Alabama had flirted with a loss just two weeks ago at Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide was able to rally in the fourth quarter to seal the win. It fell short in its 26-14 loss to Auburn on Saturday.
Alabama looked slow in its second drive against the No. 6 team in the country. The Tigers marched 95 yards in 12 plays against Alabama’s defense, led by the combination of Jarrett Stidham and Kerryon Johnson.
The two combined for all 95 yards before Johnson threw a jump pass to wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers. Stidham was 6-of-7 on the drive.
That drive really set the tone for Auburn as it was prolific on third downs, finishing 9-of-17.
“We would play three or four plays really well and get them in third and eight, then they would get a first down,” head coach Nick Saban said. “We need to be able to do a better job of sustaining things on offense and defense.”
Going into the second half, Alabama was only down three. Then Auburn caught fire, scoring on its first three drives of the second half.
“We should have gotten off the field on third downs,” nose guard Da’Ron Payne said. “Everything they did on us, was because of us. Us not lining up right. Us not reading our keys. It’s all on us.”
By the time the third quarter ended Alabama was down 20-14, before Auburn put the nail in the coffin with a 16-yard scramble by Stidham.
Stidham was the star of the show for Auburn. The sophomore lit up Alabama’s secondary for 237 yards and made plays with his legs finishing with 51 rushing yards.
“We knew he [Stidham] was very athletic,” Saban said. “We did respect him as a runner… He did make a couple of really good runs… He’s the best quarterback we’ve played this year.”
Johnson finished with
Dylan Moses and the return of three linebackers were really the only bright spot for the Crimson Tide.
Moses led all players with 10 total tackles. He finished with 11 tackles against Mercer.
Mack Wilson, Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller all returned. Wilson was injured against LSU, while Lewis and Miller were hurt against LSU. Lewis led the trio with two tackles while Wilson and Miller each finished with a tackle.
“They did very well,” linebacker Rashaan Evans said. “The fact that they were able to come back this season was a miracle. We thought these guys weren’t going to be able to make it back this season… I feel like since they did come back, it’s an addition to our team. If they let us back in the playoffs, we’ll have a much better defense.”
With the loss, Alabama will miss the SEC Championship for the first time since 2013. Its bowl future is also unknown. The Crimson Tide fell just one win short of a perfect regular season, but it is still unknown if the Playoff Selection Committee will put it in the final four.
The playoff selection show takes place on Dec. 3.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports