No. 1 Alabama rolls to 56-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — It was Jaylen and Jalen day for No. 1 Alabama.
Jaylen Waddle returned a punt for a touchdown and caught two scoring passes, including a 94-yarder, and Jalen Hurts made a statement just by playing in the Crimson Tide’s 56-14 victory Saturday over Louisiana-Lafayette.
Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Hurts staked the Crimson Tide (5-0) to a 49-0 halftime lead over the Ragin’ Cajuns (1-3) en route to the defending national champions’ latest blowout.
Hurts, who twice led Alabama to national championship games but lost his starting job, erased any question about possibly taking a redshirt year by playing in his fifth game.
“There’s never been anybody that I know of that’s in the position that he’s in, so that just speaks volumes to his character,” Alabama tailback Josh Jacobs said.
Third-teamer Mac Jones got into the act with his 94-yarder to the freshman Waddle late in the third quarter. It tied for the second-longest TD catch in Alabama history.
Alabama has scored at least 45 points five games in a row for the first time in program history.
Tagovailoa completed all eight of his attempts for 128 yards and two touchdowns, mostly in the first quarter. Hurts was 4 of 6 for 118 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Henry Ruggs III.
Just the fact that Hurts played was noteworthy.
“Jalen obviously handled this extremely well relative to being a great team player, great team leader, respecting his teammates and sticking with the program here,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
“He played very well today and took advantage of when he does have an opportunity to play, he plays well and tries to create value for himself, which I think would be the message that I would send to all players out there who are trying to take advantage of this new rule.”
Ruggs caught five passes for 116 yards and two TDs. Waddle gained 138 yards on three catches and returned a punt by zig-zagging 63 yards for a score.
“The dude is explosive,” Ruggs said. “He’s very shifty and very fast. He’s going to be a problem.”
Alabama took a 21-0 lead in the first seven minutes, with help from two big special teams plays, Waddle’s return and Derek Kief’s blocked punt.
Jacobs ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter.
The Ragin’ Cajuns scored twice in the fourth but were outgained 608-288. Trey Ragas gained 111 yards on 16 rushes with a 1-yard touchdown.
Louisana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier said he was concerned about Waddle and Jacobs, who returns kicks.
“I probably lost more sleep this week thinking about that than I did anything else,” Napier said.
Louisiana-Lafayette: Napier, a former Alabama receivers coach, joins the ranks of ex-Saban assistants who haven’t beaten their former boss. Saban is 14-0 against former underlings, including last week over Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.
Alabama: Fourth straight game against teams that aren’t ranked. Did what it’s supposed to in such an obvious mismatch: Take care of business early.
HURTS’ 5TH GAME
Hurts officially can’t follow the path of players such as Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant, leaving teams to preserve a year of eligibility. He entered on the last drive of the first quarter. A new NCAA rule allows players to redshirt if they don’t play in more than four games.
There were thousands of empty seats for the Tide’s latest blowout, and only a fraction of seats in the student sections were filled. Official attendance was a near-capacity 101,471.
Louisiana-Lafayette tries to push its record against Texas State to 5-0.
Alabama travels to SEC West opponent Arkansas with another early kickoff.