01 November 2008
Mark Ingram, Glen Coffee, and Roy Upchurch combined at tailback for 199 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, and a stifling Alabama defense scored a touchdown of its own and held Arkansas St. to 158 total yards Saturday, as Alabama cruised to an easy 35-0 win over Red Wolves. It was homecoming in Tuscaloosa, and the alumni enjoyed a relatively leisurely four quarters in which the home team clearly had the visitors outgunned.
The opening drives set the tone for a game in which Arkansas State's offense showed intermittent flashes of brief success that could never be put together into anything meaningful and in which Alabama's offense methodically ground out enough to crush the less physical visitors. Arkansas State received the first half kickoff, chalked up a single first down, and punted. Alabama responded with a punishing 16-play, 90-yard march that featured only two plays of double-digit yardage and no play gaining more than 15 yards, culminating in a nine-yard TD burst from Glen Coffee.
After a pair of fruitless possessions from each team, an Ali Sharrief blitz forced ASU quarterback Corey Leonard to unload downfield. Rashad Johnson stepped in front of the pass, slipped through the receiver's grasp, and sprinted down the left sideline on a 32-yard scoring jaunt that gave the Tide the two-touchdown lead they took to halftime.
The second half was more Alabama, as the Tide opened the stanza with a quick ground strike. After John Parker Wilson found Travis McCall for six yards on the first second-half play from scrimmage, Mark Ingram, who led all rushers with 11 carries for 108 yards and two scores, reeled off back-to-back runs of 30 and 12 yards. On the next play, Roy Upchurch capped the four-play, 70-yard drive with a 22-yard scoring ramble down the left sideline. Later in the quarter, Ingram finished a 7-play, 48-yard drive with a five-yard plunge up the middle and a dive over the stripe to make it 28-0 entering the fourth. Another Ingram touchdown run, this one from 17 yards out with 4:37 left on the clock, established the final score.
Arkansas State never crossed the Alabama 35-yard-line. The Red Wolves' sole trip to that yard marker occurred midway through the fourth quarter, but their first-and-ten on the Bama 35 quickly turned sour, as three Bama sacks of Leonard led to the visitors turning the ball over on downs on their own 45, setting the Tide up for its final scoring drive.
Alabama quarterback Wilson passed accurately but struggled overall, or it might have been worse for the visitors. Wilson repeatedly threw into heavy coverage and showed little creativity against a Wolves' pass rush that only sporadically menaced him. On the game, he hit 15-28 for 152 yards, no TDs, and a pick, and was sacked twice. His chief target was once again Julio Jones, who hauled in five passes for 63 yards.
Rashad Johnson led the dominating Tide defense with 13 individual stops, including several running-play tackles on short gains, a pass break-up, and the pick six. As has frequently been true this season, Alabama was flagged for significantly less penalty yardage than its opponent, 33 yards to Arkansas State's 73 yards.