Sunday, September 14, 2014

No. 3/2 Alabama Football Beats Southern Mississippi, 52-12

University of Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper tied a school record with his fifth-consecutive 100-yard receiving performance as he caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown as the Crimson Tide pounded the Golden Eagles, 52-12, before a sellout crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Cooper was the prime target of Tide quarterback Blake Sims who completed 12 of 17 passes for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown.

The Alabama offense eclipsed the 500-yard mark for the fourth consecutive game, racking up 547 total yards (333 rushing, 214 passing) as the Crimson Tide overcame an early 3-0 deficit to wear Southern Mississippi down. Kenyan Drake scored three touchdowns on the ground for Alabama, which saw 8 players carry the ball led by Derrick Henry's 73 yards on 11 carries. Drake finished with 59 yards on 9 attempts and Tyren Jones added 57 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. T.J. Yeldon gained 56 yards on 9 rushes for the Tide.

Cooper also moved up the Tide career receiving yards chart during the game, moving into third place. After Saturday night's performance Cooper has 2,190 receiving yards in his Alabama career, surpassing Ozzie Newsome (2,070 from 1974-77). Cooper's yardage marked his fifth consecutive game to eclipse 100 receiving yards, tying the school record originally set by DJ Hall during the 2006 season.

Southern Miss won the opening coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Alabama chose to defend the south goal.

The Eagles constructed a scoring threat on their first possession and cashed it in for an early lead. Emanuel Johnson returned the kickoff 25 yards to set up the Eagles at the USM 25. On the first play, Nick Mullens passed to Markese Triplett on a crossing pattern for 15 yards and a first down at the USM 40. Two plays later, Mullens connected with Michael Thomas along the left sideline for an 18-yard gain to the Tide 42. Three plays later on a third-and-11, Mullens and halfback Casey Martin connected for 24 yards along the USM sideline for a first down at the Tide 19. The march stalled at the Tide 16 and Corey Acosta entered to kick a 33-yard field goal. The kick was good and USM had a 3-0 lead with 11:35 left in the first quarter after a 59-yard drive in 10 plays that consumed 3:25 of the clock.

Christion Jones took the ensuing kickoff in the end zone and returned it to the Tide 30. The Tide offense embarked on a 70-yard, seven-play touchdown drive. On a third-and-2 at the Tide 38, Sims connected with receiver Amari Cooper for 17 yards and a first down at the USM 45. The play moved Cooper past Ozzie Newsome (2,070 yards from 1974-77) into third place on the Alabama career receiving yards list with 2,072.

T.J. Yeldon took a handoff over right end for 15 yards to the USM 30 on the next play. Yeldon raced for 13 more to the USM 17. An incompletion and a penalty created first-and-15 at the USM 22. Sims and Cooper connected again, this time with Cooper taking a short pass, eluding defenders and reaching the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown play. The scoring catch was the 17th of Cooper's career, moving him into second place in Alabama history ahead of DJ Hall (16 from 2004-07). Adam Griffith's point-after kick was good and the Tide moved ahead, 7-3, with 7:42 left in the first quarter.

Emmanuel Johnson returned the kickoff to the USM 15. Two keepers by Mullens gained seven yards before an 11-yard completion to Triplett on a third-and-3 play was erased by a face-mask personal foul that moved the Eagles back to their 13. An incompletion forced a punt. Tyler Sarrazin booted a 51-yard punt that Christion Jones fielded for the Tide at the Alabama 36. Jones returned it 14 yards to set up the Tide offense at the 50 with 5:22 left in the first quarter.

On the first play, Sims passed deep to Cooper, but USM cornerback Kalan Reed broke up the pass at the goal line. On second down, Yeldon took a handoff around right end for eight yards to the USM 42. On third-and-2, Derrick Henry was downed for a 1-yard loss by USM defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches and the Tide was forced to punt from the USM 43. JK Scott's 33-yard punt was fair caught by USM's Casey Martin at the Eagles' 10-yard line with 3:36 on the clock.

On first down, Mullens passed deep along the left sideline and receiver D.J. Thompson made an acrobatic catch barely inbounds for a 36-yard gain to the USM 46. The Eagles stalled at the USM 48 and were forced to punt. Sarrazin's 52-yard punt sailed into the end zone and Alabama took over at its 20 with 1:39 left in the first period.

From the shotgun formation, Sims flipped a forward pass lateral to Cooper on a reverse. Cooper ran to the left sideline near the Tide bench, avoided three tacklers and reversed field. As he crossed back to the other side of the field, he outmaneuvered three more defenders and received crushing blocks by three Tide teammates, eventually gaining 13 yards for a first down at the Tide 33. Derrick Henry carried for three yards on first down and six more on second down. The quarter ended with the Tide facing a third-and-1 from the Alabama 42-yard line and holding a 7-3 lead.

Through the first quarter the teams were even in total yardage at 104-104 with the Tide having 52 yards rushing and 52 yards via the pass. The Eagles had 97 passing yards and seven rushing yards. USM had a 7:42 to 7:18 edge in time of possession.

The quarter opened with the Tide still in the shotgun formation. Yeldon took a handoff at left tackle for eight yards and a first down at the 50. Henry entered the game and rushed up the middle for five yards to set up second down and 5 at the USM 45. Sims passed to Cooper on a crossing pattern for 10 yards and a first down at the USM 35. Sims went back under center and handed off to Henry for one yard to the USM 34. Yeldon was stopped for a yard loss by defensive back Jacorius Cotton to set up third-and-10 from the 35. On a passing play Sims scrambled after failing to find an open receiver and he improvised a run for 20 yards to the left side, gaining a first down at the USM 15. A pass to Cooper was incomplete on first down. On second down, Kenyan Drake took a handoff at left end for 2 yards to set up third-and-8 at the USM 13. From the shotgun, Sims passed to Christion Jones on a slant on the right side for 10 yards and a first-and-goal at the USM 3. Sims audibled as the play clock was winding down, taking the snap at the final second from the shotgun. He rolled right, tucked the ball and raced to the pylon, beating a defender to the end zone for a three-yard touchdown run. Griffith's kick was good and the Tide had a 14-3 lead with 9:32 left in the second quarter.

Michael Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff 11 yards to the USM 15, but an illegal block moved the ball to the USM 8 where the Eagles began the next possession. After an incomplete pass on first down, Mullens was flushed from the passing pocket and ran for eight yards to set up third-and-2 at the USM 16. On third down from the shotgun, Mullens passed to Triplett on a screen pass, but Triplett dropped the pass and the Eagles were forced to punt. Sarrazin's punt was high and short, bouncing from the USM 43 to the Eagle 38 where Alabama took possession with 8:25 on the clock.

Sims lined up in the shotgun and fired a lateral to his left to Cooper, who gained nine yards on what was officially a running play. On second-and-1 from the USM 29, Sims passed to Cooper on the right side and Cooper took it for a 10-yard gain and a first down at the USM 19. Drake entered at running back and took a handoff for four yards to the USM 15. On second-and-6, Sims passed across the middle to Christion Jones for six yards and a first down at the USM 9. Sims, in the shotgun again, faked a handoff to Drake and rolled to his right looking for a receiver, but tucked the ball in and ran for eight yards to the USM 1. On the next play, Sims handed off to Drake who muscled in to the end zone for a touchdown. The six-play, 38-yard drive took 2:49 to complete and Griffith's conversion kick gave Alabama a 21-3 lead with 5:36 left in the second quarter.

A sack by Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson for an eight-yard loss on third down forced a USM punt from their 23. Sarrazin's was not fielded and bounced free at the Tide 43, but the ball was touched by Alabama's Tyren Jones as he was blocking a USM player. Justin Penn recovered the loose ball for the Eagles at the Tide 29 and the Eagles set up there with 2:50 left in the half. A deep pass was incomplete on first down around the Tide 10 where Landon Collins was defending for Alabama. On second down, a screen pass from Mullens to receiver James Cox was stopped by Collins for no gain forcing a third-and-10 situation at the Tide 29. From the shotgun, Mullens and running back Ito Smith connected on a short pass in the middle that Tide defensive back Geno Smith stopped for a three-yard gain at the Tide 26. That set up a 43-yard field goal attempt by Acosta. Alabama called timeout prior to the snap. When play resumed with Acosta kicking from the center of the field, Acosta's 43-yarder was straight and true, narrowing the Alabama lead to 21-6 with 1:25 left in the second quarter.

Christion Jones fielded the ensuing kickoff at the goal line and returned it 20 yards before slipping down at the Tide 20 with 1:20 on the clock. From the shotgun, Sims passed incomplete on first down. On second down, a handoff to Yeldon up the middle gained 5 yards. A handoff to Yeldon at left end failed to gain as the half ended with Alabama leading Southern Miss, 21-6.

At halftime, Alabama held a 205-108 advantage in total offense with the Tide leading the rushing comparison 118-5 while USM held a 103-87 edge in passing yardage. Alabama had an 11-4 edge in first downs while converting 4-of-6 third-down plays and holding USM to 1-for-7 on third down conversions. The Tide averaged 6.4 yards on 32 offensive plays in the half, while USM averaged 4.3 yards on 25 plays. Alabama held the ball for 17:00 of the first half.

Alabama started the third quarter with the ball at its 35 after the kickoff was downed in the end zone. A pass from Sims to Cooper for 22 yards started the drive, carrying to the Tide 47. Cooper and Sims connected again on the next play for 14 yards to the USM 39, giving Cooper 108 yards on seven catches for the night, tying DJ Hall's UA record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games at five (set by Hall in 2006). Henry took a pitch sweep to the right side for 21 yards to the USM 13. Drake spun loose for 11 yards to the USM 2. After an incomplete pass, Drake gained one yard at right guard to the USM 1, then he struck pay dirt at left guard for the one-yard touchdown with 12:06 left. Griffith's kick was good and the eight-play, 75-yard drive that took 2:54 gave the Tide a 28-6 lead.

The Eagles started at their 21 after Ito Smith returned the kickoff 15 yards. After a delay of game penalty, USM started with a first-and-15 at their own 16. Mullens passed to Daythan Davis for five yards to the USM 21. Running back Tez Parks took a handoff around right end for 24 yards to the USM 45. A pass intended for wide receiver Kyle Foster was incomplete but a 15-yard penalty for targeting was assessed against Tide free safety Nick Perry, ejecting Perry from the game and giving USM a first down at the Tide 38. A 16-yard gain on a slant pass from Mullens to Triplett carried to the Tide 22. Two plays later on third-and-8, a pass fell incomplete as Mullens was pressured by Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen. That forced a 37-yard field goal attempt by Acosta, who booted it through the uprights for his third field goal of the game. Alabama's lead was 28-9 with 8:15 left in the third quarter.

From the Tide 8, Christion Jones returned the ensuing kickoff for 24 yards to set up the Alabama offense at the 32-yard line. On the first play, Sims lofted a pass deep along the left sideline that Cooper hauled in, but Cooper was ruled to have caught it while stepping out of bounds. A review overturned that ruling and the play counted for a 27-yard gain to the USM 41. On first down, Sims passed to Christion Jones on a crossing pattern and Jones took it 13 yards before being forced out of bounds at the USM 28. Henry took a handoff at right tackle for three yards to the Eagle 25 as an injury to USM cornerback Kalan Reed briefly stopped play. With Reed leaving the field due to the injury, play resumed with the Tide facing a second-and-7 situation. From the shotgun, Sims handed to Henry again and Henry ran up the middle of the line for six yards to set up third-and-1 at the USM 19. Drake entered at running back for Henry and took a sweep to the left end for five yards to a first down at the USM 14. Sims faked a handoff to Drake on the next play and kept the ball for a 9-yard run to the USM 5. With Sims under center, he faked a handoff to Drake, rolled to his right and passed to tight end Brian Vogler for a five-yard touchdown. Griffith's kick was good and Alabama had a 35-9 lead with 5:12 left in the third period.

A 27-yard pass play from Mullens to Ito Smith jump-started the ensuing USM possession. That play reached the Tide 48 after the Eagles started at their 25 following Michael Thomas's 25-yard kickoff return. From the 48, three plays gained a first down at the Tide 38. Three incompletions sandwiched a 5-yard false start penalty and the Eagles were forced to punt from the Tide 43. Sarrazin's 42-yard punt was downed at the Alabama 1-yard line and the Tide took possession with 2:10 left in the third period.

Jake Coker entered the game at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. On the first play, Henry burst through a hole at left guard and was a step away from breaking away but was tripped up by USM linebacker Alan Howze after an 11-yard gain at the USM 12. A five-yard pass from Coker to Chris Black reached the Tide 17. On second down, Henry carried at right guard for four yards. On third-and-1 at the 21, Henry carried over right tackle for 14 yards to the Tide 35. Drake took a handoff over right end for five yards to the Tide 40 as the third period ended.

In the third quarter Alabama outgained Southern Miss by a margin of 182 to 86 and averaged 9.1 yards per play while extending the lead from a 15-point edge to a comfortable 26-point advantage entering the final period.

The final period began with Alabama facing second-and-5 at the Tide 40-yard line. From the shotgun formation, Coker passed to Christion Jones for 22 yards to the USM 29. On the next play, Drake took a handoff around right end and he raced 29 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Griffith's kick was true and the Crimson Tide had a 42-9 lead with 13:48 left in the fourth quarter.

After a touchback on the kickoff, USM started at its 35 and marched 62 yards in 11 plays to a field goal. A 25-yard pass from Mullens to h-back Daythan Davis on the first play of the drive reached the 50. On the next play, Mullens hit wide receiver James Cox for 12 yards to the Tide 38. A screen pass to wide receiver D.J. Thompson gained six to the Tide 32. Mullens and Triplett connected for eight yards and a first down at the Tide 24. Ito Smith took a handoff for an eight-yard run to the Tide 16 before Mullens kept over right end for three yards and a first down at the Tide 13. Three incomplete passes forced a 30-yard field goal attempt by Acosta, who successfully converted his fourth field goal of the game with 9:50 left in the game. Alabama led, 42-12.

Christion Jones returned the kickoff 37 yards to set up Alabama at its 41. Coker led the Tide into the red zone. Reserve running back Tyren Jones keyed the march with 4 rushes for 43 yards, starting the drive with a 22-yard burst around right end to the USM 37. On the next play, Jones went around right end again, this time for 16 yards to the USM 21. Coker hit reserve tight end Michael Nysewander on a roll out to the right side for nine yards to the USM 12. Jones hit right end for six yards, then Coker kept for five yards to the USM 1. Jones was stuffed for a loss of 1 yard to set up third-and-goal at the USM 2. Coker was sacked on the next play as he faded to pass but could not find an open receiver. The 11-yard loss set up a 30-yard field goal by Adam Griffith, who nailed the kick to give the Tide a 45-12 lead with 6:03 left in the game.

USM took over at its 25 after a touchback on the kickoff. The Eagles were forced to punt after three plays failed to gain a first down. Sarrazin's 41-yard punt was fair caught by Alabama's Cyrus Jones at the Tide 31 with 4:50 on the clock. The Tide was forced to punt after three plays, but Tide punter JK Scott was knocked down on the play and a 15-yard personal foul was assessed on USM. That kept the possession alive for Alabama at the USM 47 with 3:08 remaining.

Alec Morris entered the game at quarterback for Alabama at that point. On first down, Tyren Jones carried for 9 yards to the USM 38. Jones got the handoff again on the next play and gained three yards to a first down at the Eagles 35. Altee Tenpenny took a handoff around right end and gained eight yards to the 27. Tenpenny gained the first down on the next play, a six-yard carry to the USM 21. Tenpenny powered over right guard for six more to the USM 15, then he bulled his way around right end for 13 yards to a first down at the USM 2, going out of bounds with 23 seconds on the clock. On the next play, Tyren Jones took a handoff at left end and went untouched for a two-yard touchdown with 16 seconds on the clock. Griffith's kick was good and Alabama led, 52-12.

Casey Martin returned the Alabama kickoff 21 yards to the USM 21. On the game's final play, Mullen handed off to Tez Parks who carried for 3 yards over left tackle as the game ended.

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