TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama’s top-ranked football team (4-0) shutout Kent State (1-3), 48-0, before a capacity crowd of 101,821 on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium on the campus of The University of Alabama. A strong start by the Crimson Tide quickly ended any question about the outcome as Alabama racked up a 21-0 lead after one quarter and led, 41-0, at halftime.
Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts accounted for 218 total yards on the day, passing for 164 yards and rushing for 54 yards. Tide wide receiver Cam Sims had a career-best four catches for 54 yards while tight end O.J. Howard caught three passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Trevon Diggs caught three passes for 23 yards and Derek Kief had three catches for 17 yards as 12 Alabama players caught at least one pass and nine players had at least one rushing attempt in the game. Freshman running back Joshua Jacobs rushed for 97 yards on 11 attempts and scored two touchdowns. B.J. Emmons rushed for 51 yards on eight carries. Bo Scarbrough gained 19 yards on three carries in limited action due to an injury. Damien Harris also left the game with an injury after gaining 19 yards on four attempts.
Overall, the Tide gained 502 yards (217 passing and 285 rushing), picked up 26 first downs, and averaged 6.3 yards per play. Kent State totaled 166 yards (84 passing and 82 rushing), along with converting five first downs and averaging 3.6 yards per play. The Golden Flashes’ George Bollas completed four of eight passes for 71 yards.
Tide linebacker Reuben Foster recorded a team-best seven total tackles, including two solos. As a unit, the Tide defense had three quarterback sacks, five tackles for loss, forced one fumble and was credited with six quarterback hurries.
Alabama punter JK Scott averaged 49.0 yards on two punts, including a long of 53. Placekicker Adam Griffith connected on both field goal attempts, connecting from 28 and 48 yards.
Alabama asserted its dominance quickly, taking the opening kickoff and driving 70 yards in eight plays to get on the scoreboard less than three minutes into the game. Hurts took a quarterback keeper around right end for 20 yards and a touchdown to give the Tide the early 7-0 lead following Griffith’s point-after kick. Alabama led, 7-0, with 12:14 left in the first quarter. Hurts rushed three times for 41 yards on the march.
KSU answered with a scoring threat of its own on the ensuing possession. After a touchback on the kickoff, KSU began at its 25. Rankin took a handoff at right tackle on the first play and broke free for a 47-yard run to the Tide 28. Three plays netted seven more yards, setting up a 37-yard field goal attempt by Hynes, which was no good and wide right, keeping the Alabama lead at 7-0.
The Tide marched to another touchdown on the next drive. Starting at its own 21, the Tide moved 79 yards in 10 plays to a score. Jacobs gained 16 on a run at left end to the Tide 37 on the first play. A pass to tight end O.J. Howard netted eight more to the 45. Jacobs rushed for 10 over right end to the Kent State 45. Facing second-and-15 at the 50, Hurts passed to Cam Sims for eight yards to the KSU 42. After a Bo Scarbrough rush gained six to the KSU 36, the Tide faced fourth-and-one. Scarbrough gained the first down on a four-yard rush to the 32. Then, Hurts passed to Sims for 31 yards to the KSU one-yard line. Jacobs took it in from there on a one-yard rush at right guard for the touchdown. Griffith’s conversion kick made it 14-0 for Alabama with 5:54 left in the first period.
Alabama’s offense notched its third touchdown in its first three drives of the game following another KSU punt on the next possession. The Tide moved 55 yards in four plays this time on a march keyed by an 18-yard pass from Hurts to Howard to the KSU 30 and ending on a 24-yard run by Jacobs for the touchdown. Griffith’s kick gave the Tide a 21-0 lead with 3:39 left in the opening period.
The Tide offense was on the march again as the first quarter drew to a close. Alabama drove 75 yards in 16 plays to a field goal after another KSU punt. Hurts passed for 17 yards to B.J. Emmons on the second play of the drive to the Tide 33. Later, Jacobs gained 15 on a rush at left end on a third down play to set up the Tide at the KSU 29. Three plays later, from the KSU 11, Griffith nailed a 28-yard field goal to give Alabama a 24-0 lead with 12:45 left in the half.
Tide cornerback Anthony Averett set up Alabama’s next score by forcing a fumble at the KSU 24 on the first play of the ensuing possession. Tide safety Ronnie Harrison recovered the loose ball at the KSU 24 and Blake Barnett entered the game at quarterback for Alabama. Three plays later, from the KSU 31, Griffith connected on a 48-yard field goal to give the Tide a 27-0 lead with 11:34 on the clock.
Alabama extended the lead on its next drive, moving 61 yards in five plays to a touchdown. Barnett completed all three pass attempts on the march, hitting Ridley for five yards on the first play, Jacobs for 15 yards three plays later, and capping the drive with a 34-yard pass across the middle to Howard, who took it in for the touchdown. Griffith’s point-after kick was good, giving the Tide a 34-0 lead with 6:47 left in the half.
After another KSU possession failed to advance, Alabama’s Xavian Marks took Derek Adams’ 40-yard punt at the Tide 25 and weaved through excellent blocking for 75 yards and a touchdown. Andy Pappanastos’ point-after kick gave the Tide a 41-0 lead with 2:14 left in the half. The return marked the sixth consecutive game that Alabama has scored a non-offensive touchdown (a school record) and the sixth such touchdown this season (the 52nd under head coach Nick Saban). Adding in a blocked punt for a safety in last year’s SEC Championship Game win over Florida, Alabama has posted a non-offensive score in seven consecutive games.
The Tide’s dominance of the first half was evident in every statistical metric. The Tide had 18 first downs to KSU’s two; outgained KSU in total offense 352 to 53; ran 50 offensive plays to KSU’s 24; outrushed KSU 177-43; had a 175-10 edge in passing yardage; and held KSU to 0-for-7 in third down conversions.
Alabama kicked off to begin the second half. JK Scott’s kick sailed out of the end zone, setting up KSU at its 25. The Golden Flashes were forced to punt again, so the Tide took over at its 34 after Marks’ eight-yard punt return. Hurts completed six-of-seven passes on the drive for 43 yards on the 13-play, 66-yard drive that consumed 6:17 of game time. The drive was capped by Hurts passing one yard to fullback Mack Wilson for the touchdown, the first catch of Wilson’s career. Pappanastos kicked the extra point to give Alabama a 48-0 lead with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
KSU put together its most impressive drive of the day in a march that spanned the end of the third period and the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The Golden Flashes moved 73 yards in 11 plays to the Tide one-yard line. The march ended in futility when, on fourth-and-goal at the Tide seven-yard line, Bollas scrambled to what was originally ruled a touchdown as he dove for the pylon in the front left corner of the end zone. But an official replay review revealed the Bollas was knocked out of bounds short of the end zone by Tide linebacker Christian Miller. Miller’s stop preserved the shutout for Alabama with 10:21 on the clock.
The shutout held, and Alabama’s reserves played out the rest of the quarter to end a 48-0 victory, the 17th shutout victory for the Tide in the Nick Saban coaching era and Alabama’s 95th shutout win since 1958.