McCarron, No. 1 Alabama top Western Kentucky, 35-0
Saturday, September 8, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — AJ McCarron passed for 219 yards and matched his career high with four touchdown passes to lead No. 1 Alabama to a 35-0 win over Western Kentucky on Saturday.
McCarron had two scoring tosses apiece to Christion Jones and Kevin Norwood in a performance that was more about big plays than consistent, muscle-flexing dominance for the top-ranked Crimson Tide (2-0). The Hilltoppers (1-1) were 40-point underdogs and the sandwich opponent between top 10 opponents Michigan and No. 8 Arkansas.
A running game that produced 232 yards against the Wolverines took a back seat to McCarron and the capitalistic defense. McCarron completed 14 of 19 passes and played all but the final series.
Norwood caught three passes for 92 yards.
Alabama forced four turnovers, three fumbles and a C.J. Mosley interception to keep Western Kentucky's offense from mounting any real scoring threats. .
Kawaun Jakes competed 20 of 31 passes for 178 yards for the Hilltoppers, who also played LSU last season.
Starting tailback Eddie Lacy had 36 yards on nine carries while freshman T.J. Yeldon ran six times for 25 yards. The much-heralded Yeldon, who gained 111 yards against the Wolverines, also had four catches for 47 yards.
The Hilltoppers had no answer when McCarron launched balls downfield. He connected on touchdowns of 14 and 22 yards to Jones, his first career scores.
The first came in the opening 1 minute, 53 seconds, the quickest touchdown Alabama has produced since reaching the end zone 1:19 into the game against Duke in 2010.
In between, McCarron hit Norwood in stride for a 33-yarder. Norwood scored again on a 12-yard catch in the third
The numbers weren't as lopsided as the final score thanks largely to the turnovers.
Alabama outgained Western Kentucky 328-224. The Tide ran for 103 yards, but limited the Hilltoppers to 28 rushes for 46 yards.
Western Kentucky actually had one more first down (12) than the Tide in the first three quarters.
Alabama's star-studded offensive line held a 45-pound-a-man advantage over Western Kentucky's defensive front. But the visitors from the Sun Belt Conference still sacked McCarron six times.
Quanterus Smith had three of the sacks.
The Tide played without two injured defensive stars, cornerback Dee Milliner (strained hip flexor) and nose guard Jesse Williams, who was held out as a precaution after waking up with a bad headache.
Alabama tacked on a touchdown in the final minutes with the help of some unexpected trickery.
Punter Cody Mandell ran for a first down to convert a fake on fourth-and-18 with less than four minutes to go, pushing the ball across midfield. McCarron had been sacked on the previous two plays.
Running back Jalston Fowler was helped off the field with a left knee injury. He was carted toward the locker room and will have an MRI on Sunday morning, coach Nick Saban said.
Quarterback/tailback Blake Sims replaced McCarron for the final series. Freshman tailback Kenyan Drake scampered 32 yards on his second career carry for the final score with 1:47 to play.