(1) Alabama - 35, Western Kentucky - 0
September 8, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama defense forced four turnovers, including
two that led to ensuing touchdowns, as the top-ranked Crimson Tide (2-0)
cruised to a 35-0 victory over Western Kentucky (1-1) Saturday afternoon
at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama's offense overcame a Hilltoppers defense
that was stacked to stifle the Crimson Tide rushing game as quarterback
AJ McCarron threw four touchdown passes in an efficient performance.
AJ McCarron (10) looks for a receiver in he
second half of an NCAA college football game against Western Kentucky
at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012.
Photo Credit - Dave Martin/AP
Two of Alabama's scoring drives needed to cover just 33 and 12 yards after
the Tide defense forced WKU turnovers. While Western Kentucky limited the
Alabama offense to 103 rushing yards, the Crimson Tide defense produced
another dominant performance by holding the explosive Hilltoppers to 224
total yards while garnering Alabama's fourth shutout over the last two
seasons. McCarron passed for 219 yards to lead the Tide offense, completing
14 of 19 passes, including three for 92 yards to Kevin Norwood.
Norwood and Christion Jones became the first Alabama tandem since 1950 to
post at least two touchdown catches in the same game. Linebacker C.J.
Mosley led the Tide defense with 11 tackles, including one quarterback
sack, while linebackers Nico Johnson and Adrian Hubbard forced fumbles.
"They played us like I thought they would," said Alabama head coach Nick
Saban. "Run the ball, shrink the game, complete a lot of short passes, and
pressure like crazy on defense to try to give you negative plays. And every
time they gave us a negative play, we didn't overcome it very well. When we
executed properly, I thought we did a pretty good job, put some good drives
together and made some big plays, but that is something that we definitely
need to get corrected."
The game began with a fast start by Alabama as the Crimson Tide took the
opening kickoff and marched 72 yards in four plays to a touchdown on a
14-yard pass from McCarron to Jones with 13:07 left in the opening quarter.
Jeremy Shelley's conversion kick gave Alabama a 7-0 lead.
Alabama extended the lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter on a
33-yard pass from McCarron to Norwood, just one play after a hit by
linebacker Adrian Hubbard forced a WKU fumble that Brandon Ivory recovered
at the Hilltoppers' 33-yard line.
The Hilltoppers put together their most serious scoring threat of the game
in the second quarter, reaching the Tide 19. On a third down play from there,
WKU quarterback Kawaun Jakes was sacked for a loss of six yards by Xzavier
Dickson and fumbled. Alabama's Vinnie Sunseri recovered at the 25-yard line
and returned it seven yards to set up the Tide at the Alabama 32. From there,
Alabama mounted a 68-yard touchdown drive in seven plays. McCarron completed
all four of his passes for 62 yards in the drive that was capped by a 22-yard
strike to Jones for a 21-0 Alabama lead with 6:53 remaining in the second
Alabama started the second half by capitalizing on another turnover to
extend its lead. After taking the kickoff to start the second half, Tide
defensive back Deion Belue intercepted a Jakes pass at the WKU 40 and
returned it 15 yards to the Hilltoppers' 25-yard line. Belue was the
victim of a facemask on the return and that infraction moved the ball
to the WKU 12. After an incomplete pass, McCarron connected on a 12-yard
scoring pass to Norwood for a 28-0 lead with 13:15 left in the third quarter.
Alabama salted away the game with a dominant drive in the closing minutes
of the fourth period, moving 81 yards in 12 plays on a march that consumed
six minutes, 23 seconds of game time. The drive was kept alive by an 18-yard
run by punter Cody Mandell after he dropped the snap from center in punt
formation on fourth down to reach the WKU 45. Three plays later, Kenyon
Drake took a handoff and raced 32 yards around left end for the game's
final touchdown and a 35-0 margin for Alabama.