The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Tuscaloosa, AL

No. 2 Bama tops Charleston Southern 56-6

2865 days ago
Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Cyrus Jones and No. 3 Alabama left Bryant-Denny Stadium in high style even for a game against a lower division team.

Jones returned two punts for touchdowns in his home finale and Derrick Henry also scored twice as the Crimson Tide romped past Charleston Southern 56-6 Saturday.

"I'm just happy I went out the way I did, in kind of dramatic fashion," Jones said. "It's something I'll never forget."

It turned into a three-hour celebration, and not just for the seniors.

The Tide (10-1, No. 2 CFP) led 49-0 by halftime against the Buccaneers (9-2), who are bound for the FCS playoffs. Alabama is hoping to join them in the FBS version and can clinch an SEC West title with a win next week at Auburn.

Jones scored on returns of 43 and 72 yards. He's the only Alabama player to score twice on punt returns, according to school records dating to 1944. He's also the first Tide player to have touchdowns on punt returns in consecutive games.

The players apparently heeded coach Nick Saban's caution about this game, which included a mid-week rant to reporters. The 49 first-half points were the most under Saban.

"Sometimes we've played a little lackluster in games like this, especially this time of the year," he said. "But I told them if you're not inspired to play every play that you play then you're kind of cheating yourself."

Henry tied Trent Richardson's Alabama single-season record of 21 touchdowns before sitting out the second half. He had nine carries for 68 yards.

The few remaining fans gave a big cheer in the final minutes after No. 9 Michigan State upset No. 2 Ohio State. The Buckeyes knocked Alabama from the playoffs last season en route to a national title.

"You could tell the fans were going crazy," Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland said, adding that he'd "love to play them" again.

This game had no such drama, as expected.

The starters posted good numbers before giving way to the backups for much of the game.

Jake Coker completed 11 of 13 passes for 155 yards with a 30-yard touchdown to Calvin Ridley and a 21-yarder to Richard Mullaney -- who stuck his left foot down while falling out of bounds -- before heading to the sidelines. Henry scored on runs of 17 and 2 and has touchdowns in 16 consecutive games.

Freshmen Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough added short touchdown runs. Alabama had eight players run the ball and 10 catch passes from three different quarterbacks.

Alabama outgained the Buccaneers 403-134 and didn't punt.

Charleston Southern started backup quarterback Kyle Copeland instead of Austin Brown with the program's first playoff game awaiting. The Buccaneers came in riding an eight-game winning streak.

Copeland was 3 of 7 passing for 46 yards and ran 15 times for 25 yards. Leading rusher Darius Hammond played little on offense, carrying three times for minus-3.

"Well, the outcome was probably what we expected," Charleston Southern coach Jamey Chadwell said, noting that the primary goal was to avoid injuries.

Chadwell did take solace in one regard: "I do think we had more yards rushing than (LSU's) Leonard Fournette did, though." The Buccaneers gained 85 to Fournette's 31 against the Tide.

This game was clearly a mismatch from the outset, with Alabama at one point gaining 154 yards while Charleston Southern had minus-7.

The Tide still managed to turn in highlight reel plays even with little drama in the game, especially Jones. He batted a pitch down in Charleston Southern's backfield and nearly scored again right after his second TD, making it to the 6.

Jones also ran back a punt last week against Mississippi State.