Lighters went up and puffs of smoke erupted from Bryant-Denny Stadium as soon as A’Shawn Robinson scooped up the fumble Ryan Anderson forced and returned it nine yards to the Tennessee 4-yard line.
The smell of cigars – some even recently legally imported – soon filled the stadium as the offense burned the remaining seconds off the clock in the 19-14 win over the Volunteers.
The fans in the stadium felt it before, namely on three failed field goals from the Vols.
“Everybody was standing because we really needed that,” senior defensive lineman Jarran Reed said.
Standing, jumping, just about everything short of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
For the first two Tennessee drives, Alabama’s defense looked lost. The Vols put up 125 yards and a touchdown in two drives.
The next three Tennessee drives ended in punts. A few Tennessee drives, like the one before halftime, ended in Alabama territory with failed field goals.
Then, with a six-point lead courtesy of two Adam Griffith field goals, Alabama’s defense took the field again.
Joshua Dobbs and the Vols went 75 yards in four plays to reach the end zone and take a 14-13 lead over Alabama with less than six minutes to play. Dobbs finished 13-for-22 with 171 yards and 19 net yards rushing.
“We knew it was going to come down to defense,” senior cornerback Cyrus Jones said. “We knew the offense was going to make plays when they had to. It was just about execution. We executed when the time was needed.”
When the offense gave the defense a five-point lead, the defense came up with a stop with 1:18 left to play. All Alabama had to do was run off the clock.
“I think we made a big statement in that type situation,” Jones said. “It was on us to finish the game off and make the plays when we needed to, and every game is not going to be perfect. You’re not going to execute every play to perfection, but when coming down to the wire, you got to make those plays, and I think we made them.
The defense allowed 303 yards, and the Vols went 7 of 13 on third downs. The Vols had 132 yards rushing and 11 first downs on the ground.
A week before, the defense allowed 316 yards, 284 of which were passing. The defense also had four interceptions against Texas A&M, including three pick-sixes. This week, the defense had three near picks.
Senior linebacker Reggie Ragland had a season-high 12 tackles, including a tackle for loss. Junior linebacker Reuben Foster had 11 tackles, including a sack. He broke up one pass.
The defense had a season-high five sacks for 38 yards and eight tackles for loss (44 yards).
No. 7 Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) has a bye week before facing No. 4 LSU (7-0, 4-0) on at home on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports