While the 2019 University of Alabama football season did not produce the championship that its fans are accustomed to, it produced several moments that will be remembered for years to come — and some emblematic of why it did not produce a championship. Here are nine moments that defined UA’s season.
Najee Harris’ hurdle at South Carolina
A season that ended with 1,262 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns and seven receiving touchdowns — a record for UA running backs — was likely to produce some major highlights, and this was among the best. Harris’s route took him into the line of scrimmage and to his left, the wide side of the field; the defensive back in pursuit was met with a vicious stiff arm that threw him to the sideline. Harris used the next 12 yards to build up speed for a hurdle over a South Carolina safety, then shedding one late tackler in the final 10 yards before scoring. Striking Megan Rapinoe’s goal celebration stance after the touchdown made him the toast of Twitter for an hour or so.
DeVonta Smith’s record day against Ole Miss
Amari Cooper’s records were supposed to be borderline unbreakable: it’s not often you see a receiver getting more than 120 catches in a single season. But Smith managed to break two in one game, going for 274 yards and five touchdowns against Ole Miss. The fourth touchdown was enough to set the new record, but the fifth made the record even more difficult to match.
Ty Perine enters the scene
On Oct. 19, Alabama was one of the worst punting teams in the nation, by almost any measure. Will Reichard’s injury and Skyler DeLong’s struggles left UA searching for answers. The freshman walk-on from Prattville was just that: he only punted 13 times, but his 44.69 yards per punt would have been among the top 20 nationally if held over an entire season.
Exclamation point to Third Saturday in October
Alabama was on its way to another comfortable win over rival Tennessee, up by 15 going into the fourth quarter. A 14-play, 66-yard drive from the Volunteers put that in danger, as a touchdown would bring the game within one possession with roughly eight minutes to go. That drive ended in the opposite end zone, when cornerback Trevon Diggs picked up a fumble and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown — all the invitation needed for Bryant-Denny Stadium patrons to light their victory cigars.
Tua Tagovailoa goes down
Tagovailoa’s first injury, the ankle injury from the second quarter of the Tennessee game, forced him into an altered state in the pivotal game against LSU. The second injury, the gruesome hip injury against Mississippi State, kept him out of the Iron Bowl. Those two games changed the course of UA’s season.
LSU storms ahead in final minutes of first half
In the final five minutes of the second quarter, LSU made a field goal, forced a punt, scored a touchdown, intercepted Tagovailoa and scored another touchdown. The 17-point blitz was UA’s undoing in the game that put its Playoff hopes on life support.
Waddle to the house — again
With just under six minutes left until halftime, Auburn retook the lead with a pick-6 on a misplaced Mac Jones throw. The next possession would be a big one: a score would even things once again and massage the impact of the pick-6, but a quick punt could have tipped things in Auburn’s favor for good.
Jaylen Waddle took all of the pressure off of the offense by returning the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. In both of UA’s biggest games of the season, against LSU and Auburn, Waddle returned kicks for touchdowns.
Oddities of the Iron Bowl
As damaging as the LSU loss was, UA’s Playoff hopes weren’t entirely over when UA made the trip to Auburn for the Iron Bowl. But as UA looks back on the game that did end all hope, two odd sequences will stand out: the review at the end of the half that effectively granted Auburn a timeout, enough time to get off a successful field goal attempt, and the substitution snafu at the end that prevented Auburn from giving UA the ball back.
Jerry Jeudy’s farewell
Although it was not officially announced, there was little doubt that the Citrus Bowl would be Jeudy’s final game as a UA wide receiver. He went out in style: six catches for 204 yards and a touchdown, plus the game’s MVP honors, was a reminder of what the 2018 Biletnikoff Award winner was at his best while in crimson and white.
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