TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Before a crowd of 73,506, the White Team defeated the Crimson Team, 17-13, in the 2014 Alabama Football Golden Flake A-Day Spring Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in perfect weather conditions Saturday afternoon.
"I didn't think the consistency on offense was what I would've liked for it to have been today," said head coach Nick Saban. "We did make some plays, but there wasn't the consistency that you would like to see in the offense.
"However, when you play against each other, what's good for one is not so good for the other. So, you have to give the defense some credit. I really thought that our front people on defense made a lot of improvement this spring. We're more athletic, we probably have more depth, we have more guys that can rush, and I think that showed up in the game today."
Running back T.J. Yeldon, playing for the Crimson team, earned the Dixie Howell Award given to the game's most valuable player after totaling 104 yards on the day (95 rushing, 9 receiving), including one rushing touchdown. Yeldon led all players in rushing yardage in the game. It marked the third consecutive year for Yeldon to win the honor.
Linebacker DJ Pettway of the White team and defensive lineman Jonathan Allenof the Crimson Team were voted co-winners of the Dwight Stephenson Lineman of the Game Award given to the game's most valuable lineman. Allen was credited with six tackles in the game, including 5 solo stops, and had 2 quarterback sacks for 10 yards along with 4 tackles for losses totaling 18 yards, in addition to blocking a field goal attempt. Pettway had 2 tackles on the day and made one of the game's biggest plays, intercepting a pass that he returned 29 yards for the game's first touchdown.
White Team quarterback Cooper Bateman finished the day completing 11 of 24 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown without throwing an interception. Crimson Team quarterback Blake Simscompleted 13 of 30 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown with 2 interceptions. The Crimson Team totaled 297 total yards (119 rushing, 178 passing) on the day while the White Team finished with 219 total yards (54 rushing, 165 passing). The teams combined for six turnovers, three by each team.
After a scoreless first half in which both teams gained 116 yards of total offense, the White team broke on top early in the third quarter when defensive end DJ Pettway intercepted a Blake Simspass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Griffith's kick gave the White a 7-0 lead with 10:20 left in the third quarter.
The Crimson Team responded a few moments later when T.J. Yeldon scored on a 1-yard run with 6:38 left in the third quarter. Griffith's kick tied the game. After a 40-yard punt by Alec Morris was downed at the White Team 9-yard line, Crimson Team defensive back Maurice Smith forced a fumble by Crimson Team running back Kenyan Drake at the White Team 12-yard line following a 3-yard gain. White Team linebacker Tim Williamsrecovered the fumble and returned it 5 yards to the White Team 7-yard line. After Yeldon carried for 6 yards on first down, another Yeldon carry for a yard yielded the game-tying touchdown.
The White Team's offense responded to that miscue with its most sustained drive of the game to that point, moving 46 yards in 10 plays to Griffith's go-ahead field goal. A pass from Bateman to ArDarius Stewart for 27 yards highlighted the drive. Altee Tenpenny rushed 5 times for 12 yards on the drive leading to Adam Griffith's41-yard field goal on the final play of the third quarter gave the White Team a 10-7 lead.
With 3:42 left and holding onto that lead, the White Team took possession at the Crimson 45-yards line after a punt. On the first play, Tenpenny broked free for 16 yards to the Crimson 29. After another Tenpenny run on the next play lost three yards, Bateman connected with ArDarius Stewartfor a 32-yard touchdown pass with 2:37 remaining. Griffith's kick gave the White a 17-7 lead.
After an interception by the White Team's Reggie Ragland on the next possession seemed to seal the outcome, the Crimson Team forced a punt by the White Team with 1:14 left. Sims and the Crimson Team engineered an explosive drive in response, marching 79 yards in only 4 plays to pull within 17-13. Sims connected with wide receiver Chris Blackon a 55-yard pass play with 21 seconds showing on the clock. Griffith's kick was blocked.
The onsides kick by the Crimson Team was successful, setting them up at the White 40. Sims and Black connected again, this time for 20 yards to the White 25, but the clock expired and the game ended there.
White Team linebacker Reggie Ragland of the Crimson team had a game-high 10 tackles (2.5 for losses) and an interception. Crimson Team linebacker Dillon Lee had 9 tackles to lead his squad. Other top tacklers were Jonathan Allen (Crimson) with 6 tackles, 2 sacks (10 yards), 4 tackles for loss (18 yards), a blocked field goal and a quarterback hurry; Trey Depriest (White) with 7 tackles, one-half tackle for loss (1 yard); and defensive back Maurice Smith(Crimson) had 6 tackles and forced a fumble.
Chris Black led all receivers with 78 yards and a touchdown on 3 catches. Robert Foster led all receivers with 4 catches for 50 yards. Amari Cooper (Crimson) had 3 catches for 45 yards, Cyrus Jones (Crimson) had 3 catches for 22 yards and ArDarius Stewart(White) had 2 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Alec Morrispunted for both teams. He punted 15 times for an average of 38.4 yards per punt with 576 total yards. Five of Morris's punts were downed inside the opposing 20-yard line.
The attendance of 73,506 is the eighth-largest spring game attendance total at Alabama. More than 665,500 fans have attended the eight A-Day games during Saban's tenure as head coach, including 90,000 plus in three of the eight years.