TUSCALOOSA—Leading by three on the scoreboard, Alabama was in a tight contest for the second straight game at the half, but once the second half kick left Andres Carlson’s foot, the Crimson …
TUSCALOOSA—Leading by three on the scoreboard, Alabama was in a tight contest for the second straight game at the half, but once the second half kick left Andres Carlson’s foot, the Crimson Tide’s offense played the way it has all year, putting up 35 points in the second half, leading to a 52-21 Iron Bowl win against rival Auburn.
The key to the offensive spark was quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa, who had thrown for 116 yards and missed just six passes, was on fire to start the second half. He completed all but one of his second-half passes, throwing for 208 yards and four touchdowns in the second half alone.
“He was outstanding,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think it was really important that we had two big plays to start the second half. We scored really quickly, and I think that changed the game quite a bit.”
On Alabama’s opening drive of the second half, Tagovailoa threw two passes before hitting receiver Jerry Jeudy for a 46-yard score. Three minutes and two passes later, the sophomore hit running back Josh Jacobs for a 33-yard touchdown.
Overall, Tagovailoa threw for five touchdowns, which ties the Alabama single-game record, and ran for the team’s only rushing touchdown.
In the third quarter alone, Alabama gained 213 yards of offense and 21 points. Auburn finished the game with 283 yards of total offense.
“We just wanted to turn it up a notch and prove that we can score,” Jacobs said. “We just had to come out and execute.”
While the third quarter was huge for the Crimson Tide, it was detrimental for the Tigers.
Auburn went three-and-out following the first Alabama touchdown of the quarter. Alabama scored on its next drive, putting the Tide up 31-14.
Auburn drove nearly the length of the field before failing on a fourth down attempt.
“They got the momentum back,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “I thought at the end of the second quarter, it felt like we had the momentum, and I think we went down a couple scores, and they scored again and got the momentum back. The crowd got back in the game. I think we had two drives in the whole third quarter, or three. We didn’t have much yardage, and they got the ball back and it snowballed after that.”
Auburn gained 84 yards in the quarter, 52 of which came when quarterback Jarrett Stidham hit Darius Slayton for the lone second-half score. It was also held to negative two yards rushing in the quarter.
Defensively the Crimson Tide was thorough. Besides its touchdown drives, Auburn gained just 127 yards. Stidham threw for 127 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception to outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings, who snatched the ball out of the air around midfield.
Alabama faces Georgia in the SEC Championship next week in the rematch of the National Championship.
“That’s going to be crazy, but I mean we’re going to have a good week of practice,” Jennings said. “We’re going to get our minds right, get our bodies right, refocus and go out there and do what we do.”