Alabama had only a 13-10 lead at halftime, but the Crimson Tide scored on its first three possessions of the second half and outscored Tennessee by 28-0 in the final two quarters.?
Alabama improved its record to 7-1, including a 4-1 Southeastern Conference record. Tennessee fell to 2-5 overall, 0-4 in conference games.
Alabama now has its open week. The Crimson Tide will have a bye Saturday, then travel to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers on November 6. LSU will also have an open date Saturday.
There was one positive record set for Alabama as Julio Jones had 221 yards receiving (on 12 receptions). That broke the single game yardage record of 211 held by David Palmer since the 1993 Vanderbilt game.
On the negative side, Tennessee tailback broke a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and finished with 117 rushing yards, ending a streak of 41 games in which Bama did not allow an opponent to rush for 100 or more yards. The steak went back to Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis breaking the century mark against the Tide in the 2007 Ole Miss game.
In addition to Jones, Marquis Maze had four receptions for 73 yards.
Greg McElroy completed 21-32 passes for 264 yards while back-up A.J. McCarron was 3-3 for 62 yards. Trent Richardson ran 12 times for 119 yards and had one rushing touchdown--a 65-yarder--to go with his one receiving touchdown. Mark Ingram scored two rushing touchdowns and had 14 carries for 88 yards.
C.J. Mosley had nine tackles and Demarcus Milliner seven tackles and a caused fumble. Robert Lester and B.J. Scott had pass interceptions.
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Things did not start well for Alabama at Neyland Stadium Saturday night.
There are times Alabama can look so good on defense and sometimes the Tide can look so poor. On Tennessee’s second possession, after a fine punt by Cody Mandell had started the Vols at their 13-yard line, Alabama defensive back Phelon Jones missed an interception opportunity that would have been a Tide touchdown. On a third and six, the Vols were given new life after a pass interference call against Dre Kirkpatrick. Then several tacklers missed Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms as he ran for nine yards.
On second and one from the Tennessee 41, Vols tailback Tauren Poole went over right guard and was untouched all the way to the end zone. It was the longest play against Alabama this year. Michael Palardy kicked the extra point and Tennessee had a 7-0 lead with 8:44 remaining in the first quarter. The 87-yard drive had taken just four plays and 1:43.
Alabama drove to the Tennessee red zone, but two incomplete passes (Greg McElroy had completed five straight passes in the drive before the misses) around a three-yard run by Mark Ingram forced a 36-yard field goal by Jeremy Shelley with 4:04 left in the first quarter. Bama had cut the Vols’ lead to 7-3.
Trent Richardson took over at tailback for Ingram on Bama’s final possession of the first quarter and Richardson interspersed nice runs of 13, 9, and 9 with McElroy completing passes to Earl Alexander for three yards and Julio Jones for 9 and 14 and the Tide started the second quarter with a second down and one yards to go for a first down at the Tennessee two.
Richardson got the first down at the one and then McElroy went in for the touchdown on a quarterback sneak. The nine-play, 59-yard drive took 3:25. Shelley extra point made it Alabama 10, Tennessee 7.
Alabama’s red zone offense found a new way to boot away points. A McElroy pass to Julio gained 43 yards to the Tennessee 11. After Richardson ran for three yards, McElroy had two incomplete passes as the Vols had excellent pressure. On fourth down, Shelley’s 25-yard field goal attempt hit the upright and bounced back, no good.
When Alabama next got the ball back, the Tide had lost 83 yards of field position following a 52-yard punt by Tennessee’s Chad Cunningham to the Bama 9.
Alabama and Tennessee traded field goals to finish out the quarter. Bama had to be disappointed in both.
The Tide was backed up to its eight-yard line and Mark Ingram broke free for a 42-yard run to midfield. McElroy completed a 14-yard pass to Jones and a 16-yard slip screen to Maze on a third down for a first down at the 24. But from there it was nothing and on fourth down Shelley kicked a 42-yard field goal for a 13-7 lead with only 52 seconds left in the half.
Alabama’s kickoff coverage team did a nice job of forcing the Vols to start at their 19, but the Bama defense wasn’t up to the task. A mix of Poole runs and Sims passes got the Vols to the Bama 15, where on the final play of the half Palardy was good on a 33-yard field goal. Alabama’s halftime lead was only 13-10.
It was a different Alabama offense that came out to start the second half. After a nice Richardson kickoff return to the 30, McElroy started things with a 38-yard pass on first down to Jones. After Ingram ran for 12 yards to the Tennessee 20, McElroy threw to Jones at the goalline. On the fourth play of the 70-yard drive, Ingram went over left guard for the touchdown. Bama had a 20-10 lead. It had taken just 1:32.
The Bama defense was bending, but didn’t break, forcing a 52-yard field goal attempt that didn’t come close. That gave Bama the ball at its 35. After McElroy failed to connect with Marquis Maze on a pass, he gave the ball to Trent Richardson.
Richardson went over left tackle, cut back to his right, and had an easy race to the end zone. The two-play, 65-yard drive took just 15 seconds. Shelley’s extra point kick with 8:26 remaining in the third quarter made it Alabama 27, Tennessee 10.
Sims completed a crucial third down pass to Luke Stocker for a first down at the Bama 49, then hit an uncovered for 26 yards to the Tide 23. When Poole ran for three yards, he had eclipsed the 100-yard mark. It was the first time Alabama had allowed an opponent to rush for over 100 yards in a game since 2007, a streak of 41 consecutive games.
More important, the Vols weren’t able to get a score. After driving to the Alabama 10, Tennessee lost a yard, missed a pass attempt, and then Sims had his pass picked off by Robert Lester at the three. Lester returned it to the Alabama 20.
The Tide took advantage of the opportunity. McElroy started the drive with an 11-yard pass to Maze (and a facemask moved the ball to the Alabama 46. After two incomplete passes, McElroy went to Maze on an inside screen that went for 36 yards and a first down at the Tennessee 18. From there, Ingram ran it five straight times for the touchdown. Shelley’s PAT made it Tide 34, Vols 10 with 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The 80-yard drive had taken nine plays and 3:45.
Bama closed out the scoring with a fourth quarter drive directed by back-up quarterback A.J. McCarron. TheTide went 80 yards in eight plays with McCarron passing five yards to Richardson for the touchdown. Cade Foster relieved Shelley as PAT man making it 41-10 with about half the quarter to play. The big play in the touchdown drive was McCarron hitting Jones for 47 yards, which gave the junior wide receiver the Crimson Tide record for yards receiving in a game at 221.
Although the Vols would draw to within a first-and-goal in the final seconds, Bama held.