AJ McCarron sets Alabama's single-season TD passes record in rout
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Eddie Lacy rushed for three first-half touchdowns, AJ McCarron set Alabama's single-season record for passing TDs and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide routed Western Carolina 49-0 on Saturday.
Alabama (10-1) rebounded from a loss to No. 9 Texas A&M by building a 42-0 halftime lead against the Catamounts (1-10), a Football Championship Subdivision team with two wins in as many seasons. It was Alabama's third shutout this year.
McCarron completed all six of his attempts for 133 yards and his 21st touchdown before exiting midway through the second quarter. Lacy ran for 99 yards on 10 carries with two 7-yard touchdowns and a 3-yarder. Neither played after halftime.
Cornerback Deion Belue returned a fumble 57 yards in the final seconds before halftime.
The 42 points were the most Alabama had scored in the first half since producing the same amount against Georgia State on Nov. 18, 2010.
Still hoping for a shot at a second straight national title, the Tide can secure a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 5 Georgia with a victory over rival Auburn.
This one was a welcome respite for Alabama after games against No. 8 LSU and the Aggies went down to the final minute. It followed three straight against opponents ranked in the top 15 at the time of the game, including Mississippi State.
Alabama outgained the Catamounts 463-163 in total yards and outrushed them 300-70. The Catamounts have lost all 14 meetings against SEC teams and haven't beaten a Division I (FCS or FBS) team since topping The Citadel on Oct. 2, 2010.
McCarron, who threw his first two interceptions of the season last week, broke the single-season mark set by Greg McElroy in 2010. He hit Christion Jones on a 29-yard touchdown with 8:15 left in the second quarter to cap a 99-yard drive then became a spectator.
The junior also moved past McElroy into third place on the Tide career list with 40 touchdown passes, behind Brodie Croyle (41) and John Parker Wilson (47).
T.J. Yeldon ran for 55 yards and a touchdown on seven carries before leaving with a sprained foot. Coach Nick Saban said he could have returned.
Backup quarterback Blake Sims was only 2 of 6 for 27 yards in his most significant action but also rushed for 70 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown.
Wide receiver Kevin Norwood was held out of the game for an unspecified injury and backup tailback Kenyan Drake was suspended for violating team rules.
Even Alabama's mistakes turned into Tide points. Western Carolina fumbled it right back after Jones lost the ball on a punt return, and Belue scooped it up for another score with 14 seconds left before halftime.
Alabama also drew a roughing penalty on the punt, prompting Saban to make a furious leap into the air on the sideline even with the huge lead.
Western Carolina backup quarterback Eddie Sullivan set up the Catamounts' best scoring chance before Alabama made a fourth-down stop from the 14 late in the third quarter.
Sullivan rushed for 28 yards and was 4 of 12 for 63 yards after replacing freshman Troy Mitchell.
The Tide didn't punt until the fourth quarter, reaching 10 wins for the fifth straight season for the first time since 1971-75.AJ McCarron Career Passing StatisticsSeasonComp-AttPct.YardsTDINTLongAvg/G201030-4862.5389304729.92011219-32866.82,63416569202.62012163-244682,29121285215.8Totals406-614665,31440785133