Alabama vs.Arkansas

 
  Date: 9/26/2009  
  Score: 35-7  
  Alabama vs. Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A career-high 291 passing yards from quarterback Greg McElroy, combined with a staunch defensive effort, propelled No. 3 Alabama to a convincing 35-7 win over Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference opener for the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama held a 425 to 254 advantage in total offense with five different players scoring, including three touchdown passes from McElroy. The Crimson Tide defense also performed well, allowing just 63 yards on the ground with three sacks, eight tackles for a loss, six quarterback hurries and an interception.

McElroy keyed the offensive output with another solid performance, completing 17-of-24 passes for 291 yards and touchdown strikes of 80, 50 and 14 yards with no interceptions. On the ground, Alabama gained 134 yards, the majority split between Trent Richardson (9 carries, 65 yards) and Mark Ingram (17 carries, 50 yards). Ingram finished the afternoon with 71 total yards of offense and two scores.

Alabama (4-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead at halftime thanks to scoring plays of 52 and 50 yards. Richardson jump-started the Tide’s scoring with a 52-yard touchdown run over right end, breaking four tackles behind the line of scrimmage to spring the run that gave UA a 7-0 lead with 9:30 left in the half.

Following another defensive stop, the offense tacked on another touchdown when a direct-snap reverse freed up receiver Julio Jones downfield. McElroy, who received the ball from Terry Grant via Ingram, hit the wide-open Jones for the 50-yard strike to give the Tide a 14-0 halftime lead.

Alabama’s defense was the story of the first half, limiting Arkansas to just 101 yards of total offense and forcing the Razorbacks to punt on all seven first-half possessions. The Tide’s rush defense was particularly stout, allowing 27 yards on 17 attempts while quarterback Ryan Mallett completed only seven of his 21 attempts for 74 yards. The Arkansas signal caller finished the afternoon 12-of-35 passing for 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Cornerback Javier Arenas led the Tide’s first-half defensive effort on the rain-soaked grass with four solo tackles, three of them for losses totaling 25 yards, and two quarterback sacks for his first multi-sack game at Alabama.

Arkansas’ lone score came when the Razorbacks took the opening drive of the second half 55 yards in five plays culminating with an 18-yard toss from Mallett to Greg Childs that cut UA’s lead to 14-7.

The Tide needed just one play covering 20 seconds to respond to Arkansas’ only score as McElroy found a streaking receiver Marquis Maze along the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown completion to take a 21-7 lead with 10:25 left in the third quarter. The Tide defense returned to form on the ensuing series, forcing a three-and-out that allowed the special teams unit to shine.

With Arkansas in punt formation, Lorenzo Washington blocked a Dylan Breeding punt.

Alabama made use of the short field on the fifth play of the series as McElroy, facing a healthy dose of pressure, dumped the ball off to Ingram on a screen pass. A lone block up the sideline allowed Ingram to waltz into the end zone for the first of his two touchdowns on the day.

The Crimson Tide effectively sealed the verdict with its third straight touchdown drive, this one a clock-killing 99-yard march that took 6:28 off the clock before Ingram’s two-yard dash ended the day’s scoring with 13:12 left in the fourth quarter.