TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 1-ranked University of Alabama football team beat Chattanooga, 31-3, on Saturday evening in front of a Bryant-Denny Stadium sellout crowd of 101,821.
Alabama freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts was 15-of-21 passing for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Tide sophomore wide receiver Calvin Ridley caught seven passes for 94 yards and a touchdown; senior wide receiver Gerhig Dieter caught three passes, with two going for touchdowns; and sophomore running back Damien Harris ran for 91 yards and touchdown to lead all rushers.
Defensively, sophomore defensive back Ronnie Harrison led the Tide with 11 tackles, including eight solo stops. Senior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and senior linebacker Reuben Foster both notched two tackles for loss.
The victory set a record for Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who earned his 41st win while directing the nation’s top-ranked team at the Capstone. Saban’s Tide teams have won 41 of 46 games when ranked number one. Also, the 46 games coaching the nation’s top-ranked squad ties Saban for that total with Ohio State legend Woody Hayes.
Alabama won the toss and chose to receive the opening kickoff. Hurts opened up the game with a 23-yard pass to Ridley, followed by a rush over right end for 20 yards to the UTC 34-yard line. From that point, the Tide moved back five yards on two plays followed by an incomplete pass, bringing out punter JK Scott who kicked a 39-yard punt.
The Mocs alternated between passing and rushing on its first five plays from scrimmage, including a 31-yard pass from Alejandro Bennifield to C.J. Board. Chattanooga moved to the UA 25 before an illegal formation penalty moved them back to the 30. Following the penalty, an incomplete pass brought out the Mocs’ field goal unit on fourth down. Colin Brewer converted the 47-yard attempt to put Chattanooga up 3-0 with 7:08 left in the first quarter.
A seven-yard completion from Hurts to tight end O.J. Howard was the highlight of the Tide’s second drive, which ended with a 46-yard punt by Scott. Starting its second drive on its own 19, Chattanooga passed for three yards before running back Richardre Bagley ran 13 yards for a first down. After a Bennifield to Bagley pass lost a yard, running back Derrick Craine rushed seven yards to the UTC 41. Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson combined to put the Mocs’ drive to bed, stopping a Bennifield quarterback draw for no gain, bringing up fourth down and punter Colin Brewer, whose kick went 34 yards before being downed on the UA 25.
Alabama picked up six yards on its first play from scrimmage on a Hurts rush, followed by another two-yard run by Harris and a first down when Hurts slashed for five yards over left end to the UA 38. Hurts then threw to Ridley for a three-yard gain. Harris closed the first quarter with an eight-yard rush to a first down at the UA 49.
Hurts started the second quarter with a four-yard rush on a quarterback draw before unloading a 47-yard bomb to Ridley in the end zone for Alabama’s first score of the night. Placekicker Adam Griffith’s extra-point attempt was good and, with 14:21 left in the second quarter, Alabama went up, 7-3.
Chattanooga and Alabama both went three-and-out, but Alabama’s punt went 45 yards to the UTC eight-yard line, where Board fumbled when his own blocker backed into him and UA linebacker Keaton Anderson recovered on the Mocs’ nine-yard line. On first down, Hurts rushed eight yards to the UTC one before he and Harris rushed for no gain on consecutive plays, bring up fourth-and-goal at the one. Going for it on fourth down, Hurts passed complete to wide receiver Gehrig Dieter in the end zone for a touchdown. After another point-after by Griffith, Alabama led, 14-3, with 8:44 left in the first half.
The Mocs moved the ball 25 yards in six plays on the next drive, with Craine picking up 12 yards on back-to-back rushes before Bennifield passed complete to tight end Malcolm Colvin for 11 yards and UTC’s second first down of the drive. The Tide shut down the Mocs after that. Brewer punted 43 yards to the UA 12, where the Tide’s Trevon Diggs returned the punt 14 yards to the UA 26.
The Tide managed 11 yards on four plays before a 56-yard punt by Scott and a 10-yard return by Board set up Chattanooga on its 17-yard line. Chattanooga managed 19 yards on five plays on its last drive of the half. Alabama had enough time for one offensive play before the first half came to an end.
At the half, Hurts had completed eight passes on 10 attempts, throwing for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Hurts also led all rushers with 33 yards. Ridley led all receivers with five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. For UTC, Bennifield was 12-of-15 passing for 89 yards while Board led the UTC receiving corps with 53 yards on three catches. Craine had 19 yards on seven rushes to lead the Mocs on the ground.
Chattanooga started the second half with an eight-play, 34-yard drive that ate up the first five minutes of the third quarter. But that march ended with a punt. The Tide came away with 19 yards on six plays in 1:15 on its first drive of the second half before Scott punted 52 yards.
The Mocs went three-and-out on their next drive, giving Alabama the ball on its 39-yard line. The Tide opened the drive with three Harris rushes in the first four plays, capped by a 25-yard touchdown rush by Harris with 4:07 left in the quarter. Andy Pappanastos’ extra-point attempt was true, putting the Tide ahead, 21-3.
The Mocs moved the ball 11 yards on their next possession before Brewer punted 25 yards to the UA 39. Three straight rushes opened Alabama’s last drive of the third quarter, including a 34-yard pickup by Hurts. Alabama ended the third quarter with an incomplete pass, the same way it started the fourth quarter, setting up a 33-yard field goal attempt that Pappanastos sent through the uprights, moving Alabama to a 24-3 lead with 14:48 left in the fourth quarter.
Chattanooga went three-and-out on its first possession of the fourth quarter, giving Alabama the ball on the UA 44. But the Tide was moved back to the UA 34 following an illegal block penalty. Alabama was driving downfield when UTC forced a fumble that was recovered by Mocs linebacker Dale Warren at the UTC 31.
Another three-and-out negated any advantage Chattanooga might have gained from the turnover, and Alabama took over on its 27 with 8:06 left in the game. The Tide returned the ball to UTC after a three-and-out of its own. Starting on its 18 with 5:32 left in the final period, UTC gave up the ball with a fumble of its own, recovered by Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans at the UTC 20.
It took Alabama four plays to cover 20 yards for a score when Hurts found Dieter for his second one-yard touchdown catch of the game. After Pappanastos hit the extra point, Alabama led, 31-3, with 3:45 on the clock. Chattanooga went three-and-out on its final possession before Alabama ran out the clock on its final drive.
Alabama returns to action Saturday, November 26, against Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT and the Tide’s final regular season game will be televised nationally by CBS.