Final Score: Alabama 42, Florida 21
Alabama’s first play from scrimmage Saturday against Florida was an 87-yard touchdown pass. The Crimson Tide had a few ugly moments throughout their SEC opener against the Gators, but the opening play proved a sign of things to come.
Quarterback Blake Sims and Co. carved up the Florida defense to the tune of 648 total yards — the most ever allowed by Florida — and the Crimson Tide scored 21 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 42-21 rout at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Read on for a recap and video highlights.
Alabama Scored on its 1st Play From Scrimmage
Not exactly the start Florida hoped for.
The Gators went 3-and-out on their opening drive, the only silver lining being that Kyle Christy’s 58-yard punt forced the Crimson Tide to start its first drive from its own 13-yard-line.
That silver lining disappeared instantly when the Tide scored on its very first play from scrimmage — an 87-yard touchdown strike from Blake Sims to Kenyan Drake that gave ‘Bama a 7-0 lead just 1:13 in.
Sims, starting his first SEC game after backing up A.J. McCarron for the past three years, hit a wide-open Drake just shy of the 50-yard-line, and Drake took it to the house untouched.
Kenyan Drake Fumbled & Florida Took Advantage
For the second straight Alabama drive, Drake had the ball in his hands on Alabama’s first play. For the second straight drive, it was the last play of the drive. But the second time, Drake was the goat rather than the hero. He fumbled after a 7-yard run, and the Gators took advantage.
Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves recovered at the Alabama 31, and Jeff Driskel hit Valdez Showers for a 28-yard touchdown pass three plays later, tying the game at 7 with 11:26 left in the first quarter.
‘Bama Fumbled Again & Florida Recovered & Took it to the House
An Alabama player fumbled for the second straight drive, and this time, Florida’s offense didn’t even need to take the field to get into the endzone.
DeAndre White caught a 7-yard pass from Sims, but Neiron Ball knocked the ball loose and Keanu Neal returned it 49 yards for a touchdown that gave the Gators their first lead of the game at 14-7 with 9:24 left in the first quarter.
Blake Sims & Amari Cooper Connected for a 79-Yard Touchdown
The deep ball came through again for the Crimson Tide when Sims hit a wide-open Amari Cooper down the middle of the field for a 79-yard touchdown that tied the game at 14 with 4:12 left in the first quarter.
It was the second time that Sims aired it out on the first play of a drive and got the best result possible.
Here’s the call on the Crimson Tide radio network:
— Bam™ (@BigBam3) September 20, 2014
The spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch was one of five in the first quarter for Cooper, who finished the quarter with 156 receiving yards.
Sims finished the quarter 10-for-12 passing for 272 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.
Blake Sims Briefly Left the Game With an Injury
Sims briefly left the game late in the third quarter after he suffered an apparent shoulder injury with 2:42 left in the third quarter. He jogged to the locker room, but emerged before the start of the fourth quarter to a rousing ovation from the crowd.
Florida State transfer Jacob Coker replaced Sims and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper before Sims returned.
Sims didn’t appear bothered by the injury. He immediately led a scoring an 8-play, 60-yard touchdown drive upon re-entering.
‘Bama Scored 21 Unanswered Points in the 2nd Half
Jeff Driskel scored on a 14-yard touchdown run on Florida’s first drive of the second half to tie the score at 21 with 12:42 left in the third quarter.
But Derrick Henry put the Crimson Tide back on top with a 3-yard touchdown run that made it 28-21 with 5:27 left in the quarter, and the Tide increased the lead to 35-21 when Coker hit Cooper from 3 yards out with 21 seconds left in the quarter.
When Sims returned, he hit Cooper for a 6-yard touchdown strike — Cooper’s third touchdown catch of the game — that made it 42-21 with 10:10 left in the game.
Pregame: Fans Ready for Clash of SEC Heavyweights
It’s the SEC opener for the Crimson Tide, which has cruised past lightweights Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss in the past two weeks after opening the season with a closer-than-expected 33-23 win over West Virginia.
The Gators, looking to recover from a disastrous 4-8 season that included a season-ending seven-game losing streak, are 2-0 after beating Kentucky in overtime last week in Gainesville.