Tago­v­ailoa, No. 1 Bama race away from Auburn

The State (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JOHN ZENOR

Tua Tago­v­ailoa threw five touch­down passes and ran for a score to lead No. 1 Alabama to a 52-21 vic­tory over ri­val Auburn on Satur­day.

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) 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 play­ing 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 – all ac­cu­rate strikes down­field.

The game was close un­til Tago­v­ailoa threw a pair of long TD passes in a three-minute 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 end zone.

Auburn had used cre­ative calls to keep it within three at 17-14 at half­time.

Wide re­ceiver An­thony Schwartz ran for a 9-yard touch­down and fel­low re­ceiver Ryan Davis took a lat­eral and launched a 23-yard touch­down pass to Ma­lik Miller.

That came with 4 min­utes left be­fore the half af­ter fresh­man Smoke Mon­day blocked a punt.

The Tigers also had Shaun Shivers’ 75-yard touch­down run called back thanks to a hold­ing penalty. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn drew an un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty for his protest of the call.

Auburn was stopped short on a fake field goal in the third quar­ter when backup quar­ter­back Ma­lik Wil­lis threw it to kicker An­ders Carl­son. The po­ten­tial three points briefly loomed larger af­ter Jar­rett Stid­ham’s 52-yard touch­down pass to Dar­ius Slay­ton made it 31-21.

It was a run­away from there.

THE TAKE­AWAY

Auburn: Kept it close into the sec­ond half in a game where few gave the Tigers much chance. Stid­ham was 13-of-30 pass­ing for 127 yards with a touch­down and an in­ter­cep­tion, in­clud­ing some drops, and faced heavy pres­sure.

Alabama: Strug­gled in the first half and dom­i­nated the sec­ond, just like against The Citadel. Avenged last sea­son’s 26-14 loss that shut the Tide out of the SEC cham­pi­onship game.

“I think the SEC is a very good league,” Sa­ban said.

“For the team to go un­de­feated is quite an ac­com­plish­ment but it doesn’t re­ally mean any­thing if we don’t take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity we have next week in the SEC cham­pi­onship game.”

BAMA SE­NIORS

Alabama’s se­niors tied the 2017 Tide class with an Ncaa-record 53rd win.

The last group left with five losses while the cur­rent se­niors are 53-3 with per­haps three games re­main­ing.

BUTCH DILL AP

Alabama quar­ter­back Tua Tago­v­ailoa es­capes pres­sure from Auburn de­fen­sive line­man Mar­lon David­son dur­ing the first half Satur­day in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.