No. 1 Alabama’s de­fense shuts down No. 3 Florida State, 24-7

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - The Associated Press

AT­LANTA — The Alabama de­fense turned in a dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance, the Florida State spe­cial teams en­dured a ter­ri­ble night, and one of the most an­tic­i­pated open­ing games in col­lege foot­ball his­tory went to the topranked Crim­son Tide.

Damien Har­ris ran for a touch­down and blocked a punt, and Jalen Hurts chipped in with a scor­ing pass on a night that ba­si­cally re­quired the sopho­more quar­ter­back to make no ma­jor mis­takes, lead­ing Alabama to a 24-7 beat­down of No. 3 Florida State on Satur­day at At­lanta’s new $1.5 bil­lion Mercedes- Benz Sta­dium.

This one was all about that dy­namic Bama D.

And those not- to- spe­cial teams for the Semi­noles.

Alabama picked off a pair of passes by Deon­dre Fran­cois in the sec­ond half, snuff­ing out any hopes of a Florida State come­back.

Throw in a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and a fum­ble re­cov­ery on a kick­off re­turn, and there was re­ally no path to vic­tory for the Semi­noles in the first matchup ever be­tween two teams in the top three of The Associated Press pre­sea­son rank­ings.

The Tide led 10- 7 at half­time, catch­ing a huge break in the clos­ing sec­onds when the of­fi­cials didn’t call a pass in­ter­fer­ence penalty on Tony Brown while de­fend­ing Fran­cois’ pass into the end zone for Nyqwan Mur­ray.

Brown never looked for the ball on the play, run­ning into Mur­ray as he tried to go for a scor­ing catch that would’ve given the Semi­noles a lead. When Florida State at­tempted a 37-yard field goal on the next play, Minkah Fit z pa­trick leaped up to make the block on the fi­nal play of the half, pre­serv­ing the edge and prompt­ing a chorus of boos from the FSU faith­ful as the of­fi­cials trot­ted off the field.

Ap­pear­ing de­flated, Florida State never got any­thing go­ing over the fi­nal two quar­ters. Levi Wal­lace and Mack Wil­son both had in­ter­cep­tions, and Fran­cois’ night ended with him be­ing helped off the field — putting no weight on his left knee — after be­ing sacked from be­hind by blitz­ing safety Ron­nie Har­ri­son.

Fran­cois im­me­di­ately grabbed at his knee, and after be­ing treated for sev­eral min­utes on the turf, he wrapped his arms around a cou­ple of train­ers and hob­bled off the field.

It was a po­ten­tially crush­ing blow on a night that al­ready went back enough for the Semi­noles.

With the Tide still cling­ing to that three- point lead, the game was es­sen­tially de­cided by a sev­en­play se­quence to­ward the end of the third quar­ter. Backed up in his own ter­ri­tory, Lo­gan Tyler’s punt was smoth­ered by Har­ris, rac­ing in from the left side, and Dy­lan Moses fell on it at the Florida State 6.

The Semi­noles made an im­pres­sive stand, forc­ing Alabama to set­tle for Andy Pap­panas­tos’ 25yard field goal.

It was all for naught when, on the en­su­ing kick­off, Keith Gavin muffed the ball in the end zone, picked it up, ran into one of his own men, and then fum­bled on a hit by Moses. Keith Hol­combe recovered at the 11, and Har­ris ran up the mid­dle for a touch­down on the very next play, split­ting two wouldbe tack­lers at the 5.

Mike Ste­wart / The Associated Press

Alabama wide re­ceiver Calvin Ri­d­ley (left) scores on a 2-point con­ver­sion against Florida State dur­ing the first half.

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