BIRMINGHAM — Trent Richardson ran left — nothing.
He ran right — zip.
He ran up the middle — forget it.
For most of the game, everywhere the Birmingham Iron running back went the Salt Lake Stallions defense was waiting on him.
But when the Iron needed him late in the fourth quarter, the former Alabama running back delivered. He plowed through the defensive line for a three-yard game-winning touchdown in a 12-9 Birmingham victory on Saturday at Legion Field in an Alliance of American Football game.
“That last drive, to get that touchdown — that was just about guys having grit and wanting to finish,” Richardson said. “I was telling guys on the sideline, let’s just finish.”
Sounds very familiar.
He’s heard it about 1,000 times from his former coach Nick Saban.
“We don’t give up. You have to play four quarters,” Richardson said. “We always talk about everybody doing their job. Everybody did their job on that drive.”
Trailing 9-0 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, Birmingham (2-0) caught a break when Jamar Summers striped the ball from Salt Lake punt returner De’Mornay Pierson-El, which Shaheed Salmson recovered in the end zone for the Iron’s first points.
The Iron defense held the Stallions two more times before the Iron got the ball and marched 54 yards on 11 plays with Richardson capping the drive with his touchdown.
Richardson was bottled up for the majority of the game, rushing for just 41 yards on 19 carries for a 2.2 average.
“One of their guys came up to me during a TV timeout and said ‘we are keying on you the whole time,’ Richardson said. “That was their game plan. They were calling out the plays (at the line of scrimmage). They were stacking the box and saying which way the plays were going. We kept fighting. We kept getting that jab to that eye and that cut came open and we just kept punching.”
Richardson did have a nice day as a receiver, catching six passing for 50 yards to lead the team.
Former Alabama players Xzavier Dickson (linebacker) and Josh Frazier (defensive line) left the game with knee injuries and did not return. The extent of the damage won’t be known until MRIs are performed Monday.
Birmingham travels to Atlanta next week.