Bama rolls, records 9th straight sea­son with at least 11 W’s

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By J.C. Car­na­han

Alabama de­fen­sive back Shy­heim Carter, left, cel­e­brates af­ter an in­ter­cep­tion against Michi­gan dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Cit­rus Bowl col­lege foot­ball game in Or­lando. MVP Jerry Jeudy led the Crim­son Tide past the Wolver­ines in a 35-16 vic­tory.

Alabama ended its sea­son with at least 11 wins for the ninth con­sec­u­tive year by blank­ing Michi­gan in the sec­ond half Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon in the Cit­rus Bowl.

Sopho­more quar­ter­back Mac Jones threw three touch­down passes to help No. 13 Alabama (11-2) pull away for a 35-16 win over No. 14 Michi­gan (9-4) in front of an an­nounced crowd of 59,746 at Or­lando’s Camp­ing World Sta­dium.

Jones, a Jack­sonville na­tive, fin­ished 16-of-25 pass­ing for 327 yards. Deer­field Beach na­tive Jerry Jeudy was named the game’s most valu­able player af­ter lead­ing all play­ers with six re­cep­tions for 204 yards and one touch­down.

“It took us a lit­tle while to get our sea legs un­der us,” Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban said. “I’m es­pe­cially proud of this team for the ad­ver­sity they had to over­come this year, the per­se­ver­ance they showed, and the grit they showed

to come out the way they did in the sec­ond half of this game.”

Alabama took the lead for good at 21-16 on the fourth play of the sec­ond half when Jones threw deep to DeVonta Smith, who made the catch while sep­a­rat­ing from a de­fender and turn­ing up­field to com­plete a 42-yard score.

Jones was mak­ing his fourth start of the sea­son in place of Tua Tago­v­ailoa, who was side­lined for the year with a right hip in­jury in Novem­ber.

“The bowl prac­tices helped a lot,” Jones said. “Even in Tuscaloosa, we got ex­tra work in and a whole month to pre­pare, so we were run­ning plays and ev­ery­one was ex­e­cut­ing them re­ally well.”

Jones later put the game out of reach on a 20-yard toss to Miller For­ristall with 10 min­utes to play. That scor­ing drive came af­ter Michi­gan was ham­pered by penal­ties on of­fense and QB Shea Pat­ter­son was sacked by Shane Lee.

The Crim­son Tide reg­is­tered three sacks as a team be­fore se­nior Shy­heim Carter in­ter­cepted a pass mid­way through the fourth quar­ter while nurs­ing a 28-16 ad­van­tage.

“We’ve been prac­tic­ing that play a lot over the last few weeks, so I kind of saw it com­ing,” Carter said of the in­ter­cep­tion. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go make that play.’ Big-time play­ers make big-time plays in big­time games.”

Lee led Alabama with eight tack­les. Fresh­man line­backer Chris­tian Har­ris and ju­nior de­fen­sive back Xavier McK­in­ney each fin­ished with seven tack­les.

Michi­gan went toe-to­toe with the Crim­son Tide in the first half while run­ning the ball well and scor­ing on four con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions to take a 16-14 lead into the break.

“They were hurt­ing us run­ning the ball mostly when they were in two tight ends and two re­ceivers,” Sa­ban said. “In the sec­ond half, we de­cided to play nickel, which gives us more mul­ti­ples of things that we can do. We’re a lit­tle smaller on the field when we do that, but it’s easier to ad­just and the play­ers did a re­ally good job of it and we were able to pres­sure more, which re­ally helped us stop the run.”

The Wolver­ines, who rushed for 162 yards in the loss, ended the sec­ond quar­ter with a 57-yard field goal by Quinn Nordin, which barely snuck over the up­right to set a Cit­rus Bowl record.

Tay­lor Mehlhaff booted a 52-yard field goal for Wis­con­sin in 2007.

Nordin also con­nected on field goal tries of 36 and 42 yards dur­ing a string of 13 unan­swered points in the first half that gave Michi­gan a 13-7 lead.

The Crim­son Tide re­sponded for a brief 14-13 lead on a 9-yard run by Na­jee Har­ris with un­der four min­utes to spare be­fore half­time. Har­ris scored for the sec­ond time on a short run with just 26 sec­onds to play and capped his day with 136 yards on 24 car­ries.

Har­ris’ first touch­down was an awak­en­ing of sorts for Alabama af­ter punt­ing on three pre­vi­ous drives.

The Tide ap­peared to be off and run­ning early on when they forced Michi­gan to go 3-and-out at mid­field, then con­nected on an 85-yard touch­down pass from Jones to Jeudy on their first play from scrim­mage.

The touch­down toss marks the sec­ond-long­est in Cit­rus Bowl his­tory. Georgia’s Aaron Mur­ray con­nected with Chris Con­ley for an 87-yard touch­down in the fourth quar­ter of a 45-31 win against Ne­braska in 2013.

“It was a very com­pet­i­tive game through the half, into the fourth quar­ter, un­til about six min­utes left in the game,” Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh said. “Their abil­ity to cre­ate the big play was crit­i­cal in the game [along with] their abil­ity to keep us out of the end zone. At the end, stop­ping us on the in­ter­cep­tion and then [driv­ing] the length of the field, that was a huge dif­fer­ence in the game.”



Alabama run­ning back Na­jee Har­ris fights for ex­tra yardage as Michi­gan de­fend­ers (from left) Dax­ton Hill, Jor­dan Glas­gow and Am­bry Thomas try to stop him dur­ing the sec­ond half at the Cit­rus Bowl Wed­nes­day at Camp­ing World Sta­dium.


Alabama run­ning back Na­jee Har­ris tries to elude the grasp of Michi­gan de­fen­sive back DeMar­cco Hel­lams on Wed­nes­day at the Cit­rus Bowl.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.