Alabama defeats Arkansas 42-35, clinches SEC Championship berth
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama survived a tough fight from Arkansas, defeating the Razorbacks 42-35 to clinch a spot in the SEC Championship game against Georgia.
Alabama’s defense got off to a fast start, forcing an Arkansas punt on the first drive of the game. The Tide offense would start well, driving all the way to Arkansas’s 30 yard line, but the Razorback defense would step up, forcing the Tide to turnover on downs.
On the very next play, the Arkansas offense would fumble the ball, which would be recovered by linebacker Dallas Turner, giving Alabama the ball in Arkansas field position. The Arkansas defense would hold Alabama to a 48 yard field goal, giving the Tide a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. After forcing another Arkansas punt, Alabama would score on a 98 yard drive capped off by a touchdown from Bryce Young to John Metchie III, giving Alabama a 10-0 lead.
The Razorbacks would come back later with a long drive of their own, when Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson found Treylon Burks for a touchdown, cutting the Alabama lead to 10-7. This would be one of four straight drives that ended in touchdowns, including a 79 yard touchdown from Bryce Young to Jameson Williams. Alabama would go into halftime with a 24-14 lead over the Razorbacks.
At the start of the second half, the Tide would drive 75 yards down the field, with Bryce Young finding Christian Leary for an 11 yard touchdown, Leary’s first touchdown as a member of the Crimson Tide. But Alabama’s 31-14 lead would be short lived, with KJ Jefferson finding Treylon Burks, cutting Alabama’s lead to 31-21. Will Reichard would kick 30 yard field goal before the end of the quarter, giving Alabama a 34-21 lead heading into the fourth.
Arkansas would cut the lead to single digits again, when punter Reid Bauer threw a 32 yard touchdown to Blake Kern on a fake field goal, cutting Alabama’s lead to 34-28. The Tide would drive down the field again, but a fumble would give Arkansas the ball at their one yard line and a chance to take the lead. However, Alabama’s defense stepped up to force a punt, and Bryce Young would find Jameson Williams for another touchdown, giving the Tide a 42-28 lead.
KJ Jefferson would find Raheim Sanders for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but a failed onside kick would give the Tide the ball, and the win, 42-35.
Quarterback Bryce Young set an Alabama record with 561 passing yards, the second most in SEC history, and five touchdowns. Running back Brian Robinson ran for 122 yards, and wide receivers John Metchie and Jameson Williams combined for four touchdowns.
The Tide will travel to Auburn to face the Tigers in the Iron Bowl, before going to Atlanta to take on the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs for the SEC Championship.
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