AUBURN| The Crimson Tide took the motto, “never again” into the 2011 season after losing 28-27 in last year’s Iron Bowl. Saturday the Tide made true to its words, beating the Auburn Tigers 42-14.
“We knew what was at stake,” quarterback AJ McCarron said. “We had to come out and play our game and that is what we did. We came out with a victory.
The Tide got on the board first in an unusual manner, when quarterback AJ McCarron connected on a 41-yard pass to wide receiver Kenny Bell off of a flea-flicker play.
“That’s a play we called and it was the right time,” McCarron said. “Coach McElwain made a great call. We felt like they were going to give us a certain defense and they did. Kenny [Bell] just went up and made a play for me.”
Brad Smelley would answer next for the Tide, catching a wide-open 35-yard pass and taking it into the end zone. The catch was one of six for the tight end for a total of 86 yards.
“It was huge,” Smelley said. “This was one of the most important games of the year. This game really had a lot riding on it and I’m glad we were able to come out here and do well.”
Auburn capitalized on a McCarron fumble, falling on it in the end zone and scoring its first points of the game. However, Alabama would answer back with 10 points in the second quarter to bring the score to 24-7 heading into halftime. The lead was significant for the Tide, as it was the same lead the team held before last year’s second-half meltdown.
“We sat in the locker room and we asked, ‘how are we going to finish better than we did last year,’” offensive lineman Barrett Jones said. “I think we did a very good job in the second half of just keeping the pedal on and just ending the game.”
Auburn running back put a scare into the hearts of the Tide faithful when he returned the opening kickoff of the second half 83 yards for a touchdown to cut the score to 27-14. However, the Tide, as they did all game, answered back.[The next drive] was real important,” Jones said. “We only got a field goal out of it, but we took a lot of time and reestablished the momentum.”
After that, it was all Alabama as the Tide ran wild against a worn out Auburn defense. Running back Trent Richardson might have put the finishing touches on his Heisman candidacy, as he tallied 203 yards on 27 carries.
“He is a great player,” Jones said. “I don’t get a vote, but if I was voting, I would give it to Trent [Richardson]. He is a great guy, a great player and a great leader.”
Despite the Heisman hype the star running back will certainly receive, Richardson and the Tide remain focused on one thing, a rematch between Alabama and LSU in the BCS National Title.
“[I’m] very hungry for it,” Richardson said. “I speak on the team’s behalf. I didn’t feel like that [LSU] game was over. I can’t wait until we play them. Russell [Sheppard] already called me and told me ‘see you New Orleans’ and I can’t wait to meet him there.”