TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 3-ranked Alabama football team defeated the Georgia Southern Eagles, 45-21, before a sellout crowd of 101,821 on Senior Day at Bryant-Denny Stadium. With the win, Alabama improves to 10-1 on the season while Georgia Southern falls to 9-2. Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson rushed for 175 yards on 32 carries, scoring three touchdowns on the day, while sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns, completing 14-of-19 passes. Senior tight end Brad Smelley caught four passes for a career-high 58 yards and two touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
"In my opinion that was a good win for us," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "That's a good little team we played out there today. When I say little team, I don't mean literally. Those guys played hard and played with a lot of toughness. I think it was really important that our offense did a fantastic job of controlling the ball. They were always able to answer the bell and do a really a good job of not allowing them to have the ball. The time of possession was really good for us. I was really pleased with the way we competed. We played a lot better in the second half than we did the first. We did a good job on third down to keep the drives going. We always answered when we needed to."
After receiving the ball to start the game, Alabama moved 42 yards in seven plays, culminating in a 32-yard Jeremy Shelley field goal to put the Crimson Tide ahead, 3-0. On the ensuing possession UA junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower blocked a 42-yard Georgia Southern field goal attempt and junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick scooped the ball and scampered 55 yards for the first touchdown of the game to put Alabama up 10-0. The blocked field goal for a touchdown was the first touchdown of Kirkpatrick's career and the first on a blocked field goal for the Crimson Tide since a November 29, 2003, game at Hawaii.
From there, Richardson scored the first of his three touchdowns on the day, catching a four-yard pass from McCarron to increase the Alabama advantage to 17-0 at the 12:56 mark of the second quarter. Georgia Southern was able to get on the board with an 82-yard touchdown by Dominique Swope to make the score 17-7, however the Crimson Tide was able to answer the GSU touchdown with a score of its own.
Richardson capped off a 12-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to push the Alabama lead to 24-7 midway through the second quarter. Georgia Southern responded with a touchdown right before halftime on a 39-yard pass from Jaybo Shaw to Jonathan Bryant to make the score 24-14 at intermission.
After forcing a GSU punt on the opening possession of the second half, Alabama marched 85 yards in 10 plays with McCarron finding Smelley from 34 yards out to push the Alabama advantage to 31-14. A 95-yard kickoff return return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff by GSU's Laron Scott put the score at 31-21 midway through the third quarter before the Tide added two more touchdowns to put the game away.
Richardson scored his third and final touchdown of the day, bulldozing his way into the end zone from a yard out to give Alabama a 38-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter. From there, the Crimson Tide capped things off with a 15-play, 92-yard drive, taking 8:36 off the clock, culminating in Smelley's second touchdown of the day, a four-yard reception from McCarron, to make it 45-21.
Playing in his final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, senior safety Mark Barron led Alabama with eight tackles on the day. Quinton Dial also registered eight tackles, a career-high for the junior defensive lineman, while junior linebacker Nico Johnson and Hightower each added six tackles.