Tago­v­ailoa, No. 1 Alabama race away from Auburn

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By John Zenor

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tua Tago­v­ailoa came out of half­time fir­ing touch­down strikes down the field, and the re­sult was an­other run­away Alabama vic­tory.Tago­v­ailoa threw five touch­down passes, ran for a score and could scarcely miss in the sec­ond half to lead the topranked Crim­son Tide to a 52-21 vic­tory over ri­val Auburn on Satur­day.

“We ex­e­cuted on all cylin­ders on of­fense com­ing into that open­ing drive in the sec­ond half, so it's re­ally good,” he said.

Tago­v­ailoa and the Crim­son Tide (12-0, 8-0 South­east­ern Con­fer­ence, No. 1 CFP) took over with an ex­plo­sive third quar­ter when the Heis­man Tro­phy con­tender threw three long touch­down passes. He's the first Alabama player to have a hand in six TDs in a game and matched the school record with the five scor­ing passes. Now 'Bama heads to the SEC cham­pi­onship game against No. 5 Ge­or­gia with a guar­an­teed play­off spot on the line.

With Alabama lead­ing Auburn (7-5, 3-5) just 17-14 at half­time, Tago­v­ailoa launched the Tide into an­other SEC blowout. He was 11-of-12 pass­ing for 208 yards and four touch­downs in the sec­ond half, de­spite only finishing off one se­ries in the fourth quar­ter.

Tago­v­ailoa fin­ished 25 of 32 for 324 yards and ran for 26 yards, in­clud­ing a 7-yard touch­down and a 21-yard third-down con­ver­sion on runs.

“I thought Tua was into it,” Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said. “His lead­er­ship was re­ally im­por­tant for our of­fense. Don't ask me why but it doesn't seem like we had the right kind of en­ergy in the first half.”

The sec­ond-half numbers in­cluded touch­downs of 46 yards to Jerry Jeudy, 33 to Josh Ja­cobs, 40 to DeVonta Smith and 22 to Henry Ruggs III on an ac­ro­batic, leap­ing grab.

The game was close un­til Tago­v­ailoa threw a pair of long TD passes in a three­minute span of the third quar­ter. The first hit Jeudy down the left side­line and the sec­ond went to Ja­cobs, who shook off a few de­fend­ers on his way to the TD.

Ge­or­gia romps: Jake Fromm threw a ca­reer-best four touch­down passes, D'An­dre Swift ran for 105 yards and No. 5 Ge­or­gia romped into the SEC cham­pi­onship game with a 45-21 rout of the ACC's Ge­or­gia Tech on Satur­day. The host Bull­dogs (11-1, No. 5 CFP) couldn't af­ford a slip-up, not with a re­match against the top-ranked Crim­son Tide next week in At­lanta.

“I was hop­ing we'd have an­other chance to play them,” said line­backer D'An­dre Walker, quickly turn­ing his at­ten­tion to the team that de­feated Ge­or­gia in last sea­son's na­tional cham­pi­onship game. “I knew we had a good team to get back to this point and play them again. Now we've got to pre­pare like no other and take on the chal­lenge.”

The ri­valry game known as “Clean, Old-Fash­ioned Hate” was over by half­time. Ge­or­gia went to the locker room with a 38-7 lead — which, in an in­ter­est­ing twist, was the score of last year's dom­i­nat­ing vic­tory over the Yel­low Jack­ets. The Bull­dogs held a 343-66 edge in to­tal yards, pil­ing up 18 first downs to just four by Ge­or­gia Tech (7-5).

Vandy rolls: Kyle Shur­mur com­pleted his first 15 passes and fin­ished with 367 yards and three touch­downs as host Van­der­bilt (6-6, 3-5 SEC) routed in-state ri­val Ten­nessee 38-13 to be­come bowl el­i­gi­ble for the sec­ond time in three sea­sons. The Vols fin­ished 5-7, 2-6.

VASHA HUNT/AP

Alabama quar­ter­back Tua Tago­v­ailoa (13) jogs off the field af­ter Tago­v­ailoa threw five touch­down passes, ran for a score and could scarcely miss in the sec­ond half to lead the top-ranked Crim­son Tide to a 52-21 vic­tory over ri­val Auburn on Satur­day.

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