The No. 1-ranked University of Alabama football team forced two interceptions, caused and recovered a fumble and blocked two kicks in its 24-7 win over the No. 3-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game inside the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Crimson Tide (1-0) won its 16th-straight season opener.
The Alabama special team forced a fumble on a kickoff, blocked a field goal and a punt, while converting on three field goal attempts in the decisive victory. The Tide defense buckled down in the second half, allowing the potent Seminole offense just 65 total yards, while picking off FSU quarterback Deondre Francois twice in the final 16 minutes of the game. Senior Shaun Dion Hamilton led the Alabama defense with eight tackles, including three-and-a-half tackles for loss and a sack.
Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts finished the game 10-of-18 with 96 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 55 yards on 15 carries. Junior Damien Harris led the game with 73 rushing yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Senior wide receiver Calvin Ridley moved to fifth all-time in career receiving yards at Alabama with 1,896 after hauling in 82 yards on seven catches. He also moved to fifth all-time in career receiving touchdowns after catching a 53-yard touchdown in the first half.
Florida State’s opening kickoff went deep into the end zone for a touchback, giving Alabama the ball to start at the 25-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, junior Damien Harris took the ball out of the backfield for a 34-yard rush to the FSU 41-yard line. The Crimson Tide came up empty in the drive, giving the Seminoles the ball at their own 34-yard line.
FSU drove the ball down to the UA 34-yard line, before Hamilton sacked Francois for a four-yard loss, giving the Crimson Tide the ball back on its own 38-yard line.
Facing third-and-10, Alabama’s next drive was kept alive when Hurts found Ridley for 21 yards to the Florida State 41-yard line. Two plays later, Hurts took off for a 20-yard gain to the FSU 18. After three plays of minimal gain, Pappanastos made a 35-yard field goal to give Alabama the 3-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
The Seminoles responded by moving the ball 90 yards on 11 plays, capping off the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to put FSU up 7-3 with 13:41 to go in the second quarter.
Alabama took the following kickoff out of the end zone to the 15-yard line. Back-to-back short runs by freshman Najee Harris, set up a third-and-two conversion when Hurts found Ridley for six yards. Hurts followed up on the next play with an 18-yard first down run, putting the ball on the UA 47-yard line. The Tide took a 10-7 lead with 11:38 remaining in the second quarter when Hurts found a wide-open Ridley streaking down the middle of the field for a 53-yard touchdown strike.
The two teams traded back-to-back three-and-outs, before FSU took over on the UA 31-yard line following a short punt. The Tide defense stuffed the Seminole offense, driving it back five yards and forcing FSU to punt the ball back with 2:59 left in the half.
After an Alabama three-and-out, Florida State took over from its own 30-yard line with 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Seminoles drove the ball down to the UA 20-yard line to set up a 37-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds on the clock. Crimson Tide junior safety Minkah Fitzpatrick pushed through the Seminoles’ line to block the attempt and keep the score locked at 10-7 at the half.
After the two teams traded punts to start the second half, FSU was set to punt yet again, when Damien Harris came off the edge to block the Seminoles’ effort and set the Tide offense up at the FSU 6-yard line. Three plays later, Pappanastos converted on the 25-yard field goal attempt with 1:54 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the FSU returner took the ball out of the end zone and fumbled, giving the ball back to Alabama on the FSU 11-yard line. Damien Harris cashed in on the next play, bolting up the middle for the score, extending the Alabama lead to 19-7. Hurts found Ridley in the end zone for the two-point conversion, putting the Tide up 21-7 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Less than a minute later, the Tide took back the ball again, when senior Levi Wallace picked off Francois’ pass at the FSU 42-yard line. Alabama came up empty on the drive, while holding the 21-7 lead with 12:28 left in the game.
FSU started the following drive at their own 24-yard line, before the Tide took the ball away for the third-straight possession when sophomore linebacker Mack Wilson picked off Francois at the Florida State 34-yard line.
The two teams traded punts again before Pappanastos once again split the uprights from 33-yards out, giving the Crimson Tide the 24-7 advantage with 6:25 left in the game.
Alabama returns to action Saturday, Sept. 9 with its home opener against Fresno State in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 2:30 p.m. CT.