Crimson Tide rolls over Hilltoppers, 35-0

The SportsXchange

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama had little trouble with Western Kentucky on Saturday, rolling to a 35-0 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Crimson Tide (2-0) got a strong day from junior quarterback AJ McCarron who completed 14-of-19 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns, which tied a cereer high.

Western Kentucky (1-1) turned the ball over four times, three of which led directly to Alabama scores.

"They played us like I thought they would," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "Run the ball, shrink the game, complete a lot of short passes, and pressure like crazy on defense to try to give you negative plays. Every time they gave us a negative play, we didn't overcome it very well. When we executed properly, I thought we did a pretty good job, put some good drives together and made some big plays, but that is something that we definitely need to get corrected."

It took the Crimson Tide no time whatsoever to jump out to a 7-0 lead. On only four plays and in 1:53, Alabama went 72 yards and McCarron hit Christion Jones on an easy pitch-and-catch for a 14-yard touchdown.

Western Kentucky fumbled away its first two possessions and the second turnover was costly. McCarron and the Tide took over at the WKU 33 and the junior found Kevin Norwood wide open on a post route on the next play to make it 14-0 at the 5:57 mark.

The Hilltoppers drove into the Alabama red zone, but fumbled away opportunity again, leading to another Crimson Tide scoring drive. McCarron again found Jones, this touchdown strike coming from 22 yards to make it 21-0 with 6:53 left in the half.

"(McCarron) was looking at me and I just had to make the plays," Norwood, a junior, said. "I've been hungry for these touchdowns for over three years now, so I had to make the plays."

The Hilltoppers started the second half with another turnover, as Kawaun Jakes' pass was intercepted by Deion Belue.

McCarron hit Norwood for 12 yards one play later to make it 28-0 less than two minutes into the third.

"At the end of the day that's what it all boils down to," coach Willie Taggart of Western Kentucky said of the turnovers. "We wanted to play good defense, stop the run and not turn the ball over. We did totally opposite of what we wanted to do. We played the No. 1 team in the country and whenever you turn the ball over, you limit yourself opportunities."

Kenyan Drake added a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth to cap the scoring.

Jakes completed 20-of-31 passes for 177 yards with an interception.

Norwood had three catches for 92 yards, while Jones caught three balls for 47 yards, and each scored two touchdowns. Eddie Lacy led Alabama in rushing with 36 yards on nine carries.

Western Kentucky was shut out for the first time since 2002, when it lost to Western Illinois, 14-0.

NOTES: Neither team committed a penalty in the first half. ... Alabama has allowed seven points or fewer in the first half in 18 of its last 19 games. ... Boxing legend Evander Holyfield gave a speech to the Western Kentucky team in the locker room before the game.
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