INSTANT: Alabama closes home schedule with 66-3 win over Western Carolina

CW+%2F+Madelyn+Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

James Ogletree, James Benedetto, and Jack Kennedy

Alabama defeated Western Carolina 66-3 in its final home game of the season on Saturday. The defense forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, and the offense scored eight touchdowns — four passing and four rushing.

Play of the game: On Alabama’s second drive of the game, redshirt sophomore Mac Jones threw a short pass out to junior receiver DeVonta Smith. Smith broke to the sideline and juked two WCU defenders, then exploded past four potential tacklers en route to a 57-yard touchdown.

Offensive player of the game:

James Ogletree: DeVonta Smith

James Benedetto: Mac Jones

Jack Kennedy: Mac Jones

Fan Vote: Jaylen Waddle

Defensive player of the game:

James Ogletree: Xavier McKinney

James Benedetto: Jared Mayden

Jack Kennedy: Xavier McKinney

Fan Vote: Xavier McKinney

Notes:

  • On its opening drive, Alabama drove to the Catamounts’ 11-yard line but could not find the end zone as Jones narrowly missed redshirt sophomore tight end Major Tennison in the corner of the end zone. Redshirt sophomore kicker Joseph Bulovas converted a 29-yard field goal to put the Crimson Tide up 3-0 early. 
  • Western Carolina had a 28-yard pass play on its opening drive, but junior safety Xavier McKinney stopped the Catamounts’ drive by spinning all the way around for an interception, his second pick of the year.
  • Just three plays later, Smith caught the short pass from Jones and outraced four Catamounts for his 12th touchdown catch of the year.
  • Western Carolina again crossed midfield on its second drive and was again intercepted by McKinney, this time on a tipped pass. McKinney scampered 81 yards down the sideline to put Alabama up 17-0 less than 10 minutes into the game.
  • McKinney continued his monster game in the second quarter. He batted a pass by WCU quarterback Tyrie Adams, then chased Adams down and forced a fumble after the quarterback caught his own pass.
  • Jones found junior wide receiver Jerry Jeudy for a 44-yard gain on the first play of the ensuing drive, putting the Crimson Tide into the redzone. Five plays later, junior running back Brian Robinson Jr. powered over a defender for a 5-yard touchdown and increased the Crimson Tide lead to 24-0 with 11:29 remaining in the second quarter.
  • On the next drive for the Crimson Tide, Jones completed all three of his passes, including a 12-yard touchdown to junior running back Najee Harris who bounced off multiple Catamount defenders en route to the end zone but could not be brought down. With 7:36 in the second quarter remaining, the touchdown brought Alabama’s lead to 31-0
  • Alabama went back on offense with 4:something left before halftime. Rather than running out the clock, Jones threw a screen to sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. He got a block from Jeudy, found a lane to the sideline and was not caught until he was in the end zone 54 yards away. The Crimson Tide led 38-0.
  • Waddle returned WCU’s next punt all the way to the 3-yard line after the Catamounts went three-and-out. On the next play, though, Robinson fumbled at the goal line and Western Carolina recovered it for a touchback.
  • At halftime, Jones was 9 of 11 for 253 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Alabama intercepted WCU a third time on the first play of the second half. Adams threw the ball right to senior safety Jared Mayden. Jones’ first pass of the half was a 22-yarder to Jeudy and Harris scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown two plays later.
  • Jones’ day was done after that, as freshman quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa entered the game and threw his first career touchdown pass, a 15-yard catch-and-run to Smith. It was Tagovailoa’s fifth game of the year, meaning he can no longer redshirt this season.
  • Freshman running back Keilan Robinson had a 46-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. It was his second touchdown of the season, following a 74-yarder against New Mexico State.