came away with five sacks. Five members of the Tide's defense posted five or more tackles on the night led by Eryk Anders' eight stops.

"In the second half we made adjustments," defensive lineman Terrence Cody said. "We settled down, got together and made plays. It just took that first half for us to get settled down."

The Tide opens it home slate Saturday against Florida International in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be shown on pay per view basis.

"We have 11 more games to play and the most important game is the one we play next week," Saban said. "We still have a lot of good teams to play."