INSTANT: Passing game carries Alabama to victory over South Carolina

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INSTANT: Passing game carries Alabama to victory over South Carolina

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

Alabama set individual and team records on offense but struggled on defense en route to a 47-23 win at South Carolina in its SEC opener.

Play of the game: On fourth-and-2 with Alabama leading by seven, junior running back Najee Harris caught a short pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, stiff-armed one defender, hurdled another, and ran into the end zone for his second receiving touchdown of the game. 

Offensive player of the game:

James Benedetto: Tua Tagovailoa

James Ogletree: DeVonta Smith

Fan vote: Tua Tagovailoa

Defensive player of the game:

James Benedetto: Xavier McKinney 

James Ogletree: Xavier McKinney

Fan vote: Xavier McKinney

Notes:

  • Alabama needed just five plays to take the lead, with Tagovailoa throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Harris on a wheel route. The drive lasted 1:39.
  • South Carolina responded with a 14-play, 60-yard drive that lasted nearly five minutes. Freshman safety Jordan Battle had a key third-down sack of quarterback Ryan Hilinski to force a field goal.
  • Alabama quickly responded to the long South Carolina drive using four plays to go 96 yards for the touchdown. Henry Ruggs III was left open in the middle of the field after the RPO drew in the Gamecock linebackers. 
  • Hilinski responded with a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Shi Smith to make the score 14-10 with just under two minutes left in the first quarter.
  • On fourth-and-2, Tagovailoa found Harris over the middle and Harris went 42 yards for the touchdown, stiff-arming one defender and hurdling over another. It was Tagovailoa’s 72nd career touchdown at Alabama, breaking a tie with Jalen Hurts for the second most in school history behind A.J. McCarron’s 80.
  • Freshman kicker Will Reichard missed a 37-yard field goal.
  • South Carolina drove down to the Alabama 1-yard line right before halftime, but a fumble on third down and an incompletion on fourth down ended their chance to get back within a touchdown. Alabama led 24-10 at intermission.
  • The Gamecocks continued to move the ball against the Crimson Tide’s defense to start the second half, kicking a 28-yard field goal at the end of an 11-play drive to make the score 24-13.
  • Alabama once again responded quickly going 75 yards in five plays resulting in a DeVonta Smith touchdown. It was Alabama’s third touchdown scoring drive in under two minutes and Tagovailoa’s fifth passing touchdown of the day, tying his career high. 
  • Late in the third quarter Tagovailoa threw a 12-yard pass to tight end Major Tennison to reach 388 passing yards, surpassing his previous career high of 387 against Texas A&M last year. He finished the game with 444 yards.
  • Xavier McKinney intercepted a Hilinski pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter.