The Alabama Crimson Tide defense has scored as many touchdowns as it has allowed – five in both categories.
With less than 3 minutes to play in the second quarter Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide was holding on to a tenuous 10-3 lead over the Kentucky Wildcats. The visitors from Lexington had the ball in Alabama territory, and looked to be threatening to narrow the advantage before the half.
Then the Alabama defense does what it does best. It made a big, game-changing play.
On third-and-6, Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson dropped back to throw and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt dialed up some pressure. The defensive line flushed Johnson from the pocket and blitzing linebacker Rashaan Evans got home.
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Evans stripped Johnson as he was going to the ground. The ball bounced out from underneath a Wildcat lineman and right into Harrison’s waiting hands. 55 yards later, Alabama had a 16-3 lead and the dynamics of the game completely changed.
With Harrison’s fumble recovery, Alabama passed Ohio State for the most defensive touchdowns in the nation.
Alabama has five defensive touchdowns, Ohio State four, and six teams have 3 – including SEC foes Ole Miss and Arkansas.
All of Alabama’s defensive scores have had a significant impact on the game.
The Crimson Tide’s first defensive score came courtesy of cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Humphrey intercepted USC quarterback Max Browne’s deflected pass and took it back 18 yards for the score. That made the score 17-3 before the half.
Alabama Safety Eddie Jackson added his own pick-6 the next week against Western Kentucky. Jackson picked off Hilltoppers’ QB Mike White in the second quarter to also make the score 17-3 before the half. There appears to be a pattern here.
The Crimson Tide defense got two more touchdowns in Oxford against the Ole Miss Rebels. Defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen put both of their names on the Piesman Trophy list after their efforts.
Payne took in a Chad Kelly fumble to tie the score at 24 early in the fourth quarter. Allen would get in on the action by intercepting Kelly late in the fourth quarter and taking it back 75 yards to give the Tide a 48-30 lead.
BamaHammer Commentary: In Praise of the Non-Offensive Touchdown
The defense has done a phenomenal job all year helping out the Crimson Tide offense. So far, the defense has looked a lot like the LSU 2011 defense by being so opportunistic.
Also, this defense is as stout in terms of its ability to simply stop the opponent. The Crimson Tide have not allowed a touchdown in eight quarters. Perhaps more impressive, the defense has only given up a touchdown in two games – against Western Kentucky and Ole Miss.
Alabama has now scored a non-offensive touchdown (defense or special teams) in seven straight games dating back to the Cotton Bowl blowout of Michigan State on New Year’s Eve 2015.