TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The loudest cheer heard inside a partially-full Bryant-Denny Stadium came after Saturday’s game was already decided. Jogging out to the field with a 28-point lead and 53 seconds left in the first quarter, Jalen Hurts was greeted with the same fervor he’s helped stir up the past two seasons.
As in Alabama’s past four games, Hurts entered the Crimson Tide’s 56-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette behind starter Tua Tagovailoa. What made Saturday’s appearance significant was that it marked Hurts fifth game this season, forfeiting his opportunity to redshirt and sealing his spot on the team for the remainder of the season.
Due to a new NCAA rule, Hurts, who is set to graduate in December, could have maintained his redshirt status had he not played another game this season. After losing his starting job to Tagovailoa, he could taken the same path as recently-demoted Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant who elected to transfer earlier this week. Instead, Hurts joined the rest of his teammates in yet another offensive explosion.
Hurts completed 4 of 6 passes for 118 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III on his first drive on the field. Ruggs finished with a career-best five catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Jaylen Waddle also had a career day, hauling in three receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Waddle caught his first collegiate touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Tagovailoa in the second quarter before scoring on a 94-yard pass from Mac Jones. Earlier in the game, the freshman receiver recorded his first punt-return touchdown, returning the ball 63-yard to the end zone.
Tagovailoa put together a flawless performance, completing all eight of his passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Jones’ 94-yard strike to Waddle was the first touchdown of his college career.
After being held to a season-low 109 yards on the ground last week, Alabama ran for 268 yards against ULL. Najee Harris led the way for the Crimson Tide with 73 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Josh Jacobs added a pair of scores and 49 yards on six carries. Jacobs’ two trips to the end zone give him a team-high five rushing touchdowns this season. Brian Robinson rushed for a career-high 65 yards on 12 carries.
Deionte Thompson tallied a team-high seven tackles, while Trevon Diggs recorded his first career interception. With Diggs’ pick, every member of Alabama’s starting secondary has recorded at least one interception this season.
Alabama will return to conference play next when it travels to Arkansas for an 11:00 a.m. CT kickoff.