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Fast start helps Alabama Crimson Tide tear apart Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ student section was slow to show up to Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff against Alabama. To be fair, so was the Razorbacks’ defense. Alabama continued what has become a weekly routine of fast starts as it recorded touchdowns on its opening three possessions en route to an easy 65-31 victory.

The Crimson Tide scored on its first play from scrimmage as Tua Tagovailoa hit Irv Smith for a short pass which the tight end took 76 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Alabama’s next strike was a bit more complicated but yielded the same result. On Alabama’s third offensive play of the game, Tagovailoa hit Smith for a 47-yard pass which the tight end fumbled at the 12-yard line. Receiver Henry Ruggs then scooped the ball up and ran it into the end zone. A 1-yard run from Josh Jacobs on Alabama’s next possession gave the Crimson Tide a 21-0 lead before most fans finished their second cup of coffee.

Tagovailoa went on to toss a pair of touchdowns to Jerry Jeudy before the half as Alabama cruised to a 41-14 lead at the break. The Crimson Tide’s 463 yards at halftime mark the fifth time it has gained 340 or more total yards in the first half this season. Alabama is now averaging 375.6 yards in total offense in the first half. The Crimson Tide piled up season-high 639 yards of total offense on the day while also reaching its highest points total of the year.

Tagovailoa added to his early Heisman campaign, finishing the game 10 of 13 for 334 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Through Alabama’s first six games, the sophomore quarterback has completed 75.2 percent of his passes for 1,495 yards and 18 touchdowns without an interception. Alabama’s single-season record for passing touchdown is 30 held by AJ McCarron in 2012. Halfway through the regular season, Tagovailoa is on pace for 36 scores through the air.

Jeudy led Alabama with 135 yards and the two scores on four receptions. Smith had his first career 100-yard receiving game, pulling in two catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Damien Harris led Alabama on the ground with 111 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. It was Harris’ first 100-yard game of the season.

While’s Alabama’s offense cut through Arkansas with ease, it’s defense struggled at times against the Razorbacks. The Crimson Tide gave up a season-high 405 yards and 24 points on the day.

It could have been worse if not for a timely turnover near the end zone as linebacker Dylan Moses forced a fumble by Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey that safety Deionte Thompson recovered at the 1-yard line in the second quarter. Earlier in the game, Isaiah Buggs recovered a fumble after sacking Storey on Arkansas’ first possession. Shyheim Carter scored his second defensive touchdown of the season, returning an interception 44 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

Alabama has forced at least one forced turnover in 48 of its last 50 games dating to the start of the 2015 season. During the current run, the Crimson Tide has forced 85 total turnovers with 20 resulting in touchdowns.

Alabama returns home to Bryant-Denny Stadium next for its homecoming game against Missouri on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.

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