TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WATE) — Tennessee put forth a strong effort but No. 4 Alabama flexed its muscle and showed why they’re a national title contender with a 52-24 win over Tennessee Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Penalties haunted Tennessee once again, the Vols finished the game with 12 penalties for 98 yards.
The Crimson Tide opened up the scoring when Brian Robinson scampered in from eight yards out to cap a 12 play 85 yard drive taking up 5:24 to give Alabama a 7-0 lead.
The Volunteers quick strike offense answered with an eight play 75 yard drive. Hendon Hooker hit Velus Jones Jr for an eight yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7.
After a roughing the kicker penalty on 4th and 23 gave Tennessee new life, the Vols capitalized with a 57 yard touchdown pass from Hooker to JaVonta Payton to give the Volunteers their first lead of the game at 14-7 with :26 remaining in the first quarter.
Hooker finished 19/28 for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Alabama got the scoring started in the 2nd quarter when Bryce Young scrambled to the right finding paydirt from five yards out to tie the game at 14 with 9:27 to play in the half.
The Tide struck again with 2:34 left in the half when Young found John Metchie on a six yard touchdown pass capping a 12 play 79 yard drive taking up 5:18 to give Alabama a 21-14 lead.
Young, who came into the game as a Heisman Trophy contender, finished 31/43 for 371 yards and 2 touchdowns.
After holding Alabama to a second straight three and out to start the 2nd half, Deshawn Rucker blocked a Tide punt to set the Volunteers up with the ball at the 16 yard line. Chase McGrath knocked in a 33 yard field goal to pull Tennessee within four at 21-17 with 9:44 to play in the 3rd quarter.
Alabama responded with a 10 play 47 yard drive ending in a Will Reichard 45 yard field goal to extend the lead to 24-17 with 6:22 to play in the 3rd quarter.
The Crimson Tide extended the lead when Bryce Young recovered his own fumble in the end zone. The play was reviewed but confirmed as a touchdown. Josh Heupel was visibly frustrated with the referees after the review.
The quick strike Tennessee offense responded with a two play 75 yard drive ending with a Hooker to Tillman 70 yard touchdown. Hooker hit Tillman in stride on the deep ball pulling Tennessee back within seven at 31-24 with 14:30 remaining in the game.
Brian Robinson found the end zone next, a powerful run from 15 yards out to extend the lead back to 14 with 12:42 to play. Robinson finished with 26 carries for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns.
On the next possession, Hooker threw his first interception since the fourth quarter against Pitt back in September. The Tide turned that into seven more points when Robinson punched it in from a yard out to give Alabama a 45-24 lead with 8:51 to play in the game.