Alabama rolls to win but loses shutout streak

Christopher Walsh, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TUSCALOOSA. Ala. -- The only question Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium was if the University of Alabama's shutout streak would survive against Florida Atlantic.
Nope, but it was close.
With the Owls finally reaching the end zone with 2:49 remaining, the Crimson Tide just missed becoming the first team since Kansas State in 1995 to post three consecutive shutouts.
Otherwise, No. 1 Alabama was never threatened, giving up just one first down through the first three quarters and rolling up more than 500 yards of total offense in the 40-7 victory.
"It's just a number," sophomore linebacker Trey DePriest said about losing the shutout. "We just want to go out there and dominate."
Junior quarterback AJ McCarron had three touchdown passes and junior running back Eddie Lacy ran for 106 yards on 15 carries, all in the first half, to lead the Alabama offense. The Tide scored on each of theirs first six possessions.
Alabama needed just four plays to reach the end zone with junior Kenny Bell's 85-yard catch, the sixth longest touchdown reception in program history. Sophomores DeAndrew White and Christion Jones had the other two touchdown catches, both 4 yards.
"I feel like the 85-yard touchdown set the momentum for the offense," Bell said. "That's when we started clicking from there."
In contrast, most of FAU's offense (75 of 110 yards) came on its touchdown drive against Alabama's reserves, with Graham Wilbert connecting with Alex Deleon for a 6-yard touchdown.
Before that drive, the Owls' biggest play was a 7-yard pass.
"That's a great defense that we faced. I mean I don't know if it was a slow start or if it was a fast start for them defensively," FAU coach Carl Pelini said. "They're a very good defensive football team and they were just physically handling us upfront early in the game."
About the only other disappointment for the sellout crowd of 101,821 was that the Crimson Tide (4-0) had to settle four field goals and punted once.
Florida Atlantic's other good scoring chance came late in the first quarter when Jones fumbled a punt return -- just Alabama's second turnover of the season - to give the Owls (1-3) a first down at the Crimson Tide 25-yard line.
However, after being pushed back on a sack by sophomore defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan, Vinny Zacario's 48-yard field goal attempt was blocked by senior nose guard Jesse Williams.
"Today, we didn't finish some drives, we turned the ball over a couple of times, we didn't get any turnovers on defense," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "But all in all, I thought we blocked pretty well up front and made some plays in the passing game. There are some things we need to get cleaned up."
Coming off shutout wins over Western Kentucky and Arkansas, Alabama hadn't given up a point since the 14-second mark of the third quarter against Michigan on Sept. 1. During that span of 12 quarters, it had scored 134 consecutive points.
Alabama's defense didn't give up any points in the last two games of the 2011 season, either.
Notes: Alabama junior cornerback Dee Milliner played with a brace on his right wrist. It's the same hand/wrist he injured against Michigan and caused him to miss the Western Kentucky game. ... Alabama sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Ivory sustained a sprained ankle in the second half. ... McCarron's streak of attempted passes without an interception reached 176, which trails only Brodie Croyle for the longest in Alabama history (190). ... The Alabama softball team received a standing ovation at halftime when players and coaches received their national championship rings.

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