Final Score: Alabama 33, West Virginia 23
Blake Sims‘ first game as Alabama’s starting quarterback and Lane Kiffin’s first as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator wasn’t exactly what Bama fans were hoping for.
The second-ranked Tide did not rout West Virginia, which was coming off a 4-8 season, Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
But Sims, a fifth-year senior who beat out Florida State transfer Jake Coker for the starting assignment, did just enough Saturday for Alabama to escape with a 33-23 win over a Mountaineers team that may be better than advertised.
Here’s how it went down:
A Bad Snap Forced West Virginia to Settle for a Field Goal in the 4th Quarter
Another gift for Alabama's defense as WVU botches a snap. Clint Trickett came up limping on the play.
— Marquavius Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) August 30, 2014
The Mountaineers were driving and had a chance to score a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to come within 3. But a snap that went over Clint Trickett’s head forced the Mountaineers to settle for a 41-yard Josh Lambert field goal that made it 30-23 with 13:37 left in the game.
Trickett, who had thrown an incomplete pass into the endzone on 2nd down, ran back to jump on the ball and came up limping on the play. Lambert’s field goal — his third of the game — capped a 9-play, 51-yard drive.
Daryl Worley picked off a pass from Blake Sims on Alabama’s ensuing possession, but the Mountaineers failed to capitalize with a score. Watch the interception here:
Adam Griffith kicked his fourth field goal of the game — this one from 45 yards out — to push the lead back to 10 at 33-23 with 8:07 left in the game.
Derrick Henry Extended Alabama’s Lead With a 19-Yard Touchdown
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) August 30, 2014
Derrick Henry plowed into the endzone from 19 yards out, capping a 6-play, 70-yard drive and giving Alabama a 27-17 lead with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
A 42-yard Josh Lambert field goal made it 27-20 with 4:59 left in the third quarter, but Alabama answered with another Adam Griffith field goal — this one from 27 yards out with 1:27 left in the quarter — to stretch the lead back to 10 at 30-20.
WVU’s Mario Alford Returned a Kickoff 100 Yards for a Touchdown
T.J. Yeldon had just scored his second touchdown of the game, giving Alabama a 17-10 lead late in the first half and seemingly giving the Crimson Tide the momentum they needed heading into the half.
Mario Alford changed that.
Alford took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the house, tying the game at 17 and electrifying the Mountaineers’ fans in attendance.
Adam Griffith kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give the Crimson Tide a 20-17 lead at the half.
T.J. Yeldon Scored the Game’s 1st Touchdown
In what will likely prove to be the first of many T.J. Yeldon touchdowns, the Bama junior dove head-first into the endzone and scored on a 15-yard run with 14:11 left in the first half to put Bama up 10-3.
Yeldon’s score capped an impressive 14-play, 95-yard drive that began late in the first quarter on the Crimson Tide’s 5-yard-line.
The Mountaineers, though, responded quickly, scoring on a 19-yard touchdown strike from Clint Trickett to Kevin White on the ensuing drive and tying the game at 10 with 11:58 left in the half.
Clint Trickett Was Impressive Early
Trickett was 4 of 7 for 53 yards on that drive, all but three of those yards going to Kevin White …
— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) August 30, 2014
Clint Trickett’s first drive as the West Virginia starting QB was impressive despite not ending in a touchdown. Trickett led the Mountaineers on a 14-play, 79-yard drive to set up a 20-yard Josh Lambert field goal that made it 3-0 with 10:58 left in the first quarter.
The Mountaineers had a great chance to score with the ball inside the Alabama 10, but the Crimson Tide defense came through.
Alabama’s first drive of the season — the first for Blake Sims as the Crimson Tide starter — led to a 47-yard Adam Griffith field goal that tied it up with 8:18 left in the first quarter.
Trickett led West Virginia back into Bama territory on the Mountaineers’ second drive, but the drive stalled out when WVU couldn’t convert on 3rd-and-11 from the Bama 38, forcing WVU to punt.
Pregame: ‘Bama Favored to Win Big
They went 11-2 last year with an appearance in a BCS bowl game. For 99 percent of college football programs, it would have been a season for the ages.
For Alabama, it was an abject disaster. And the second-ranked Crimson Tide is out to make amends when it opens the season Saturday afternoon against West Virginia.
The Tide will be breaking in a new quarterback, with fifth-year senior Blake Sims expected to start over Florida State transfer Jacob Coker. But ‘Bama has eight returning starters on offense, including star junior running back T.J. Yeldon. It’s also the debut for Lane Kiffin as the Tide’s offensive coordinator.
Here’s what you need to know about the game:
WHO: Alabama vs. West Virginia
WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Eastern time
WHERE: The Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
LINE: Alabama by 25 1/2
How to Watch on TV & Online
TV: Unless you live in the Chicago or San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose TV markets, you’ll get the game on ABC. If you’re in one of those markets, you’ll get Cal-Northwestern on ABC and Alabama-West Virginia on ESPN2. Click here to check out ABC and ESPN’s coverage maps.
LIVE STREAM: If you have a cable subscription that includes ESPN, you can watch online for free at WatchESPN.com on desktop or the WatchESPN app for mobile.
Alabama 48, West Virginia 7
‘Bama on a neutral field against a team that went 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12 last year? We’ll gladly lay the 25 1/2 points and take the Tide to cover.