STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Alabama Crimson Tide posted a 24-7 victory on Saturday night over the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium to move to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Bulldogs dip to 5-5 on the season and 1-5 versus league foes.
Junior running back Trent Richardson notched his seventh 100-plus rushing yard game of the season, finishing with a game-high 127 yards on the ground. Richardson’s performance against the Bulldogs moved him into Alabama’s top 10 in career rushing attempts as well as its single-season rushing yards list. Sophomore running back Eddie Lacy also had a big game, finishing with 96 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.
The Tide defense was led by junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who recorded 11 total tackles, including three for loss, and 1.5 sacks for a loss of nine yards. Senior safety Mark Barron added nine total tackles, five of which were solo.
It was a battle of the defenses in the opening quarter as both teams went three-and-out on their first two drives. Sophomore Cade Foster would attempt a 49-yard field goal on the Tide’s third drive of the game, which went wide right.
A fumble on the punt attempt by the Bulldogs gave Alabama prime field position heading into the second quarter with the line of scrimmage set at the Mississippi State 31. From there, the Tide drove the ball down to the 14 behind a 16-yard pass from sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron to sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell, and a one-yard rush from Richardson, but a 31-yard field goal attempt by junior place kicker Jeremy Shelley was wide left, leaving the game scoreless with 14:45 remaining in the half.
Later in the quarter, Alabama would get on the board with a five play, 52-yard drive, capped off by a two-yard run by Lacy. Shelley would tack on the point-after attempt to give the Tide a 7-0 lead at the 9:59 mark of the quarter.
The Bulldogs first entered Alabama territory late in the second, stringing together a 62-yard drive over 11 plays to pull within field-goal range. But a 41-yard attempt was no good.
On the ensuing play, McCarron’s pass, intended for junior tight end Michael Williams, was intercepted by Mississippi State junior linebacker Cameron Lawrence and brought back to the Alabama 4-yard line. The Tide defense held strong, forcing the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal attempt, which sailed right of the uprights.
The shutout against Mississippi State in the first half marked the 13th time in the last 14 games that Alabama has allowed seven points or less over the opening 30 minutes of the game.
Following halftime, a 24-yard field goal by Shelley at the end of an eight play, 73-yard drive gave Alabama a 10-0 lead with 7:32 to play in the third quarter. The Tide added another touchdown at the 13:39 mark of the quarter on a two-yard run by Richardson.
Mississippi State put up its first points of the game with 12-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Russell to junior wide receiver Chris Smith to open the fourth quarter, setting the score at 17-7 with 11:54 remaining on the clock. Alabama would strike one final time with a 32-yard touchdown run from Lacy and a successful extra-point from Shelley to put the Tide on top 24-7.
Next up, Alabama will host its final home game of the 2011 season when it welcomes Georgia Southern to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, November 19. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT.
Release and Photo Courtesy UA Athletics