Bama earns sec­ond straight shutout win

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NFL BLITZ -

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s of­fense didn’t put up the video game-like num­bers that had seem­ingly be­come com­mon­place. The de­fense played so well — again — that it didn’t mat­ter.

The top-ranked Crim­son Tide de­liv­ered its sec­ond straight shutout in a 24-0 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence vic­tory over No. 18 Mis­sis­sippi State on Satur­day, when Josh Ja­cobs had a touch­down run and a touch­down catch.

With quar­ter­back Tua Tago­v­ailoa still bat­tling a right knee in­jury, the Tide (10-0, 7-0) turned to de­fense for an­other vin­tage per­for­mance.

“I think in this day and age, you not only get judged on whether you win but you get judged on how you win,” Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said. “I never thought I’d ever be in po­si­tion to say that you get style points, but the way our sys­tem is, that may be the way it is.”

The of­fense had al­ready banked plenty of style — and real — points along the way. Alabama raced to a fast start but mostly stalled from there against the Bull­dogs (6-4, 2-4), who en­tered with the na­tion’s No. 2 scor­ing de­fense.

Tago­v­ailoa started the fourth quar­ter on a sta­tion­ary bike af­ter get­ting his right knee checked out in the med­i­cal tent af­ter a low hit. He didn’t re­turn and wasn’t needed, mainly be­cause of a de­fense that was over­shad­owed by an of­fense that had led the na­tion in scor­ing much of the sea­son.

Sa­ban said Tago­v­ailoa could have re­turned if needed.

Fresh from a 29-0 vic­tory over No. 9 LSU, the Tide de­fense hasn’t al­lowed a point in nine­plus quar­ters. It’s the first time Alabama has had con­sec­u­tive shutouts since beat­ing Western Carolina and Auburn to end the 2012 reg­u­lar sea­son.

Alabama had five sacks and Mis­sis­sippi State had four in a rough day for both quar­ter­backs against two tal­ent-rich de­fen­sive lines.

Tago­v­ailoa was 14-of-21 for 164 yards with a touch­down and an in­ter­cep­tion. He also lost a fum­ble on a botched ex­change with Damien Har­ris. Backup Jalen Hurts missed his sec­ond straight game with an an­kle in­jury, and fresh­man Mac Jones fin­ished 3-for-6 pass­ing for mi­nus-1 yard.

Ja­cobs ran for 97 yards on 20 car­ries, scor­ing on a 1-yard run and a 14-yard catch.

› No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feleipe Franks si­lenced the home crowd twice af­ter touch­down runs, seem­ingly send­ing a mes­sage af­ter get­ting benched the week be­fore and booed ear­lier in the game, and the Ga­tors ral­lied to beat South Carolina and end a two-game los­ing streak.

Franks dived across the goal line on a fourth-down play from in­side the 1-yard line with 4:09 to play, put­ting the Ga­tors (7-3, 5-3) ahead for the first time and for good. Florida over­came a 17-point deficit in the sec­ond half.

C.J. Hen­der­son ended the Game­cocks’ come­back at­tempt by pick­ing off Jake Bent­ley, but Franks was the player of the game, even if he thrived in a vil­lain role. The sopho­more put his fin­gers to his lips while cel­e­brat­ing with team­mates, the kind of ges­ture usu­ally seen from vis­i­tors.

Franks com­pleted 15 of 21 passes for 161 yards and a touch­down. He also ran for two scores a week af­ter get­ting pulled for the third time in two sea­sons.

Ga­tors coach Dan Mullen opened up the quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion, but backup Kyle Trask broke a foot in prac­tice Wed­nes­day and is out for the sea­son. That left Franks as Mullen’s only vi­able op­tion, and fans ex­pressed their dis­plea­sure af­ter con­sec­u­tive plays on the first se­ries in which Franks fum­bled and badly over­threw a re­ceiver.

South Carolina (5-4, 4-4) scored touch­downs on its first two pos­ses­sions and looked like it would roll in the Swamp, but Franks and the Ga­tors woke up and ral­lied, pre­vent­ing for­mer coach Will Muschamp from get­ting a vic­tory in his sec­ond trip back to Florida Field since get­ting fired.

› Mis­souri 33, Van­der­bilt 28 COLUMBIA, Mo. — Mis­souri’s de­fense bent but didn’t break dur­ing Van­der­bilt’s fi­nal drive, and the Tigers beat the Com­modores to clinch bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity.

Mis­souri kicker Tucker McCann had a chance to ice the game with 1:48 re­main­ing, but the ju­nior missed a 31-yard field-goal at­tempt to give Van­der­bilt a last chance. The Com­modores drove down to Mis­souri’s 25-yard line but couldn’t con­vert a last-sec­ond heave to win the game.

In the end, the Tigers (6-4, 2-4) are go­ing bowl­ing, and the Com­modores (4-6, 1-5) will need to win both of their re­main­ing games to guar­an­tee a post­sea­son trip.

Van­der­bilt had led all game un­til Mis­souri run­ning backs Da­marea Crock­ett and Larry Roun­tree III fu­eled a 99-yard drive to start the fourth quar­ter. It started af­ter Van­der­bilt failed to con­vert a fourth-and-goal op­por­tu­nity from Mis­souri’s 1.

From there, the Tigers trekked down the field for a 14-play drive that lasted 5:38. Quar­ter­back Drew Lock trot­ted 3 yards into the end zone to give Mis­souri its first lead of the game, 33-28 with 9:18 re­main­ing. › Texas A&M 38,

Ole Miss 24

COL­LEGE STA­TION, Texas — Texas A&M quar­ter­back Kellen Mond threw three touch­down passes and ran for an­other score as the Ag­gies ended a twogame skid.

Mond threw touch­downs cov­er­ing 21, 10 and 5 yards, and his touch­down run was a 1-yard scam­per in the first quar­ter.

Af­ter be­ing outscored 28-0 in the fourth quar­ter of con­sec­u­tive losses to Auburn and Mis­sis­sippi State, Texas A&M (6-4, 4-3) scored its first fourth-quar­ter points since Oct. 13 when Seth Smalls made it 24-21 with a 46-yard field goal early in the pe­riod.

The Ag­gies pushed their lead to 10 points when Mond found Quar­t­ney Davis on a 5-yard touch­down pass with 4:36 to play.

Ole Miss (5-5, 1-5) got within a touch­down when Lo­gan made a 24-yard field goal with 1:51 re­main­ing. An on­side kick was called by Ole Miss af­ter that, but the Ag­gies re­cov­ered it and Wil­liams ran 46 yards for a touch­down on the next play to put the game out of reach.

Jor­dan Ta’amu threw for 373 yards and a touch­down for the Rebels, who lost their third straight. “This was a very sig­nif­i­cant win. We were play­ing for a lot more than what they were play­ing for, so we didn’t want them to mess up our fu­ture.”

Odds and ends

AP PHOTO/BUTCH DILL

Alabama run­ning back Josh Ja­cobs (8) car­ries the ball dur­ing the sec­ond half Satur­day against Mis­sis­sippi State in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama won 24-0, and Ja­cobs scored two touch­downs.

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