Before a crowd of 78,526, the White team defeated the Crimson team, 24-15, in the annual Alabama Football Golden Flake A-Day Spring Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in perfect weather conditions Saturday afternoon.
Freshman running back T.J. Yeldon, playing for the White team, earned the Dixie Howell Award given to the game’s most valuable player, after totaling 179 yards on the day (88 rushing, 91 receiving), including a 50-yard touchdown reception. Yeldon led all players in rushing and receiving yardage on the day.
Sophomore linebacker Adrian Hubbard of the White team earned the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the Game Award given to the game’s most valuable lineman. Hubbard had 7 tackles (6 unassisted) including 4 tackles for losses of 22 yards including 3 quarterback sacks for 22 yards.
Quarterback AJ McCarron finished the day completing 29 of 42 passes for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns with 3 interceptions. McCarron led the Crimson team to 367 total yards. The White team totaled 284 total yards on the day but 4 Crimson turnovers made the difference in the game as the White did not have a giveaway in the game.
“One thing that never happens in college football is no one ever has a bad spring and no one ever has a bad spring game. We didn’t have one either,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “We had a lot of guys who made a lot of improvement this spring. We are still focusing on more and more guys knowing what it takes to win and the preparations, ability to adjust, play with poise, execute and do their job.
“None of that stuff happens by accident. It happens because of the way you prepare and the way you work. We will look and see how many guys have made progress in the regard. I think this game today was kind of a final exam for some of the players relative to spring practice. How much you improve, where you are in your development, are you ready to take responsibility for a role on the team.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Crimson team took the early lead on a safety when linebacker C.J. Mosley tackled running back Yeldon for a 1-yard loss in the end zone with 11:50 remaining in the second quarter. That play was set up by an excellent 42-yard punt by Cody Mandell that was down at the 1-yard line.
The White team took a 3-2 lead with 7:30 remaining in the second quarter when Cade Foster connected on a 48-yard field goal. The kick capped a 57-yard drive in 9 plays that consumed 5:10 of playing time.
Late in the second quarter, the Crimson team regained the lead when McCarron completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Christion Jones with 1:28 left in the first half. Jeremy Shelley’s conversion kick gave the Crimson a 9-3 lead that they took into the locker room at halftime. McCarron completed 4 of 5 pass attempts for 58 yards on the touchdown drive.
The White team responded to take a 10-9 lead with 7:17 left in the third quarter when quarterback Phillip Sims hit wide receiver Chris Black for a 44-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-11 play. Black caught the pass on a crossing pattern around the Crimson’s 30-yard line and raced to the end zone. Foster’s extra-point kick gave the White team the lead.
Yeldon stepped up on the next scoring drive to extend the White team’s lead to 17-9, accounting for 68 yards of an 80-yard march that consumed 2:54 of the clock. After Yeldon rushed for 18 yards on scampers of 10 and 8 yards, Sims passed to Yeldon on a crossing pattern from the 50-yard line and Yeldon outraced a tackler to the end zone with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Foster’s conversion kick gave the White team the 17-9 edge.
A 23-yard rush up the middle to the White 47-yard line by Dee Hart sparked the Crimson on the ensuing drive. McCarron followed up on the next play with a perfectly thrown 47-yard bomb to wide receiver Kenny Bell to pull the Crimson within two points, 17-15, on the final play of the third quarter. McCarron’s two-point conversion pass attempt to Bell was knocked away by defensive back John Fulton to protect the White team’s slim lead heading into the final quarter.
Late in the game, with the Crimson offense in two-minute mode, McCarron completed a short pass to tight end Michael Williams at the Crimson 21-yard line but White team defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wrestled the football from Williams and defensive back Vinnie Sunseri scooped up the fumble and raced untouched 21 yards for a touchdown to give the White team an insurmountable 24-15 lead.
Sunseri capped the game with an interception on the Crimson’s ensuing drive in the game’s final seconds, returning the errant pass 29 yards to the 50-yard line.
For the White team, Sims started at quarterback and completed 9 of 12 attempts for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns without throwing an interception. Phillip Ely also saw extensive action, completing 10 of 18 passes for 83 yards without a touchdown or an interception. Other than Yeldon’s team-best receiving totals, Harrison Jones had 4 catches for 29 yards and Chris Black caught 3 passes for 61 yards and 1 touchdown.
For the Crimson team, Hart rushed for 44 yards on 5 carries with a long rush of 23 yards. Bell totaled 86 yards on 5 catches for 1 touchdown while wideout Kevin Norwood, Hart, Williams and running back Jalston Fowler all had 4 receptions with Norwood’s 53 yards leading the way.
Mosley led the Crimson team with 10 tackles, including 2 for losses (3 yards) while linebacker Tana Patrick had 7 stops. DeQuan Menzie and Jarrick Williams, playing for the White and Crimson teams, each had an interception on the afternoon as well. Defensive lineman Jeffrey Pagan had 2 quarterback sacks for 8 yards in losses.
Behind Hubbard’s team-leading 7 tackles, defensive lineman Ed Stinson had 6 tackles and Sunseri finished the game with 5 stops.
Mandell had an outstanding day punting for both teams. He punted 16 times for an average of 44.2 yards per punt with 706 total yards. Four of Mandell’s punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.
The attendance of 78,526 is the fifth-largest spring game attendance total at Alabama. More than 513,000 fans have attended the six A-Day games during Saban’s tenure as head coach, including 90,000 plus in three of the six years.
Courtesy UA Media Relations