ATLANTA — After Florida State running back Jacques Patrick gained 13-yards on the ground, the Alabama defense put its foot in the ground. The Crimson Tide allowed five-yards the next play followed by two-straight incompletions by quarterback Deondre Francois. Then, the unpredictable happened.
Alabama running back Damien Harris, who rushed for over 1,000-yards last year, came off the edge and blocked Florida State punter Logan Tyler’s punt, setting up a first and goal for Alabama in the Florida State 10. The Crimson Tide would add a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Florida State wide receiver Keith Gavan fumbled, forced by freshman Dylan Moses, recovered by linebacker Keith Holcombe. Alabama would score on the next play and convert a two-point conversion, scoring 11 points in 2:36.
“Special teams were really big. That’s usually the difference in every game,” defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne said.
The Crimson Tide defense dominated the second half, allowing Florida State to run just 17 plays.
“I think we just did a good job on focusing on what we needed to do as individuals,” Payne said. “Just flying around to the ball and doing their job…. I think in the second half we just tried to calm down and play our game…. We did a good job as a whole, but there’s still room for improvement.”
The Seminoles couldn’t get the running game off the ground, rushing for just 16 rushing yards on 12 attempts for an 1.3 average in the second half. Overall FSU finished with 40 yards on 27 attempts.
“I think the combination of them only making one explosive play in the game and their inability to consistently run the ball was probably something that was a real benefit to us,” coach Nick Saban said. “Early in the game, they were moving the ball against us because they were running it three, four, five yards. We were getting in 3rd and 3, 3rd and 2. Our plan was to try to pressure the quarterback, could never do it in those situations. So, we started creating more negative circumstances on 1st and 2nd down, which put us in a better position on 3rd down. When we got into that rhythm, I think we played a little better on defense.”
Francois went just five of 11 in the second half for 49 yards. He also threw two interceptions, the first by Levi Wallace. He was also sacked twice (three times total).
“We knew he was a really good quarterback,” linebacker Shawn Dion Hamilton said. “We tried our best to get after him play after play. He started wearing down…. If you are human, you aren’t going to like someone teeing off on you.”
Wallace, the former walk-on, had his best game as a member of the Crimson Tide. He finished with his first career interception, two tackles and a pass break-up.
“Levi has been doing that for a while, since he started playing,” Payne said. “I love seeing him out there.”
Shawn Deion Hamilton made his return since tearing his ACL in the SEC Championship game against Florida last year just 83 feet away in the Georgia Dome. He finished with a team leading eight total tackles (five unassisted and three assisted), 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Alabama hosts Colorado State on Sept. 9 for its first home game of the year.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports