Stout Alabama defense holds Auburn to 21 points in Iron Bowl win


By Grant Nicholls

Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

Alabama’s defense had played a nice game with 9:04 left in the third quarter. It had allowed 14 points but had limited Auburn to only 130 yards. The Crimson Tide was up 17 points before Auburn’s second drive of the second half.

The Tigers were initially stopped, going three-and-out but a targeting foul on Jared Mayden kept the drive alive. Later on the drive, they drove into the Alabama 30, following another 15-yard penalty. They gained six yards on the first three plays.

On fourth down, Auburn decided to go for it, bringing in backup quarterback Malik Willis. Willis hit kicker Andres Carlson, but he was stopped short by freshman Patrick Surtain. From there the Crimson Tide limited Auburn to one touchdown, winning 52-21.

“We had to have three or four roughing the passer penalties, most of them on third down,” coach Nick Saban said. “You can’t give people a new set of downs three or four times a game… Just not the kind of winning football you want guys to play.”

Alabama limited Auburn to 283 yards of total offense on 75 plays, for an average of 3.7 yards a play. It was the 17th time since the 2017 season that an Alabama opponent was held under 300 yards. Outside the three drives that resulted in touchdowns, the Tigers finished with 127 yards.

The biggest contribution for the defense was slowing down the Tiger passing game. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed just 13 of his 30 passes for 127 yards, 52 of which came on his lone touchdown to Darius Slayton.

While its trick play on fourth down midway through the first quarter failed, the Tigers converted their first trick play of the game. With four minutes left in the first half, Stidham threw the ball to receiver Ryan Davis seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. Davis stepped up and threw a pass to Malik Miller, who was wide open on the play, for a touchdown.

“I knew that they were going to try and come out with tricks and gimmicks to try to get us to lose focus,” defensive back Shyheim Carter said. “We just had to make adjustments.”

Alabama put pressure on Stidham and the running game throughout the contest. The Crimson Tide brought Stidham down three times for a loss of 17 total yards. It also held the Tigers to 130 yards with the longest run going only nine yards.

Linebacker Dylan Moses and defensive end LaBryan Ray finished with nine tackles each. Ray filled in for Isaiah Buggs, who hyperextended his knee early in the first quarter. Saban said that he should be fine moving forward.

Outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings totaled eight tackles and brought down Stidham once. He also intercepted the Tigers quarterback, which was the first of his career.

“I’m really proud of him,” Carter said. “Last week he told me that he was going to get a touchdown. He did it last week. This week he told me he was going to get a pick. He did it.”

Alabama returns to action next week in Atlanta when it plays Georgia in the SEC Championship.

“That’s going to be crazy, but I mean we’re going to have a good week of practice,” Jennings said. “We’re going to get our minds right, get our bodies right, refocus and go out there and do what we do.”