Records fell as the points stacked up.
Tua Tagovailoa claimed more real estate in Alabama’s record books after the Crimson Tide’s 52-21 win in the Iron Bowl on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. He threw five touchdown passes to tie a school record. A sixth touchdown, which came on the ground, gave him the most total touchdowns in a game in Alabama history.
The sophomore quarterback could soon own even more history. Alabama can win the SEC championship in one week, and he could win the 2018 Heisman Trophy in two weeks.
“It was a good team win,” Taogvailoa said. “I’m not too focused on any of these awards right now. We still have another game, the SEC championship. We can worry about all those (awards) later.”
He finished the day 25 of 32 for 324 yards with five passing and one rushing touchdown. That gives him 41 total touchdowns this season, another school record.
It didn’t always look so easy. He was 14 of 20 for 116 yards with one touchdown at halftime as Auburn often kept both safeties in coverage, leaving shorter passes open. Alabama went to halftime with a 17-14 lead but exploded in the second half. Tagovailoa threw four touchdown passes on five drives to give Alabama a 45-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“(Tagovailoa) was outstanding,” coach Nick Saban said. “I think it was really important that we hit two big plays to start the second half and score really quickly. I think that changed the game quite a bit.”
Junior quarterback Jalen Hurts gave Alabama its final margin of victory with a 53-yard touchdown pass on a one-play drive to freshman wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. It was just the third time in school history Alabama had thrown six touchdowns as a team in a single game.
Five different players caught touchdown passes. Sophomore Jerry Jeudy had five catches for 77 yards and one score, while Henry Ruggs III had five catches for 62 yards and two score. DeVonta Smith had four receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Saban credited Tagovailoa’s leadership with helping to spark Alabama in the second half. Senior center Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama’s only player who was a starter when Derrick Henry won the Heisman in 2015, was willing to stump for his teammate.
“I just think he’s been so consistent the whole year, his stats kind of speak for itself,” Pierschbacher said. “He’s an all-around player, he’s a fun teammate to be around, and I think that he obviously deserves the Heisman.”
Tagovailoa was the last Alabama player to leave the field as TV networks tried to get one final word with the quarterback. Even after six touchdowns, he still had a statement to make.
“Tua has had an outstanding year for us,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job. Doesn’t seem to ever get flustered in the game. Things don’t go well, we miss a couple passes, whatever, get a little pressure in the pocket, he always seems to respond exactly like you’d want a quarterback to respond. He always keeps playing, plays the next game. He’s into it, he’s excited about it, he’s excited for his teammates. His leadership is something that I think is really important to the other players on the team and they have a lot of confidence in him. To win a Heisman Trophy, you don’t get recognized as being the best performer in anything if you don’t have the right stuff.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.