With no shortage of storylines, Bryant Denny Stadium hosted the 87th Iron Bowl under the lights.
An Alabama team clinging to hopes of a sixth-place finish for the New Year and an Auburn side picking up steam as coaching rumors swirled, each quickly turned to their strengths. The Crimson Tide relied on Bryce Young’s third-down conversion decision-making in what may be his last home game. The Tigers, meanwhile, ran the ball efficiently (7.4 yards per carry), led by Robby Ashford.
The home team won in Tuscaloosa with No. 7 Alabama (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) and drove a five-touchdown win over Auburn (5-7, 2-6) in the first half. Alabama passed Auburn in yards (516 to 395), first downs (26 to 21) and turned over the ball once compared to two fumbles by the Tigers.
The final score of 49-27 gives Tide bragging rights for the third straight year in this rivalry. Here’s a recap of what happened on Saturday night as the teams of Nick Saban and Cadillac Williams went head-to-head.
–Voice of the Tide Eli Gold was hoping to return to the dressing room for tonight’s game but is focused on his health.
–Left tackle Tyler Steen and center Seth McLaughlin worked with the first-team offensive line during the warm-up. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs was also in uniform.
– It’s Seniors’ Day for the Tide and about 15 minutes before kick-off, Saban snapped photos with the award winners and their families.
–Alabama won the draw and postponed it. Auburn started at his 16-yard line after a false start. Will Anderson brought Robby Ashford down in the first third of the game, forcing a throwaway.
–Good blocks from Seth McLaughlin and Emil Ekyior put Jahmyr Gibbs in for 13 yards on the opening snap for the tide offense. In third and third place, Bryce Young tried to get close to midfield but was pushed out of the field by Colby Wooden. Auburn regains possession after a touchback on James Burnip’s punt.
—Auburn 7, Alabama 0, 8:31 remaining: The Tigers moved the chains after Ashford escaped the pocket for a 25-yard scramble. Tank Bigsby missed a free rusher and jumped out for an 8-yard run a few plays later. After Camden Brown stopped Eli Ricks to get closer, Ashford climbed again, this time shaking past defenders near the goal line for a 24-yard score. The point of the ball has been checked and confirmed LANDING. Auburn rushed down in 3:10 and generated 80 yards in six games, almost entirely through the ground.
—Alabama 7, Auburn 7, 6:25 remaining: The Tide took the field after a strong return from Ja’Corey Brooks on his own 38-yard line. Cameron Latu had a pass that ricocheted off his hands near the touchline, but Young responded with a 52-yard bomb at Jermaine Burton, who worked to the right of Auburn’s defense. The Tide dealt with Auburn’s rush two snaps later and Young considered his options before crossing the goal line for five yards himself LANDING run. Alabama took 2:01 to react and connected the play with a five-play 62-yard drive.
– Emmanuel Henderson, a Geneva native and Alabama freshman, nearly blocked Oscar Chapman’s punt after Auburn went three and out.
—Alabama 14, Auburn 7, 1:37 remaining: Young hit in back-to-back plays and found Kendrick Law for 13 yards to get to Tide’s 46-yard line. Hall stayed down after the snap as the game went to timeout (eventually walked away on his own). Young kept finding other targets — Brooks for 11 yards, tight end Robbie Ouzts for 17, and finally Jase McClellan from the backfield — to give Tide the first lead with a 10-yard catch-and-run LANDING for McClellan.
–After a quick first-down throw, Jarquez Hunter smacked into tight-end John Samuel Shenker, fumbled and handed the ball back to Tide in midfield. DJ Dale recovered.
–Young was hanging in the bag to find Brooks and Isaiah Bond pushing into the red zone. The quarter ended at the five-yard line, with Tide in control and nearing a two-point lead.
—Alabama 21, Auburn 7, 2:56 p.m. Remaining: Roydell Williams wasted no time. He cut through the right side of the Tigers’ defense for five yards LANDING.
—Alabama 21, Auburn 14, 9:34 remaining: Auburn looked back at Hunter in his first snap after fumbling. He set up as a blocker in the backfield before countering for 19 yards and masking a false start that opened the drive. A first down run for Bigsby led to a 17-yard pass from Ashford to Koy Moore. Auburn converted a pair of third downs on the drive, including a 20-yard point from Ashford to Ja’Varrius Johnson near the back pylon for a LANDING. It was a late call from the official, but the Tigers’ touchline celebrated the 10-play, 75-yard drive.
—Alabama 28, Auburn 14, 5:39 remaining: Alabama started his next drive on his 5-yard line after a block-in-the-back flag on the kickoff. Two Auburn defensive players were injured, sending the game to multiple TV timeouts midway through the quarter. Young restarted the game with an 18-yard completion for Burton in third and 1st place. And after a holding penalty that set up a 3rd and 19th, Young Law hit for 39 yards and another conversion. Young then threw a jump ball towards the goal line which Brooks came down with. He celebrated the LANDING with the Crane Celebration, a favorite for tide wideouts.
–Will Reichard stuffed a 26-yard kickoff return after stepping up and pinning Hunter’s leg. A busy crowd then assisted with two false starts from Auburn, giving the Tigers five such fouls at halftime. Dallas Turner pocketed Ashford on the third and long, and although Kool-Aid McKinstry nearly muffed the punt, he fell on it to hand the ball to Alabama at his own 24-yard line. A third-down conversion to Ouzts was recalled due to an offensive pass interference on Brooks, which appeared to bring down the Ouzts defender.
—Alabama 35, Auburn 14, 5:39 remaining: Keionte Scott called for a fair catch and appeared to tip the ball as it hit the turf. Tide long snapper Keeland Hibbett rebounded on it and set up a fresh set of downs for Alabama at Auburn’s 37-yard line. The game was reviewed and the call was on the field. Tide center Seth McLaughlin limped off the field ahead of second and 20th place. But again, Young found space in the field and shot 21 yards on the next snap. Traeshon Holden crowned the quick score with 27 yards LANDING in one screen pass.
–Auburn came out with a first-down rush, but then Ashford had a trio of incompletions. Young got the ball at the 16-yard line with 13 seconds remaining. Cadillac Williams called a time-out after The Tide tried to turn the clock down and received a few boos from a pro-Alabama crowd waiting for halftime. The break began a game later.
—Alabama 42, Auburn 14, 9:57 remaining: Within three games, Alabama got the ball into Auburn territory. The Tigers couldn’t hold Young down for another long haul and couldn’t stop Bond and Burton from producing first-down receptions. Brooks then pulled a pass interference flag in the end zone and McClellan rushed over the goal line with a 2-yard run LANDING run, his second.
—Alabama 42, Auburn 21, 6:38 remaining: Auburn’s ground attack has performed well, as expected. Hunter positioned himself in the slot and caught an Ashford pitch, working against Alabama’s defense and finding a seam for 45 yards to the Tide 9-yard line. The next three games were off the shotgun and Ashford took the last one over the goal line for a 14-yard LANDING. The Tigers now have over 200 rushing yards as a team.
–A couple of close passes tipped Gibbs and Holden’s hands, but Alabama jabbed for the third time.
– Auburn created and ran through holes in the Alabama front. Drafted goalies for Ashford hauled 21 yards in two games and the Tigers are back in midfield. On a fourth and 1, Ashford received the snap under center and broke towards the Alabama sideline and turned a corner for a conversion.
—Alabama 42, Auburn 24, 12:18 remaining: Ashford went for 100 rushing yards with 20 more on scrambles, but a pass fell to the grass on the third down. Before Auburn could kick the field goal, it took a delay in the game, presumably to give freshman kicker Evan McPherson more room. He connected with a 32-yarder to reduce the deficit to 18.
–Young aimed for his tight ends as the clock fell below seven minutes. He glanced in Latu’s direction too many times, and linebacker Owen Pappoe jumped a short route for an interception, the game’s first tide turnover.
—Alabama 42, Auburn 27, 2:08 left: Ashford heard no bell. After Alabama had 12 players on the field and Auburn gave another crack in fourth, Ashford gained 31 yards on a broken play. The Tigers reached the Tide’s 22-yard line before a 39-yard field goal from McPherson.
—Alabama 49, Auburn 27, 1:48 remaining: Gibbs wasn’t done either. As the tide tried to drain the clock, Gibbs found a crease for 23 yards and a touchdown.