If not for Western Kentucky’s offense, Alabama’s may not have scored. The top-ranked Tide have turned two turnovers into touchdowns to take a 17-3 lead over the Hilltoppers at the midway mark in Tuscaloosa.
After forcing Alabama into a punt on 4th-and-38 at its own 8-yard line, Western Kentucky took possession of the ball at its own 47 with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter of a 3-3 game. The Hilltoppers tried to trick Alabama by having wide receiver Nacarius Fant toss a reverse pass. It didn’t work. Ronnie Harrison intercepted the pass, allowing Alabama to move 67 yards in nine plays on a tired WKU defense, setting up a four-yard scoring strike from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley.
Western Kentucky’s defense forced a three-and-out on Alabama’s next possession, but Eddie Jackson snared a Mike White pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
Hurts threw the ball well in the half — 10-of-13 for 152 yards and a touchdown — but was replaced for Blake Barnett late in the half, who hit two of his six passes for 64 yards.
The Tide has struggled tremendously to run the ball, accumulating just 13 yards in 16 credited rushes. Damien Harris leads the club with 18 yards on six attempts.
Alabama’s defense, though, has largely erased WKU’s vaunted offense. White has completed 9-of-22 passes for 126 yards and a pick-six, and WKU has rushed 13 times for 37 yards. They did march 57 yards to set up a field goal try on the final play of the half, but it was partially blocked and fell short of the end zone.
Alabama will receive to open the second half.