TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WCBI Sports/Alabama Athletics) - Top-ranked Alabama (11-0 overall) was dominant from start to finish in a methodical 49-0 victory over Chattanooga (8-3 overall) Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 100,179 on Senior Day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. With the victory, Alabama has won 11 games or more in 17 different seasons, including three consecutive and five of the last six.
The Crimson Tide now sets its sights on a showdown with Southeastern Conference rival Auburn next Saturday with the SEC Western Division title and a berth in the SEC Championship Game on the line.
Quarterback AJ McCarron completed 13 of 16 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception, connecting four times for 84 yards and one touchdown to wide receiver Kevin Norwood. With starting running back T.J. Yeldon sidelined, Kenyan Drake rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Freshman running back Derrick Henry ran for 66 yards on six carries, scoring one touchdown.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the Tide with seven tackles (four solos), including two for losses. Tide safety Landon Collins also had seven stops and linebacker Trey Depriest had five tackles and an interception. The Alabama defense held the Mocs to 175 total yards (93 rushing, 82 passing) while the Tide offense posted 435 total yards (251 rushing, 184 passing). The Tide special teams also had a notable day, returning a punt for a touchdown and blocking a Chattanooga field goal.
Chattanooga won the coin toss and chose to receive the opening kickoff. The Alabama defense forced a Mocs punt after three plays, a 34-yard bouncer that the Tide’s Christion Jones failed to handle at the Alabama 34-yard line. Chattanooga’s Sema’je Kendall recovered the fumble to set up the Mocs in Alabama territory with 12:39 left in the first quarter. The Tide defense stiffened, allowing only a three-yard pass completion and a run for five yards before stuffing a reverse run for a three-yard loss. That set up a fourth down play, a pass by Terrell Robinson was intercepted by Tide linebacker Trey Depriest at the Tide 17 with 10:48 left.
Alabama took the turnover and marched 83 yards in five plays to a touchdown. A 50-yard pass from McCarron to Kevin Norwood on third-and-nine at the Tide 18 keyed the march, a crossing pattern that Norwood took on a short pass to the Chattanooga 32. A 15-yard face mask penalty on Chattanooga added to the play, setting up the Tide at the Mocs 17. From there, Kenyan Drake reached the end zone in two plays, the first a four-yard run, the second a 13-yard run around right end for the score. Cade Foster’s point-after kick gave Alabama a 7-0 lead with 8:57 left in the first quarter.
After another Alabama drive was stopped on a fourth down attempt in Chattanooga territory, the Tide took its next possession 80 yards in seven plays to a touchdown early in the second quarter. Drake carried three times for 38 yards, opening the march with a 19-yard run before Derrick Henry came in to give Drake a breather. Henry ran for 27 over right end to the Mocs’ five-yard line before taking a handoff for a five-yard scoring run with 12:31 left in the second quarter. Foster’s conversion kick gave Alabama a 14-0 lead.
The Alabama defense forced another punt after three Chattanooga plays. Nick Pollard’s 45-yard punt was taken by Christion Jones at the Tide 25 and he followed good blocking up the middle and to the right on a 75-yard touchdown return to give the Tide a 21-0 lead with 9:57 remaining in the second quarter.
The Mocs constructed a drive that reached the Tide 31 midway through the second quarter, but that march ended with a 48-yard field goal attempt by Nick Pollard that was blocked by Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson. The blocked kick rolled to the Chattanooga 42 where the Tide offense took possession. After a four-yard run by Henry, an incomplete pass, and a three-yard run by Drake, Alabama faced fourth down needing three yards for a first down at the Mocs’ 35. McCarron converted the first down on a short pass to Amari Cooper near the sideline, gaining seven to the Chattanooga 28. On the next play, McCarron’s deep post pattern pass to Norwood was completed for a 28-yard touchdown play. Foster’s kick was good and the Crimson Tide had a 28-0 lead over the Mocs with 2:18 remaining in the second quarter.
Alabama took the second half kickoff and moved 63 yards in seven plays to a touchdown. The drive started with an 11-yard pass from McCarron to Kenny Bell. Drake gained eight yards on a rush up the middle. McCarron passed to Christion Jones for nine yards to the Chattanooga 34-yard line. After a personal foul on Alabama moved the Tide back to the Mocs’ 49, McCarron passed to tight end Corey McCarron for three yards, Drake rushed for six yards over left tackle, then Drake gained two more on a run over right tackle. McCarron then passed to Cooper on a post pattern for 38 yards and a touchdown with 11:19 left in the third quarter. Foster’s kick gave the Tide a 35-0 lead.
Reserve quarterback Blake Sims entered the game for the Tide on the next series following another Chattanooga punt. Sims and the offense marched 63 yards in six plays to another touchdown. Henry started the drive with a seven-yard run over left tackle to the Tide 44. After a two-yard pass from Sims to Bell, Henry gained five yards over right guard. After an incomplete pass, Henry took a handoff up the middle for 18 yards and a first down at the Chattanooga 31. On the next play, Chris Black took a handoff at right end and avoided three tacklers, spinning out of a final tackler at the five-yard line on a 31-yard scoring run with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
With 5:12 left in the game, the Alabama defense created another scoring opportunity. A pass to C.J. Board went for three yards, but Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen forced a fumble that was picked up by Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson who returned the fumble 35 yards to the Chattanooga six-yard line. Reserve running back Dee Hart scored on the next play, taking a handoff up the middle for a six-yard scoring run. Adam Griffith kicked the extra point and the Tide had a 49-0 lead with 5:07 on the clock in the fourth quarter.