Alabama's offense made the plays when it mattered most

Alabama's offense made the plays when it mattered most

DeVonta Smith and Jalen Hurts connected for the game winning touchdown against Mississippi State on Saturday.

After trailing for most of the game Alabama had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Alabama started with the ball on its own 33-yard line with 1:09 left, tied at 24. 

After scrambling for a one-yard gain, quarterback Jalen Hurts connected with his favorite target Calvin Ridley for the fourth time of the day, gaining 15 yards. Hurts then threw an incompletion and was sacked to force a third and long. 

Once again, he found Ridley, this time for 31 yards. Alabama was on the Mississippi State 26-yard line, with under 30 ticks left on the clock. The sophomore quarterback then found freshman wide receiver DeVonta Smith for 26 yards, for the game winning touchdown.

“I walked onto the field and looked at the scoreboard to see how much time was left, and saw there was 1:09 left,” Hurts said. “I couldn’t help but think about the National Championship game. It kind of showed up last year when Deshaun Watson had 1:09 left in the game… He [Smith] did a good job catching the ball, and made someone miss.”

Hurts has always been poised in high pressure situations. As a true freshman he excelled, even leading Alabama to a crucial touchdown late in the national championship game against Clemson. He showed it off again late on Saturday.

“He definitely was very poised,” Ridley said. “We’ve been in situations like this, like last year versus Clemson and other games. We practice against that type of stuff. We just made some great plays right then.”

Alabama’s 444 yards of offense is a little more misleading at second glance. The offense struggled to stay on the field for an extended period of time in the first half, only managing to hold the ball for 7:57 of the 30-minute half. It only added 3:32 in the third quarter. 

The fourth quarter was when the ball started to roll for the Crimson Tide. It brought in sophomore running back Josh Jacobs and found instant success. 

“Josh is a different sort of cat for us,” head coach Nick Saban said. “He’s a quick, explosive [and] fast guy…I think as a change of pace guy that can go in there and do what he did tonight was probably the whole spark for the team. Just his competitive disposition on how he ran the ball, second effort, affected everyone out there… He was very productive and very effective for us.” 

Jacobs finished with 36 yards on six carries. He also found the end zone once.

In the first half, whenever Mississippi State would score, Alabama answered. The Crimson Tide started at its own 25-yard line both times, and marched down field. 

Each drive had a huge play that powered the offense to the Mississippi side of the field. Hurts found Ridley for a 63-yard strike on the first drive that set up a one-yard rush by Hurts. The two found each other again on a 61-yard dime, that took Alabama to the one. Jacobs would punch it in on the next play. 

“We made a lot of plays on offense,” Saban said. “A lot of explosive plays and big plays and scored. We did what we had to do to score points.”

In another win, Alabama had another key player go down. This time it was offensive guard Ross Pierschbacher. Saban diagnosed him with a high ankle sprain. Pierschbacher will have an MRI on Sunday to determine how long he will be out.

Alabama hosts Mercer for its last game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.

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