The University of Alabama football team had six first-half possessions Saturday and scored a touchdown on every one. The Crimson Tide added a punt return touchdown for good measure. So being outscored in the second half by Louisiana-Lafayette didn’t amount to much except add a page for head coach Nick Saban’s folder of rat poison antidote.
No. 1 Alabama rolled past the visiting Ragin’ Cajuns 56-14, setting a school record with a fifth straight game scoring 45 points or more. Freshman Jaylen Waddle was the star among stars, scoring three touchdowns, two on long receptions and another on a 63-yard punt return. The Crimson Tide rushed for 268 yards (out of 608 total offensive yards) in polishing up an area of concern from previous weeks.
“We’ve been working on having an identity for the team that was a little more physical, a little more aggressive and we did a pretty good job of that,” Saban said.
Starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played four series and led Alabama to four touchdowns, completing all eight of his pass attempts for 128 yards. That immaculate stat line included touchdown passes of 13 yards to Henry Ruggs III and 20 yards to Waddle. For the season, Tagovailoa is 66 of 88 passing (75 percent) for 1,161 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jalen Hurts, who came in late in the first quarter, also had a strong performance. The junior, appearing in his fifth game of the season, completed 4 of 6 passes for 118 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown to Ruggs. He also earned praise from Saban for “leadership” in opting to play this season rather than take a four-game redshirt.
Josh Jacobs added two first-half touchdown runs as the Crimson Tide built a 49-0 lead at halftime. The Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 197-20 in the first half this season.
In the second half, Alabama emptied its bench, including a lengthy stint for third-team quarterback Mac Jones. He promptly put his name in the record books as well, completing a 94-yard touchdown pass to Waddle, a scoring play that equaled the second-longest in UA history. Only the AJ McCarron-to-Amari Cooper 99-yard touchdown against Auburn in 2014 surpasses the score.
The Cajuns, coached by former Alabama assistant Billy Napier, kept fighting against the Crimson Tide reserves. Running back Trey Ragas quietly gained 111 yards on 16 carries and two Louisiana touchdowns — plus two missed field goals by Alabama — trimmed the final score to 56-14.
“I was a little disappointed that we didn’t play as well when the second unit defense went in there,” Saban said.
Alabama returns to Southeastern Conference play next weekend, traveling to Arkansas.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.