Tide routs Florida Atlantic, 40-7
It wasn’t a shutout, and it wasn’t the most exciting game that has taken place in Bryant-Denny Stadium over the years, but it was a win nonetheless. The Crimson Tide knocked off the Florida Atlantic Owls 40-7 on Saturday afternoon to improve to 4-0 on the season.
The Tide’s scoreless streak ended during a game that was widely dominated by the Alabama offense and defense. The Tide had not allowed any points since Michigan’s final touchdown in the season opener with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Alabama had scored 134 unanswered points before the Owls found the end zone from the 6-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, Alabama dominated a Florida Atlantic team that looked vastly outmatched at every position. Alabama amassed 25 first downs on the day, 256 rushing yards, 247 passing yards and a total of 503 yards of offense.
“I was really much more pleased with the way our team approached this game, with the way they actually played in the game,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We were focused and we really kind of practiced well all week, and you kind of challenge the players to not be normal.”
Alabama opened the day much like it opened its last home game against Western Kentucky — with a struggle. The Tide was backed up inside its own 20-yard line early in the game and looked jittery before quarterback AJ McCarron found Kenny Bell on a crossing route. Bell hauled in the pass, turned upfield, got around a defender and scampered into the end zone for the 85-yard touchdown.
“I feel like the 85-yard touchdown set the momentum for the offense. That’s when we started clicking from there,” Bell said.
The Crimson Tide stopped the Owls and used a 12-play, 63-yard drive to increase its lead to 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. McCarron found DeAndrew White in the back of the end zone from four yards out. White elevated, made the catch and got both of his feet inbounds before falling out of the end zone.
During the second quarter, some of the Tide’s red zone woes began to show itself. The Tide kicked three consecutive field goals to take a 23-0 lead. Cade Foster drilled a 52-yard field goal, his longest of the season. Shelley followed up Foster’s kick with two field goals from 26 and 30 yards, respectively.
“We certainly stalled out today. How many times did we kick field goals today? Was it four? In those kind of situations, we are happy to get the points,” Saban said. “And we are pleased that the field goal kickers are delivering for us, but at the same time we would like to finish some of those drives with a little better execution.”
The Tide pushed the ball down the field during the first half’s waning moments and scored its third touchdown of the day when McCarron found wide receiver Christion Jones for the score. The catch was Jones’ third touchdown reception of the season.
Alabama scored on its first six possessions of the game to take a 30-0 lead into halftime against the Owls.
The Tide slowed its scoring pace during the second half as the starters transitioned out of the game and a number of inexperienced players received playing time beginning midway through the third quarter.
Cade Foster continued his string of good kicks early in the third quarter when he drilled a 46-yard field goal to give the Tide a 33-0 lead. Foster, who struggled at times during the Tide’s 2011 season, has been a consistent force on special teams for the 2012 version of the Alabama offense.
“It’s just doing a lot of preparation, a lot of hard work in the offseason,” Foster said of his improvements on long-range field goals. “It’s just about improving every day and just keeping it going.”
Redshirt freshman Kenyan Drake scored the Tide’s final touchdown of the day on an eight-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The touchdown was his third score in three games. Drake finished with 5 rushes for 35 yards.
With the Tide on top 40-0, Florida Atlantic drove down the field against the Tide’s second-team defense. The youthful defense struggled to get off the field late in the game and found itself backed up, defending the Owls in the red zone. With the Tide’s shutout and scoreless streaks at stake, the crowd rose to its feet and roared louder than it had for much of the game. The cheers and screams from the Crimson Tide faithful were loud and noticed, but the Owls scored on a 6-yard reception by Graham Wilbert.
“I was much more pleased with the way we competed in the game today. Just the way we approached the game, the way we competed in the game, and we got to play a lot of players today. I think those things are going to benefit us down the road,” Saban said.
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