TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There was a sense of relief for the University of Alabama defense on Saturday night.
It’s wasn’t because Alabama held an SEC opponent out of the end zone, it did that last week as well at Vanderbilt. Instead, it ended the long drought of having posted no points on the scoreboard.
You laugh, but the Crimson Tide are serious about it. Alabama had gone four whole games without having scored a non-offensive touchdown and it was starting to grind on the players.
The drought finally came to an end when former walk-on cornerback Levi Wallace picked off Ole Miss quarterback Shae Patterson and 35 yards later triumphantly reached the end zone to end the Crimson Tide’s ordeal.
“It felt great,” Wallace said about his first career touchdown. “We’ve been wanting to do that all week. All the DBs talk about it, saying how no one on the team has gotten a pick-six yet. I’m just glad that I was in the position to get the interception, and then I had great blockers in front of me. It’s the whole team effort that helped me get into the end zone.”
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) October 1, 2017
Although the game ended up being a 66-3 blowout, both sides pointed to the pick-six as being the most telling play of the game. It occurred just after Alabama’s offense plowed through the Ole Miss defense to open the scoring. With 9:20 left to play in the first quarter, it was already clear that the Rebels were in for a long night.
Ole Miss had just 14 total yards compared to Alabama’s 14 points.
“That was a big momentum shift for sure,” Alabama sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts said.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s offense scored every time it touched the ball minus four. It punted twice, ran out the clock at the end of the game and had a missed field goal.
The Crimson Tide also extended their streak of not losing a turnover to 34 quarters. It’s the only team in the nation that hasn’t had one yet.
Alabama is now the only team in the entire NCAA (all 3 divisions) without a turnover
— Jordan Fiegel (@JGFiegel) October 1, 2017
The only fumble occurred on the second-quarter punt return sophomore Trevon Diggs suffered a foot injury, with freshman Najee Harris recovering.
Hurts completed 12-of-19 attempts for 197 passing yards and two touchdowns, to go with 10 carries for 101 yards and another score. He’s now attempted 169 passes without an interception, dating back to the first half of the Auburn game (Nov. 24, 2016).
It’s the third longest in school history, and second longest of the Saban era (since 2007).
- AJ McCarron, 2011-12 291
- Brodie Croyle, 2005 190
- Jalen Hurts, 2016-17 169
- Jay Barker, 1993-94 155
- AJ McCarron, 2011 152
Overall, Alabama’s offense has executed 570 plays without turning the ball over.
Alabama came into the weekend +8 in turnover margin, which was tied for first in the SEC and third nationally. It improved to +10 thanks to a second interception by Wallace in the second half.
Alabama scored 15 non-offensive touchdowns last season, including six following interceptions and five on fumble returns, which were the most in a season by a FBS team in the last 20 years.
Wallace’s score was also the 60 th non-offensive touchdown of the Saban era at Alabama (since 2007).
“Defensive touchdowns, we focused on it, we talked about it a lot,” Wallace said. “We want to be even better (than last year). “We want more turnovers, we want more touchdowns.”
The post Alabama football re-establishing itself as turnovers kings, and not just on defense appeared first on SEC Country.
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