Alabama vs.South Carolina

  Date: 10/17/2009  
  Score: 20-6  
  Alabama vs. South Carolina

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Running back Mark Ingram churned out a career-high 246 yards and the game-clinching touchdown to power the second-ranked Crimson Tide to a 20-6 victory against No. 22 South Carolina.

Ingram’s powerful running and a punishing defense helped the Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) overcome four turnovers and 10 penalties. Ingram’s previous career-high was 172 yards set one week earlier against Mississippi, which also didn’t manage a touchdown against the Crimson Tide.

The game’s only other touchdown fittingly came from a Crimson Tide defense that sacked Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia five times and kept him firing blanks into the end zone at the end of promising drives. Safety Mark Barron stepped in front of Garcia’s first pass attempt in the middle of the field and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown.

South Carolina responded when Garcia and Alshon Jeffrey connected for a 52-yard pass play to the Alabama 16 and an eight-yard completion to Moe Brown set up a first-and-goal from the five. Three plays later, Spencer Lanning rammed a 22-yard field goal between the uprights for a 10-3 game.

A 54-yard Ingram run helped set up Tiffin’s 35-yard field goal to give the Crimson Tide a 13-3 lead with 56 seconds on the clock, but Garcia led South Carolina into Alabama territory with runs of 21 and 12 yards, allowing Lanning to connect from 31 yards for a 13-6 score at the half.

South Carolina failed to score off two drives into Alabama territory late in the third quarter. The Gamecocks marched just across midfield on 12 plays before having to punt. Then Clifton Geathers stripped the ball from McElroy to give them back the ball. But the Alabama defense held again and Lanning’s 50-yard field goal attempt was short.

The Tide relied on Ingram late in the game. With Alabama leading by only seven with eight minutes to play, Ingram carried the ball on each of Alabama’s six plays during a game-changing drive that chewed three-plus minutes off the clock. Runs of 24 and 22 yards set up a first-and-goal on the four and Alabama’s workhorse lowered his head on the next play for a clinching touchdown with just under five minutes remaining.

Garcia wound up 20 of 46 for 214 yards, and South Carolina managed just 64 yards rushing. McElroy also was shaky against the nation’s sixth-ranked pass defense. His first pass – and two of his initial four – was picked off after he had gone 135 straight passes without an interception. He wound up completing 10 of his 20 attempts for 92 yards. Ingram made up for it on his 24 rushes and also caught two passes for 23 yards.

Both teams were missing key players. South Carolina’s second-leading rusher, Jarvis Giles, was suspended. Alabama cornerback and return man Javier Arenas watched from the sidelines with a rib injury that was aggravated before the game.