The No. 2 Alabama football team opened the 2011 season with a 48-7 win over the Kent State Golden Flashes before a sold-out crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Crimson Tide piled up 482 yards of total offense while the defense limited Kent State to just 90 total yards, including minus nine yards rushing. UA sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron finished the day 14-of-23 for 226 yards and two touchdown passes while senior Marquis Maze led all receivers with 118 yards on eight receptions and a touchdown. Maze also added 135 return yards on special teams.
Sophomore running back Jalston Fowler led the Tide with 69 yards rushing on four carries, including a 49-yard touchdown run. Sophomore running back Eddie Lacy added 134 total yards (76 receiving, 58 rushing) and a touchdown while Trent Richardson finished with 37 yards on 13 carries and a game-high three touchdowns.
"Obviously, it's a good win for us," UA head coach Nick Saban said. "It's always good to get a win under your belt. There were a lot of things that we did well today. We ran a lot of good plays, and we had a lot of players get experience. That experience also brings a lot of learning opportunities for our young guys that play critical positions. We have a lot to learn and a lot of things we can improve on."
After forcing a Kent State punt on the game's opening possession, Alabama marched 36 yards in eight plays as Richardson barreled into the end zone from one yard out to make the score 7-0. Following another Kent State punt, the Crimson Tide needed just four plays to cover 74 yards, capped off by McCarron's 24-yard touchdown strike to Maze to make the score 14-0 less than seven minutes into the game.
Alabama got on the board again at the close of the first quarter as Richardson scampered into the end zone from nine yards out to make it 21-0. The Crimson Tide would score once more before the close of the half as Jeremy Shelley connected on a 36-yard field goal to put Alabama up 24-0 at the half.
Kent State notched its first and only score of the game at the 9:13 mark of the third quarter following a Crimson Tide turnover to make the score 24-7. Alabama answered back quickly with an eight play, 76-yard drive culminating in a one-yard Richardson touchdown run, his third of the day, to make the score 31-7.
Following a Kent State turnover on downs, Lacy added to the Crimson Tide's lead with a one-yard touchdown run to make the score 38-7 at the 4:04 mark of the third quarter. Two possessions later Fowler rumbled into the end zone from 49 yards out at the beginning of the fourth quarter to push the Crimson Tide lead to 45-7. Shelley would add a 32-yard field goal to close out the scoring for both teams.
The Alabama defense surrendered just 90 total yards and allowed Kent State to cross midfield just once for the entire game. The Crimson Tide did not allow a first down until the 6:42 mark of the second quarter, while registering four sacks and seven tackles for a loss. True freshman linebacker Trey Depriest led Alabama with 10 tackles on the day while junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw each added seven tackles. Senior cornerback Phelon Jones added an interception for the Tide as well.
Alabama will travel to State College, Pa., to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. central.