Alabama Gets Job Done Again : SEC: Offense does barely enough as defense reigns in 17-13 defeat of Tennessee.
Alabama’s struggling offense squeaked by again on Saturday.
The No. 10 Crimson Tide drove 80 yards to a winning touchdown on Sherman Williams’ four-yard run with three minutes remaining for a 17-13 victory over Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee.
“It was a super drive. Jay (Barker) was making the right decisions and most of it was running the football, and that’s what we needed to do,” Alabama Coach Gene Stallings said.
“It was the kind of win we really needed. I felt we needed to play a good, tough team away from home in a hostile environment, and I thought our players handled it well.”
As it has done all season, the Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) led with its defense and counterpunched with barely enough offense.
Tennessee (3-4, 2-3) can look at its ninth consecutive failure to beat Alabama as another case of what might have been. The Volunteers fumbled away one scoring opportunity at the Alabama two in the first half, and drove to the Alabama seven in the waning moments only to come away empty.
“We made the key plays defensively when we had to,” Stallings said. “Nothing came easy, but that’s all right. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said he thought his defense did enough to win, but the offense couldn’t close the deal.
“Again, costly errors, especially in the first half, were the difference,” he said.
“We felt going in we had to run, and we did that. We felt we needed to stop the run, and we didn’t do that as well as we should. And we knew we couldn’t have turnovers, and we did.”
The Crimson Tide was outgained 385 yards to 336, but its defense refused to let the team lose.
Tennessee had two first-and-goal situations that resulted in no points. The first ended when Tommy Johnson forced a fumble from James (Little Man) Stewart and John Tanks recovered.
The second came at game’s end. After Williams’ touchdown put Alabama ahead, Tennessee drove to the Alabama seven. Michael Rogers flicked away a potential touchdown pass on third down, and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“I felt confident the whole game,” said Alabama defensive end Dameian Jeffries. “Not to say I wasn’t nervous. I’d like a couple of blowouts. These games have been too close for me.”
Williams finished with 142 yards in 26 carries for Alabama. Barker, limited in practice this week because of a sore throwing shoulder, completed 10 of 19 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.