TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 1-ranked University of Alabama football team used a record-setting day by freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts to beat Mississippi State, 51-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 101,821 Saturday afternoon in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide improved to 10-0 on the season and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play while the Bulldogs fell to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the SEC.
Hurts became the first player in Alabama football’s storied history to throw for 300 yards (347) and rush for 100 yards (100) in the same game. His primary passing target on Saturday afternoon, wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, became the sixth player in UA history to catch three receiving touchdowns in the same game. Stewart ended the day with a 156-yard outing on eight catches.
In addition to Hurts’ 100 yards, which included a touchdown run, running back Josh Jacobs gained 89 yards on nine rushes, averaging 9.9 yards per carry. Kicker Adam Griffith made all three of his field goal attempts, all in the first half, from 28, 30, and 39 yards out. Defensively, 27 different players notched at least one tackle, including six each from linebacker Reuben Foster, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, linebacker Rashaan Evans and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Linebacker Ryan Anderson, linebacker Tim Williams and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis all had sacks that drove the Bulldogs back a combined 29 yards.
Alabama elected to receive to open the game and after beginning on its own 25-yard line, drove to the MSU 12 before Adam Griffith came on and hit a 30-yard field goal to get the scoring going early. Jalen Hurts got the march going with a shovel pass to Stewart who gained 13 yards. Damien Harris followed with a three-yard rush before tight end O.J. Howard picked up the Tide’s second first down in three plays with a seven-yard catch. Stewart caught 13 yard reception for another first down on the following place before Harris ran for an additional four yards. Hurts picked up wide receiver Calvin Ridley on a crossing pattern good for a chunk of 20 yards to the MSU 15. The Tide managed three more yards on a pair of rushes, bringing on Griffith.
After picking up a first down on its first play from scrimmage on an 11-yard pass from Nick Fitzgerald to Farrod Green, Alabama stymied to the Bulldog offense, including an 11-yard sack of Fitzgerald by Tim Williams to bring up fourth down.
A short punt by Mississippi State set Alabama up on the MSU 32-yard line, where Hurts went to work, rushing nine yards on first down. Hurts then hit Howard for 14 yards to the Bulldog nine-yard line, which became the four-yard line following a personal foul by MSU. From there, after rushing for no gain on first down, Hurts passed to Ridley in the right flat for the touchdown which was followed by a made point after attempt by Griffith. Within its first two possessions, Alabama scored twice, to go up 10-0 with 8:23 left in the quarter.
After two incompletions to start its second offensive series, Fitzgerald found Donald Gray on the sideline for a 41-yard gain. After three more plays picked up no yardage, a 47-yard kick went wide right, turning the ball over to the Tide on the UA 31.
After Hurts completed back-to-back passes to Harris (11 yards) and Cam Sims (six yards), his third throw of the drive went deep and was intercepted by Jamoral Graham, who returned it 46 yards to the UA 38 where he was stopped by Ridley.
A delay of game penalty on the Bulldogs moved the start of the drive back to the UA 43 yard line. A pair of rushing attempts moved the ball seven yards before a pair of incomplete passes turned the ball back over to Alabama on downs at the UA 36-yard line.
The Tide’s fourth possession of the quarter ended with its first punt of the game. Alabama picked up nine yards before JK Scott boomed a 54-yard punt into the end zone for a touchback with 1:07 left in the quarter.
Two runs by Fitzgerald gained no yards to end the first quarter.
Mississippi State started the second quarter on its own 20-yard line. Fitzgerald opened the second period with an 11-yard completion on a crossing pattern to the MSU 31. The Bulldogs could only muster two more yards before punting the ball away.
The Tide needed just two plays on its next possession to reach the end zone. The first was an incomplete pass intended for Hurts. The second was a complete shovel pass from Hurts to Stewart, who streaked down the field 61 yards, running right past would-be tacklers on the way to the score. Griffith’s point after attempt was again good and Alabama went up 17-0 with 12:36 left in the half.
Mississippi State used a 50-yard kickoff return by Brandon Holloway to set up on the UA 45 to start its next drive. The Bulldogs quickly moved to a first down at the UA 33 in its first two plays before stalling out on four-straight incomplete passes by Fitzgerald.
After taking over the ball on downs, Alabama moved the ball 70 yards before Griffith hit another field goal to put Alabama up 24-0 with 9:55 left in the half. Hurts completed a crossing pass to Stewart for a pickup of 24 to the MSU 42-yard line. Josh Jacobs then rushed for 12 yards to a first down at the MSU 30 before Jacobs took a Hurts’ pass 26 yards to the MSU four. From there, Hurts raced around the right end to the front pylon for his 11th rushing touchdown of the year. Griffith’s kick was good and Alabama led 24-0 with 9:55 left in the half.
After Fitzgerald rushed five yards to open the Bulldog drive, Aeris Williams ran the ball six more yards for a first down at the MSU 36. Two more rushes and a seven-yard slant pass from Fitzgerald to Green gave State another first down, this time on the its own 47. Three straight rushes by Williams gained six yards and brought out the Bulldogs’ punting unit that sent the ball 31 yards to the UA 17.
After running the ball twice for seven yards to start the drive, Hurts picked up a first down on his third consecutive run after racing 60 yards to the MSU 16 on third down. Alabama moved to the 10-yard line before Griffith came out and hit his third field goal, this one from 28 yards out, to put Alabama ahead 27-0 with 2:37 left in the half.
Mississippi State went three-and-out on its next drive, giving the ball back to Alabama on its 36 yard line with 2:09 left until the half.
Alabama closed the half by moving the ball 43 yards to the MSU 21, where Griffith came out and hit his fourth field goal of game, a 39-yard kick, to move the score to 30-0 as the half ended. The Tide mixed two rushes in with 10 passes on the drive, highlighted by a 10-yard Hurts to Jacobs completion to the MSU 49 that kept the drive going.
Mississippi State started the second half with its first score of the game, a 47-yard field goal by Westin Graves. The Bulldogs moved 46 yards, mainly on the strength of back-to-back passes from Fitzgerald to Gray, the first going for 11 yards and the second for 24. Williams added another four yards rushing before Alabama’s Ryan Anderson sacked Fitzgerald for a loss of 10 yards which was followed by an incomplete pass on third down, bringing out the MSU field goal unit. The kick made the score 30-3 with 11:43 left in the third quarter.
Alabama picked up 30 yards on its next drive before a fumble by Hurts recovered by State’s Mark McLaurin turned the ball back over to the Bulldogs. A 22-yard rush by Fitzgerald highlighted the Bulldogs’ next drive, which stalled on the UA 42-yard line, forcing another MSU punt, which went 26 yards to the UA 16-yard line.
Jacobs rushed 43 yards to open Alabama’s second drive of the second half. A facemask penalty on the Bulldogs tacked on 15 more yards, setting the Tide up with a first down on the MSU 26. Hurts rushed over left end for 11 yards to the MSU 15 before hitting Stewart for 15 yards and a touchdown on the next play. Following Griffith’s extra point, Alabama led, 37-3, with 6:12 left in the third quarter.
State followed Alabama’s first score of the second half with a three-and-out, which gave Alabama the ball back on the UA 42 with 5:35 left in the quarter. Hurts opened the drive with a 30-yard completion to Howard, and followed that with an eight-yard completion to Cam Sims. Hurts connected with Stewart for the duo’s third touchdown of the game, a 20-yard strike. The point after by Griffith gave Alabama a 44-3 lead with 4:40 left in the quarter.
State and Alabama traded punts on the next two possessions. The Bulldogs closed out the quarter with three plays that brought them to midfield, including a 24-yard rush by Williams and a three-yard run by Malik Dear on a draw play. Dear opened the fourth quarter with a 22-yard reception from Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald then threw a sideline pass that was intercepted by Alabama cornerback Tony Brown that was returned nine yards to the UA 24 where Gray got the stop. Jacobs rushed the ball three consecutive times after the interception to move the ball 21 yards. From there, Derrick Gore ran the ball three times for four yards to the UA 49 before Scott punted 38 yards to the MSU 13-yard line.
State had one of its most extensive drives of the game, covering 12 plays and 49 yards while eating 4:49 off the clock. Damian Williams came on at quarterback, hitting Jamal Couch for seven yards and Gabe Myles for five yards. Following an incompletion, Damian Williams hit Dontavian Lee for five yards and Couch for a pickup of 14 yards down to the MSU 44. After another incompletion, Damian Williams gained 11 yards on back-to-back rushes. A Damian Williams pass to Justin Johnson picked up five yards, then two rushes by Dontavian Lee picked up two yards before MSU turned the ball over on downs following an incomplete pass on fourth-and-three.
With Cooper Bateman in at quarterback, Alabama started its last scoring drive on the UA 39 with a 31-yard pass play that was complete to Cam Sims. That was followed by a 14-yard Bateman to Derek Kief pickup that took the ball to the MSU 16. Gore then rushed for two yards and Ronnie Clark gained nine yards on two straight carries to set up first-and-goal at the MSU five-yard line. From there Trevon Diggs took a Bateman shovel pass to the house, scoring from five yards out. Andy Pappanastos came on and made the extra point, pushing Alabama ahead 51-3 with 2:34 left in the game.
The Bulldogs could not move the ball on their final possession, giving the ball back to Alabama with 1:02 left in the game, when Ronnie Clark rushed twice for five yards to close out the game.
Alabama returns to action next Saturday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. CT against Southern Conference foe Chattanooga.