Sunday, September 7, 2014

No. 2 Alabama Football Beats Florida Atlantic, 41-0, in Home Opener

Receiver Amari Cooper tied an Alabama single-game record for catches and a pair of Crimson Tide quarterbacks threw for more than 200 yards while the Alabama defense posted its 10th shutout over the last 40 games in a weather-shortened 41-0 rout of Florida Atlantic Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 100, 306 at Bryant-Denny Stadium (capacity: 101,821). After game officials halted the game at 1:48 p.m. Central Time due to lightning in the area, the game was officially ended by mutual agreement with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter.

Cooper had 11 catches in the first half, ending the game with 13 catches for a career-best 189 yards and 1 touchdown. The yardage is the fourth-most in Alabama history while Cooper tied DJ Hall's record for receptions set against Tennessee in 2007. The performance also moved Cooper into fourth on the Alabama career receiving yards list with 2,055, just 15 yards behind former tight end Ozzie Newsome, who had 2,070 receiving yards from 1974-77.

Quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jake Coker both surpassed the 200-yard mark in passing yardage - the first time in Crimson Tide history that two passers accomplished that feat in the same game - while the Tide compiled the second-highest passing yardage total in school history with 416 yards. The Alabama single-game passing yards mark is 484 set against Auburn in 1969.

Sims completed 11 of 13 attempts for 214 yards and two touchdown passes without an interception. Coker completed 15 of 24 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown without an interception. Alabama rushed for 204 yards with eight players getting rushing attempts led by Kenyan Drake's 45 yards on seven carries and one touchdown. T.J. Yeldon rushed for 43 yards on seven carries.

Defensively, the Tide was led in tackles by linebacker Reggie Ragland with eight, including a quarterback sack and 1.5 tackles for loss, and cornerback Eddie Jackson had seven tackles and a forced fumble. The Tide defense had three quarterback sacks, six tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles.

As a team, the Crimson Tide gained 620 yards of total offense (416 rushing, 204 passing), notched 27 first downs and averaged 8.9 yards per play (620 yards on 70 plays). FAU was limited to 145 total yards (88 passing, 57 rushing), averaging 3.4 yards per play. Alabama did not punt in the game, but kicker Adam Griffith moved to a perfect 6-for-6 on the season in field goals, making two on Saturday from 22 and 28 yards. Cyrus Jones had a 70-yard punt return.

GAME SUMMARY

Alabama won the coin toss and chose to receive the opening kickoff while FAU chose to defend the north end zone.
FIRST QUARTER

Christion Jones took the opening kickoff to the Tide 26 to set up the Alabama offense. On the game's first offensive play, Cooper took a reverse around right end for a 20-yard gain before stepping out of bounds along the FAU sideline at the Tide 46. On the next play, Yeldon carried at left guard for 5 yards to the FAU 49. The Tide gained a new set of downs on the next play when Sims hit on a quick pass to receiver Chris Black for 19 yards to the FAU 30. Then Sims threw complete to Cooper on a slant pattern for 18 yards and a first down at the FAU 12. Yeldon carried for two to the FAU 10.
A quick out pass to Cooper was complete for a three-yard gain to set up third-and-five at the FAU 7.

From the shotgun, Sims looked to pass but decided to tuck the ball and ran up through a clearing in the middle of the field for a seven-yard touchdown run. Adam Griffith's conversion kick was good and Alabama had seized the early advantage, 7-0, with 12:31 left in the first quarter.

Starting their first offensive possession at their own 21 following the kickoff, FAU moved 30 yards to the Tide 49 in four plays on its next possession before punting. Ryan Rickel's 23-yard punt was downed at the Alabama 26 and the Tide took over with 9:40 on the clock.

Sims engineered a 74-yard touchdown drive in only 3 plays consuming 1:20 on the clock. On first down, Kenyan Drake carried at right end for 14 to the UA 40 and a first down. On the next play, Sims passed to Cooper for 8 yards to the UA 48 and Cooper was forced out of bounds. Sims then tossed a screen pass to Cooper along the FAU sideline and Cooper turned it into a 52-yard touchdown play. Griffith kicked true and Alabama had a 14-0 lead with 8:20 showing on the clock in the opening period.

FAU was forced to punt on its next possession and Alabama took over at its own 22 after Dalton Schomp's 42-yard punt went out of bounds with 5:23 left in the first quarter. After an incomplete pass and a 5-yard run by Derrick Henry, Alabama faced third-and 5 from its own 27. Sims and Cooper connected again, this time on a slant across the middle of the FAU defense, for a first down and a 10-yard gain to the Tide 37. Sims and Cooper connected again on the next play for 6 yards to the Tide 43 and, on second-and-4, Henry carried over right guard for 4 yards and a first down at the Tide 47. On first down, Henry rushed up the middle for 5 yards to the FAU 48, then Sims rolled to his right and showed his athleticism by faking a defender to the ground on a 9-yard gain to a first down at the FAU 39. On the next play, Sims passed to Drake on a screen pass to the left side and Drake avoided two tacklers while racing down the Alabama sideline for a 39-yard touchdown. Griffith's kick gave the Tide a 21-0 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter, capping an eight-play, 78-yard drive that consumed 3:35 of game time.

FAU's Lucky Whitehead returned the ensuing kickoff 26 yards for FAU and the Owls started at their own 26. On the first play, Greg Hankerson passed complete to Kamrin Solomon along the right side for 16 yards but Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson forced Solomon to fumble and linebacker Denzel Devall recovered for the Tide at the FAU 42 with 1:34 left in the first period.

Jake Coker entered the game at quarterback for Alabama. Two carries by Henry started the Alabama drive, as he gained 6 and 3 yards to the FAU 33. Yeldon then carried for 6 yards and a first down at the FAU 27 as the first quarter came to an end. Through the first period, Alabama had racked up 241 total yards (155 passing, 86 rushing) and had scored on all three of its offensive possessions. Sims completed 8-of-9 passes for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cooper had 6 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.

SECOND QUARTER

On first down at the FAU 27, Coker kept around right end for 5 yards to the FAU 22. Drake took a handoff at right guard for 11 yards and a first down at the FAU 11. Coker tossed a screen to Cooper at the left side, but FAU's Raekwan Williams dropped Cooper for no gain at the 11. Coker and Cooper connected again on the next play, this time to the right side for a 6-yard gain to the FAU 5. On third-and-4 from the FAU 5, Coker passed to Cooper in the end zone along the right side but the pass was incomplete. With 12:37 left, Griffith entered to kick a 22-yard field goal. The kick was good and Alabama had a 24-0 lead with 12:31 left in the second quarter.
FAU was forced to punt again after three plays and Alabama took possession at its own 13-yard line with 10:15 left in the second quarter after a Schomp's 56-yard punt and an illegal block penalty on the Tide. Coker then led the Tide on a 12-play, 87-yard touchdown drive that took 3:52 off the clock. Yeldon had a 14-yard run on the second play of the drive and followed that up with an 8-yard carry to the Tide 35. Coker passed to receiver ArDarius Stewart for 14 yards and a first down at the Tide 49. On third-and-10 from there, Coker and Yeldon connected on a screen pass that Yeldon turned into an 18-yard gain to a first down at the FAU 33. Facing another third-and-10 at the FAU 33, Coker and Chris Black connected on a crossing pattern for 15 yards to the FAU 18. Coker then kept around right end for 15 yards, pushing tacklers to the FAU 3. From there, Coker hit fullback Jalston Fowler on a short pass in the right flat for a 3-yard touchdown play with 6:23 left in the second period. Griffith's conversion kick gave the Tide a 31-0 lead.

The Owls put together their best offensive possession of the game to this point, moving 25 yards in 11 plays in 5:29 but the drive was stifled when Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson sacked FAU quarterback Greg Hankerson for a 15-yard loss on a third-and-12 play from the Tide 40. That forced another FAU punt by Schomp, whose 38-yarder was taken by Christion Jones at the Tide 17 and he took it back 5 yards to set up the Alabama offense at its own 22 with 54 seconds left in the first half.

Coker passed to Cooper for 10 yards on first down to the Tide 32. Yeldon rushed for 2 yards over right guard and the Tide called timeout with 38 seconds left. Coker, continuing to find his rhythm in his first extended live game action of the season, passed deep to Cooper down the left sideline and Cooper pulled it in for a 43-yard gain to the FAU 23, going out of bounds with 30 seconds left in the half. It was Cooper's 10th catch of the game and he had 156 yards receiving before the half. From the FAU 23, Coker and Christion Jones connected across the middle of the field for a 12-yard gain for a first down at the FAU 12. After an incompletion, Coker decided to run after he saw a clearing on the left side of the field, gaining 8 yards before being forced out of bounds with seven seconds on the clock. On third-and-2 at the FAU 4, Coker rolled to his right but he could not find an open receiver and was sacked for a 5-yard loss at the FAU 9 as time expired with Alabama leading FAU, 31-0.

Cooper's 10 catches for 156 yards highlighted the first half for Alabama as the Tide racked up 419 yards (275 passing, 144 rushing) with 20 first downs. Alabama outgained FAU by a 419-76 margin. For the 12th time in the last 19 games, the Alabama defense had a shutout on the scoreboard at halftime.

THIRD QUARTER

Alabama kicked off to start the second half and FAU's Martese Jackson returned the kickoff to the FAU 20 where the Tide's Nick Perry brought him down. The Tide defense forced another three-and-out by the Owls and Schomp booted a 44-yard punt that Christion Jones fielded at the Tide 32, returning it 2 yards to set up Alabama at its 34 with 12:46 on the clock.
With Sims back at quarterback, the Tide moved 63 yards in 6 plays to the FAU 3, but the drive was for naught. The march was keyed by a 41-yard pass from Sims to Christion Jones that moved the Tide to the 25. After a 6-yard run by Yeldon and an 11-yard pass from Sims to Chris Black moved the ball to the FAU 8, Sims and Cooper connected for the 11th time in the game. The 7-yard completion carried to the FAU 1. On the next play, Sims tried to handoff to Yeldon, who obviously was not expecting the handoff, and the ball fell to the ground. FAU defensive end Robinson Eugene recovered the fumble and the Owls took possession at their own 3-yard line.

From there, FAU mounted a 68-yard drive in 10 plays. A 31-yard run up the middle by running back Jay Warren moved the Owls to their 36. Hankerson passed to x-back Jenson Stoshak for 16 yards to a first down at the Tide 48. Whitehead rushed for 5 yards, then Whitehead caught a screen pass for 5 more yards to the Tide 38. The drive ended at the Tide 29 on an incomplete pass with 6:31 left in the third quarter.

Coker returned as quarterback for the Tide and led the team on a 71-yard scoring drive in eight plays that consumed 4:12 of the clock. After an illegal block forced a first-and-23 situation at the Tide 16, Coker and Cooper connected for 20 yards to the Tide 36. On the next play, they connected again, a 6-yard pass play that was Cooper's 13th catch of the game (for 189 yards). The catch moved Cooper within 15 yards of third place on the Tide career receiving yards list with 2,055 (Ozzie Newsome was ahead of him in third place with 2,070 from 1974-77) and tied the Alabama single-game receptions mark set by DJ Hall against Tennessee in 2007. After two rushes by Drake gained 7 yards to set up a third-and-3 situation at the Tide 49, Coker found ArDarius Stewart deep down the right side for 40 yards to the FAU 11. Drake carried around right end for 8 yards to the FAU 3. On the next play, Drake took a handoff off left tackle for 3 yards and a touchdown. Griffith's kick was good and Alabama had a 38-0 lead with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

Griffith's kick sailed out of the end zone and FAU started the next possession at its 25. Offensive pass interference on first down pushed FAU back to its 13. From there, the Owls went three-and-out and Schomp punted to the Tide 47 where Cyrus Jones called for a fair catch with 1:04 left in the third quarter.

Coker was back in at quarterback for Alabama. From the shotgun on first down, Coker handed off to running back Tyren Jones over left tackle who then took the ball for 20 yards to the FAU 32. Jones then rushed for 8 more yards to the FAU 24 to set up second-and-2. The third quarter ended there. Through three quarters, Alabama had outgained FAU by a 596 to 152 margin. Alabama had 400 passing yards through three quarters.

FOURTH QUARTER

The fourth quarter began with rainfall and a second-and-2 play from the FAU 24. Coker threw across the middle but the pass was incomplete in the end zone. Tyren Jones was dropped for a loss of 2 on a rush to the left side by FAU's Cre'von LeBlanc. Coker passed to ArDarius Stewart for 9 yards to a first down at the FAU 17. A false start penalty moved the Tide back 5 yards to the FAU 22 and created a first-and-15 situation. Tyren Jones rushed over right guard for 7 yards to the FAU 15. Coker passed complete to tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith for 4 yards to the FAU 11 before an incompletion on third down forced a 28-yard field goal attempt by Griffith. The kick was good and Griffith moved to 6-for-6 on field goals in 2014, giving Alabama a 41-0 lead with 12:02 left in the game.
FAU started at its 22 after the kickoff. Tide linebacker Rashaan Evans ended the possession with a sack of Hankerson for a 10-yard loss on third down to force a punt from the FAU 20. Schomp nailed a 60-yard punt, but he outkicked his coverage and Cyrus Jones meandered through the Owls on a 70-yard return to the FAU 10 where Schomp forced him out of bounds. A screen pass from Coker to wide receiver Robert Foster gained 3 yards to the FAU 7. Running back Altee Tenpenny took a handoff over left guard for 4 yards to the FAU 3. FAU called timeout with 8:18 on the clock. Tenpenny was stopped for a loss of 1 yard on third-and-3, setting up a fourth-and-goal at the FAU 4. At that point (1:48 p.m. Central Time). The officials declared a weather delay due to lightning in the area.

At 2:04 p.m. CT, the game was officially ended by mutual agreement, and Alabama had its 74th triumph in 87 home openers and its 13th consecutive home debut victory with a 41-0 decision.

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