Saturday, September 22, 2018
Sports

Another defensive score sparks Tide

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When Alabama couldn't shake Texas A&M in a battle of unbeaten Top 10 teams, it was Jonathan Allen's scoop-and-score defensive touchdown that effectively brushed aside the latest would-be challenger.

What else?

A star defensive end, Allen returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds of the third quarter to help Alabama beat the sixth-ranked Aggies 33-14 Saturday. The Crimson Tide has scored on defense or special teams in 10 straight games, a streak as impressive as its 20 straight wins.

Alabama moved on as the powerhouse league's last unbeaten team in part thanks to Allen. He scooped up the ball after Ryan Anderson knocked it loose from Keith Ford to finally build a cushion over the Aggies, who led 14-13 well into the third.

"You know you don't think about it," Allen said. "It's all reaction. We just train ourselves to pick up all loose balls in practices and it's good to see it happening in the game."

It's happening again and again.

The score was 20-14 when Allen pushed Alabama's season total of defensive or special teams scores to 12. Allen has scored twice on fumble returns.

"I think that was the real turning point in the game, because it changed the momentum of the game," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Those plays are always huge in games, but that one was especially huge."

The Tide, however, sustained a big loss when safety Eddie Jackson was injured in the fourth quarter and didn't come back after a punt return. Saban said Jackson, a senior and team leader, is out for the season with a broken leg.

Alabama's freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts then galloped 37 yards for another score, stepping out of a defender's grasp and making a nifty move to get past another. The Tide was rolling again, a powerful encore to easy wins over ranked Tennessee and Arkansas teams.

The Aggies seemed poised to put up the biggest fight, with a defense that kept the pressure on Hurts and a handful of big runs by quarterback Trevor Knight. Then Allen and Anderson changed that in an instant. Costly penalties hurt the Aggies, too, including a roughing the passer penalty to keep Alabama's go-ahead touchdown drive going earlier in the third.

"You really have five minutes in the game that determined what happened," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We extended the drive with the roughing the passer, then we extended the drive again, I think it was an offsides. So you back that up with a fumble returned for a touchdown in a game like this, against a team like that, that can't happen."

NO. 21 AUBURN 56, NO. 17 ARKANSAS 3: Eli Stove broke free for a 78-yard touchdown run on the host Tigers' first play, giving them momentum they never lost in a surprisingly dominant victory.

Auburn held out starting running back Kerryon Johnson and still ran for 543 yards, a school record for a conference regular-season game. With former star Bo Jackson watching, Kamryn Pettway had 192 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Johnson ran well in pregame warmups but did not play after hurting his right ankle against Mississippi State on Oct. 8.

Auburn has won four straight.

The Tigers held the Razorbacks to 215 total yards, including 25 rushing. Rawleigh Williams ran for 22 yards a week after he had a career-high 180 in a 34-30 win over Mississippi.

"We played a complete game," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Holding that group to 25 yards rushing was really unbelievable."

S.C. 34, UMASS 28: The Gamecocks offense finally opened things up. Freshman quarterback Jake Bentley was a big reason why.

Bentley threw for two touchdowns and 201 yards in his first college game to lead host South Carolina, which set a season high for points.

"We just really opened up the playbook when Jake was back there, because we know he can throw it very well," said receiver Deebo Samuel, who had eight catches for 106 yards.

MTSU 51, MIZZOU 45: Middle Tennessee had 584 total yards and made a key fourth-down stop with less than a minute left, handing the Tigers their first home loss to a non-Power Five team since joining the SEC in 2012. Missouri also allowed its most points ever in a homecoming game. The Blue Raiders beat an SEC team for the fourth time in 26 tries.

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