Alabama defense dominates Iron Bowl
by Johnathan Bentley
Nov 27, 2011 | 1766 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower wraps up Auburn's Quan Bray during Saturday's Iron Bowl. Photo by: Jason Clark
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower wraps up Auburn's Quan Bray during Saturday's Iron Bowl. Photo by: Jason Clark
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AUBURN — A.J. McCarron got Alabama started.

Trent Richardson finished it off — and the Tide got some outstanding defense in between in Saturday’s 42-14 win over Auburn the Iron Bowl.

McCarron picked apart the Auburn defense for three first-half touchdowns and Richardson rushed for 141 clock-draining yards in the second half as the Tide exacted some revenge from last year’s home loss with a statement win over the Tigers.

While the offense bad its moments, Alabama’s defense stole the show.

Auburn had two exciting touchdowns, but neither came from the offense. Alabama put the clamps on Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley and stuffed the run as the Tide sewed up a spot in January’s BCS National Championship Game with a dominating performance at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Two numbers sum up Alabama’s defensive effort — 2 and 44.

Auburn had two first downs heading into the fourth quarter and had amassed a paltry 44 yards of offense before gaining 96 on its final two drives of the game. Auburn’s longest play from scrimmage was 12 yards and only three plays went for 10 yards or more. Alabama also had nine tackles for loss in the game.

Alabama’s defense added a touchdown as well with Dee Milliner returning a Moseley interception 35 yards for a score that put the No. 2-ranked Tide up 35-14 and ended any chances of an Auburn upset.

The Tigers had no answer for Alabama’s battle-tested and experienced defense that starts five seniors and six juniors.

“We executed our game plan. We tried to make them one-dimensional by taking away the run and making them throw the ball and we did that,” Milliner said after the game.

Alabama’s defense rendered Auburn ineffective in every aspect. The Tigers rushed 35 times for 78 yards and had a long run of just seven yards. Auburn running back Michael Dyer and company were held to 2.2 yards per attempt.

Moseley also struggled, completing 11-of-20 passes for 62 yards.

“I just think they were tough to block up front whether it was run blocking or pass blocking. They are just a really good defense. You don't become the No. 1 defense in the country in about every category by accident. They are what they are. They are extremely talented,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.

On the offensive side, Alabama turned to Richardson in the second half.

During the week, Chizik called stopping Richardson “job responsibility No. 1.”

The Tigers weren’t up to the challenge.

Richardson set up a field goal with runs of 35 and 16 yards in the Tide’s first possession of the third quarter and he broke free for a 57-yard run in the fourth quarter to set up Alabama’s last touchdown.

Richardson finished the game with 203 yards on 27 carries (an average of 7.5 yards per attempt). The Heisman Trophy frontrunner now has 1,583 yards on the season.

“To me, Trent Richardson is the best football player in the country,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “He is a great teammate. He is a leader. His performance and production pretty much speak for itself. I will say this, he will be the first one to tell you that the offensive line does a pretty good job blocking up front, and that attributes to his success.”

Alabama’s 42 points Saturday marked the third highest total for the Tide in the Iron Bowl. Only the 1977 team (48-21) and 1948 team (55-0), scored more points.

The loss snapped Auburn’s 14-game home winning streak, which dated back to the 2009 Iron Bowl loss to Alabama.

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Johnathan Bentley is the Sports Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at johnathan.bentley@mountaineagle.com.