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Bama gets prelims out of the way

The SportsXchange

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The formalities are over.

Although Alabama appeared to be hardly inspired on Saturday, the Crimson Tide scored four touchdowns in the first half and started plugging in the reserves after taking a 35-point lead early in the third quarter during a 49-0 rout of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Senior quarterback AJ McCarron completed 13-of-16 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Kevin Norwood had four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in their final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"This has been the best five years of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world," said McCarron, who as a going-away gift from the coaching staff got to throw a completion to his brother Corey, a walk-on tight end. "That's why I came back, for memories like this."

The No. 1 Crimson Tide (11-0) outgained the Moccasins, 435-175, and amassed 251 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Sophomore running back Kenyan Drake had 11 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown, while freshman running back Derrick Henry had six carries for 66 yards and another score.

The other rushing touchdowns were by Dee Hart and wide receiver Chris Black, who, as if to give future opponents something extra to think about, lined up in the backfield for the first time and went 11 yards around the right corner.

After fumbling his first punt return, junior Christion Jones made up for it with a 75-yard return for a touchdown, his second of the season.

"I really didn't get down on myself," Jones said. "It was just an error I knew that I had to make up for. But I knew that I was going to get another chance and I just had to keep that in the back of my head."

Chattanooga's best chance to score on a 48-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter was blocked by freshman defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson.

Five players later McCarron hit Norwood on a 28-yard touchdown pass for a 28-0 lead.

"For me, it was perfect," senior linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We came out with a shutout. It can't get any better than that for a defensive player."

It was the Crimson Tide's third shutout of the season.

"You feel disappointed in losing a game, but Alabama has done that to a lot of people this year, last year and the previous year," Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman said.

"I don't know if we could say we played as good as we could. Five years ago we came in and had 84 yards total. Today we had 175 yards. We shouldn't be doing backflips about that."

Alabama's path to its third straight national championship is down to next Saturday's game at No. 6 Auburn, and with a win the subsequent SEC Championship Game in Atlanta a week later.

Tennessee-Chattanooga (8-4) finds out Sunday if it will play in the 24-team Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Moccasins were ranked No. 21 in the latest coaches' poll.

"(Alabama) is a great football team and I hope they win the national championship," Huesman added.

Alabama coach Nick Saban elected to rest players dealing with injuries, including cornerback Deion Belue (toe), running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle), and junior tight end Brian Vogler (ankle).

Instead, the Crimson Tide started true freshmen Maurice Smith at cornerback along with true freshman tight end O.J. Howard and Drake.

Left guard Arie Kouandjio had a scary moment in the second quarter when an opposing player landed him and he sustained a sprained ankle, but Alabama hopes he will be ready for the Auburn game.

NOTES: Chattanooga QB Jacob Huesman (knee), didn't start, but did briefly play in the game. Terrell Robinson started and completed 10-of- 15 passes for 82 yards. ... News broke during the game that Corey Harris, Alabama's assistant strength and conditioning coach, who was suspended indefinitely when it was discovered he gave a small loan to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix last summer, is no longer employed at Alabama. Clinton-Dix, a junior safety, served a two-game suspension earlier this season. ... Among those honored during Alabama's Senior Day pregame ceremony included Kenny Bell, Deion Belue, Cade Foster, John Fulton, AJ McCarron, C.J. Mosley, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick, Anthony Steen, Ed Stinson and Kellen Williams.
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