Defense allows season-high rush yards in win against The Citadel


By Hannah Saad

Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

Twelve seconds after Alabama took its second-half lead against The Citadel, the Crimson Tide defense scored for the seventh time this season, contributing to Alabama’s 50-17 win against The Citadel Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs started the drive at their own 25-yard line, but a delay of game penalty forced them back to the 20. Nkem Njoku took the pitch from quarterback Brandon Rainey at the 16-yard line, went forward two yards and was met by an Alabama defender.

Safety Deionte Thompson followed up and stripped the ball from the freshman, while outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings scooped the ball and ran 18 yards for his first career touchdown.

“Xavier did a good job of attacking the ball and forcing the ball out,” Jennings said. “The ball was just out, and I scooped and scored. We do it in practice all the time.”

That play was one of Alabama’s five tackles for loss on the day, but it didn’t have its normal success it has had all month.

It allowed 17 points, which was the most points it has allowed since Tennessee scored 21 on Oct. 21.

The Citadel’s two touchdowns were scored on a quarterback pitch to the right side. On its first score, quarterback Brandon Rainey drew in the Alabama cornerback and pitched the ball to running back Dante Smith, who sprinted untouched for a 45-yard touchdown.

Its other score was also by Smith, who received the pitch from Rainey and bounced outside and sprinted for a 44-yard score.

“The two big plays we gave up, everyone has to fit their responsibilities on the option and two times we had a guy not take the pitch when he was supposed to take the pitch,” coach Nick Saban said. “That resulted in two 40 plus yard runs. Besides that, I thought our guys tried to execute fairly well.”

Besides that 44-yard run, Alabama’s defense controlled the running game for the most part. It allowed 82 yards on the ground and forced three three-and-outs.

“We made some halftime adjustments to a couple of the formations they were in,” Saban said. “I think it helped us a little bit.”

The Bulldogs finished with 275 rushing yards, which is the most Alabama has allowed all season, and its most since the 2015 Sugar Bowl.

The Crimson Tide finished with two offensive turnovers, both fumbles. The first came when Jerry Jeudy was stripped from behind while trying to make a cut. The other was on the opening kick of the second half, when Miller Forristall was hit while making a return.

After both fumbles, the defense forced a three-and-out, giving up just five yards in those two drives combined.

“That doesn’t really bother us,” Jennings said. “We want to control the ball and protect the ball at all costs, but usually we respond well to sudden change. We take pride in doing stuff like that and having our backs against the wall.”

One of the hard parts about covering the triple option is the was the offense blocks. Most of the blocks are not true blocks, but cut blocks, which is where the blocker tries to take out the legs of the defender.

“It is really just about playing the ball, dominating your man,” defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said. “The problem was going against the cut blocks, so you just have to make sure to get your hands down.”

Alabama is back in action on Saturday, Nov. 24 as it hosts the Iron Bowl.