Sept. 26, 2015
Final Stats |
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The 12th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1 overall; 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference) shut out the visiting ULM Warhawks (1-2; 0-0 in the Sun Belt Conference) by a final score of 34-0 in front of 101,323 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Tide got off to another slow start offensively, getting on the board with 2:38 remaining in the first quarter thanks to a three-yard run by junior running back Derrick Henry. Senior quarterback Jacob Coker found freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley for a touchdown early in the second quarter, the first of the rookie’s career. In the second half, Alabama was able to put the game away. Junior placekicker Adam Griffith made field goals of 35 and 40 yards, and Coker tossed two more touchdowns.
Defensively, the Tide dominated ULM. For the game, the Alabama defense allowed a total of 92 yards from scrimmage, the fewest yards given up by an Alabama defense since the 2012 BCS Championship Game against LSU, when the Tigers also gained 92 yards of offense. The defense also recorded six quarterback sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
Alabama gained 303 yards total yards (166 passing and 137 rushing) and converted 17 first downs. The Warhawks picked up 83 yards through the air and nine on the ground, along with gaining 10 first downs.
ULM won the toss and deferred their option to the second half. Alabama received the opening kickoff.
Sophomore ArDarius Stewart took the ball out to the 16, but the Crimson Tide offense went three-and-out quickly. A punt of just 18 yards gave the Warhawks the ball at the Alabama 40, but the Tide defense responded and ULM was forced to kick the ball away.
Freshman receiver Calvin Ridley picked up the initial first down of the game, hauling in a pass from Coker and racing down the sidelines for 13 yards. Coker found Richard Mullaney over the middle on third-and-4 to keep the drive going, but a completion to junior tight end O.J. Howard on the next series came up just shy of another first down. A 39-yard punt from sophomore JK Scott put the ball at the 18 for the Warhawks’ next possession.
A sack by senior linebacker Denzel Devall shut down ULM’s offense before it could get going, resulting in a second consecutive three-and-out. After the punt, the Tide took over at their own 45. An 11-yard pass to sophomore receiver Cam Sims moved the ball across midfield, then Henry burst ahead for 10 yards on third-and-5. From there, Henry and senior running back Kenyan Drake chipped away at the remaining 26 yards to the end zone. On fourth-and-1 from the 3, Henry powered through the defense for the touchdown. The drive covered 55 yards in 11 plays and took 3:47 off the clock, making the score 7-0 with 2:33 left to play in the opening quarter.
The Warhawks could get nothing going offensively, as quarterback Garrett Smith completed just one of his three passes on their next series. Alabama once had good field position following the ULM punt, but couldn’t capitalize on it this time as Coker misfired on three-straight pass attempts.
The second quarter began with the Warhawks on offense, but they failed to pick up a first down for the fourth consecutive possession. On fourth down, punter Chris Qualls could not handle the snap, as the ball rolled nearly to the goal line. He was able to pick the ball up and get it back to the 15, but was tackled there. The Tide immediately cashed in on the opportunity, as Coker connected with Ridley for a touchdown on the next play. It was the first touchdown of Ridley’s career. That extended the score to 14-0 in favor of Alabama less than two minutes into the quarter.
After the fifth Warkhawks three-and-out of the half, the Tide had possession once again, but an errant pass by Coker was intercepted at the ULM 38 by Tre’ Hunter and returned to midfield. The Warhawks appeared to have picked up a first down thanks to a targeting penalty on third down, but the call was overturned following a review, producing a sixth three-and-out in the opening half.
Alabama started its next possession at the 7, and used an effective balance of running and passing plays to reach the 50. However, the drive stalled there when a pass intended for Sims fell incomplete.
It appeared the Warhawks would go three-and-out for a seventh time, but fourth-and-3 punter Qualls lobbed a pass over the middle to tight end Harley Scioneaux out of a punt formation. Scioneaux gained up five yards on the play for a first down, ULM’s first of the game. The offense would convert an additional first down, but the drive went no farther and the Alabama offense took the field again.
This time it was the Warhawks defense that came up with a three-and-out. The possession started with a five-yard completion from Coker to Ridley, but the Tide could not collect a first down. Scott’s punt was a good one, covering 43 yards to give ULM the ball back at the 18 with just over three minutes to play in the half.
With the defense forcing another three-and-out, Alabama got the ball back for one final possession in the half, taking over in Warhawks territory. Coker and the offense could not move the ball, though, as the senior quarterback was hurried and missed his target on fourth-and-4. ULM tried to put together a drive in the final minute, but Smith’s pass was intercepted by senior defensive back Geno Matias-Smith on fourth down. It was the Warhawks quarterback’s first interception thrown since the second drive of their season opener against Georgia.
Coming out of the locker room, ULM successfully converted two first downs to reach midfield, but failed to pick up a third when Smith was stopped on a scramble on third-and-2. Following a penalty on the punt, Alabama started its first drive of the half at the 36. Drake led the Tide down the field, moving the ball into the red zone. Facing a fourth-and-1, Alabama’s offense stayed on the field, but a false start penalty pushed the ball back five yards. That sent junior place kicker Adam Griffith out for a 40-yard attempt, which he drilled through the uprights to give the Tide a 17-0 lead.
ULM’s offense went three-and-out again, with Smith throwing incompletions on all three plays. The Warhawks were flagged for kick catch interference during the punt, giving Alabama another short field. Starting at the ULM 40, freshman running back Damien Harris gained 18 total yards on a pair of rushes. Two plays later Coker rolled out and dumped a pass off to senior tight end Michael Nysewander, who took it 19 yards for the score. The drive was a brief four plays, 40 yards in 2:03 and increased the lead to 24-0 midway through the third quarter.
The teams traded three-and-outs late in the quarter, and the score remained 24-0 going into the final 15 minutes.
A Warhawks punt in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter gave the ball to Alabama at the 47. Coker used his throwing arm to lead the offense down the field, hitting junior wide out Chris Black for a couple of completions and Sims for another. However, for the second time in the game, a drive stalled in the red zone. Griffith came out for another field goal try, this one from 35-yards, and it was good. The drive was a total of 35 yards in seven plays in 2:19, giving the Tide a 27-0 lead.
Alabama’s defense came up with a big play on ULM’s next offensive possession. Facing third-and-15, Smith’s pass was tipped and then intercepted by freshman defensive back Ronnie Harrison, who took the ball back to the Warhawks 19. On the second play of the drive, Coker hit Stewart just inside the pylon for a 16-yard touchdown strike. The Tide held a commanding 34-0 advantage with 10:05 to play.
ULM would respond with its best drive of the game, holding the ball for over five minutes and marching 43 yards down the field. However, a sack on fourth down ended the drive and preserved the shutout.