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Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0

The SportsXchange

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If it wasn't bad enough that Alabama was ranked fourth in the nation, Western Carolina also had the misfortune of visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium following a Crimson Tide loss.

The reigning national champions took it out on the Football Championship Subdivision team.

Junior running back Eddie Lacy ran for three touchdowns and freshman running back T.J. Yeldon one as Alabama amassed 338 total yards in the first half en route to a 49-0 victory on Saturday.

"We wanted the guys to play to a standard, which in the last couple of weeks we haven't played to," coach Nick Saban said at halftime. "I think we've done that today.

"We just have to keep doing it and play for 60 minutes, which is another standard we have around here regardless of who is playing in the game."

About the only thing that went Western Carolina's way was Alabama sophomore Christion Jones fumbling a punt return in the final minute of the first half at his own 29.

However, when the Catamounts tried a play-action lateral to reserve quarterback Eddie Sullivan, he dropped it, with junior cornerback Deion Belue picking up the loose ball and returning it 57 yards for a touchdown.

Consequently, Alabama's final dress rehearsal for its annual rivalry game with Auburn had more of a scrimmage feel, especially with the empty seats in the half-full student section.

Even with the estimate of 75,000 fans in Bryant-Denny Stadium (102,000-plus capacity), it was a smaller crowd than any A-Day spring game since Saban arrived in 2007.

Not only was the Crimson Tide (10-1) coming off a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M, it was arguably playing its worst opponent since routing Delta State, 89-0, in 1951. The Division II school from Mississippi went 1-8 that season.

Western Carolina, which finished its season 1-10, has won 11 games since 2006, including a 52-6 loss to Alabama in Saban's first game at Alabama in 2007. The other meeting was a 52-0 Tide victory in 2004.

In the 121-team FCS, the Catamounts came in ranked 114th in pass-efficiency defense, 116th in scoring defense, 119th in total defense, and 120th in rushing defense.

Alabama didn't play its starters in the second half, and quarterback AJ McCarron took a seat midway through the second quarter after his 29-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Christion Jones set the Crimson Tide season-season record for touchdown passes with 21. Greg McElroy had the previous record of 20 in 2010.

McCarron completed all six of his passes for 133 yards. Lacy led all rushers with 99 yards on 10 carries, while freshman Amari Cooper topped the receivers with 50 yards on two catches, both on the initial drive.

NOTES: Alabama junior cornerback John Fulton (turf toe) did not dress for the game. Freshman running back Kenyon Drake didn't play (coach's decision). ... Alabama has outscored its opponents, 125-26, in the first quarter. ... The Crimson Tide has scored two or more rushing touchdowns in six straight games. It was the third time Lacy scored at least three in a game. ... Western Carolina defensive line coach Mark Rhea was a defensive lineman for Alabama coach Nick Saban at Toledo (1990). He was also a graduate assistant for him at Michigan State (1994-95). ... Dating to 1986, Western Carolina is 0-14 versus teams that are currently in the Southeastern Conference. ... It was Alabama's third shutout of the season. The last time Western Carolina was shut out was Sept. 5, 2009, by Vanderbilt, 45-0.
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