TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama avenged a 13-point halftime deficit and scored 27 second-half points to down Tennessee, 34-20, on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Tide running back Jase McClellan recorded a 5-yard touchdown run with 3:45 left in the third quarter to give Alabama its first lead of the game, one it would not relinquish.
Despite playing in its home stadium, Alabama was knocked down early. The Volunteers struck first on the contest’s opening drive with former Clay-Chalkville High School star receiver Squirrel White notching a 39-yard touchdown reception.
Tennessee then recorded back-to-back field goals to go ahead 13-0 at the end of the first quarter. The second field goal came after Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe lost the football on a strip sack inside Alabama’s 25-yard line.
Alabama responded with just over seven minutes left in the first half, as receiver Jermaine Burton hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass. Though the Tide were threatening on its next drive, Milroe threw an interception in the end zone. The Volunteers tallied another touchdown right before the half ended and led 20-7.
The Crimson Tide then flipped the script and rolled easily on the first drive of the second half. On the second play, receiver Isaiah Bond registered a 46-yard touchdown catch to cut the Volunteers lead to six points. Alabama kicker Will Reichard notched a 42-yard field goal on the Tide’s next drive before Alabama scored the game-winning touchdown.
With the victory, Alabama is now 7-1 overall and 5-0 in SEC play in 2023.
Defense not perfect but steps up
Despite the Tide surrendering 404 yards, it didn’t allow points in the second half. Considering Tennessee averaged 443.8 offensive yards and 33.5 points per game heading into the game, it was a respectable performance.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, linebacker Jihaad Campbell picked up a fumble off a strip sack and returned it for a 24-yard touchdown to give Alabama a two-possession lead.
Milroe gets the job done
Though throwing for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception doesn’t translate into an elite outing, Milroe was responsible for seven plays of 15-plus yards. Once again, Milroe proved his strong right arm is what the Alabama offense can rely on despite still settling in during his first year starting on a consistent basis.
Offensive line still a work in progress
Alabama allowed four sacks, but that’s what Tennessee was averaging before the contest. The Tide were also tackled behind the line of scrimmage five times.
Still, Alabama’s offensive line held in there and allowed the Tide to record 358 yards, with 138 of those coming on the ground, and 20 first downs. Alabama’s offensive line may not be what it was in previous seasons, but the Tide is winning with what it is.