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McCarron, Richardson lead No. 3 Alabama over Georgia Southern

Nov 20, 2011 - 1:11 AM Tuscaloosa, AL (Sports Network) - AJ McCarron threw for three touchdowns and Trent Richardson ran for two, leading No. 3 Alabama to a 45-21 victory over Georgia Southern.

McCarron completed 14-of-19 passes for 190 yards, while Richardson totaled 175 yards on 32 carries for the Crimson Tide (10-1), who reached 10 victories for the fourth consecutive season.

They have won two in a row since dropping a 9-6 overtime decision against LSU, and could find themselves back in the championship mix. While Alabama entered this weekend ranked third in the BCS standings, second-ranked Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State on Friday. LSU is the only undefeated team left from a BCS conference.

Dominique Swope ran for 153 yards and a score on 18 carries for the Eagles (9-2), who won the FCS' Southern Conference title this season.

"They are one of the better top couple teams in their division," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "They run an offense (triple option) that is very difficult to defend, especially when we don't play against them a lot."

Jeremy Shelley kicked a 32-yard field goal on Alabama's first possession, and the Crimson Tide pushed its lead to 10 thanks to a defensive play. On the ensuing possession, Georgia Southern's Adrian Mora lined up for a 42-yard field goal, but Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick blocked it and returned the ball 55 yards for a touchdown.

"It was such a disappointment," Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken said of the blocked kick. "We haven't had that happen all year. We haven't missed a field goal or an extra point all year. We just let a guy leak through the line."

McCarron's four-yard TD pass to Richardson early in the second quarter gave Alabama a 17-0 advantage, but Swope's 82-yard run on the first play of the Eagles' following drive put Georgia Southern on the board.

But Alabama responded with a methodical drive that Richardson closed with five consecutive runs. The last was a one-yard plunge into the end zone, making it a 24-7 game with a little more than six minutes left in the half.

Georgia Southern quarterback Jaybo Shaw recorded his only completion during the Eagles' next drive, but it was a big one. He connected with Johnathan Bryant for a 39-yard touchdown with a minute left, and the Eagles faced a 24-14 deficit at the break.

They kept hanging around in the third quarter, after McCarron hooked up with tight end Brad Smelley for a 34-yard score midway through the frame. Like Swope's 82-yard run in the second quarter, the points came on a big play -- Laron Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to the end zone.

But the Eagles couldn't get closer than 31-21. Alabama took control of the game with another long drive -- this one a 74-yard march that Richardson ended with a one-yard run.

It put the Crimson Tide ahead by 17 late in the third quarter, and they used another long drive to secure the win. Starting from their own eight-yard line with 9:20 left in the game, the Crimson Tide reached the end zone in 15 plays. McCarron ended the march with a four-yard strike to Smelley with 44 seconds to play.

Game Notes

Richardson's first rushing touchdown was his 20th of the season, breaking Shaun Alexander's school record of 19 set in 1999...Georgia Southern recorded 302 rushing yards, but only 341 yards total...Alabama converted 7-of-10 third-down opportunities. It was 5-for-5 in the red zone.