Bama uses big 2nd half to take down The Citadel
Tua Tagovailoa passed for 340 yards and three touchdowns but No. 1 Alabama struggled for 30-plus minutes before putting away The Citadel in a 50-17 victory on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (11-0), which had coasted against Southeastern Conference opponents, went into halftime tied 10-10 with the FCS Bulldogs (4-6).
It wasn't until 'Bama scored two touchdowns in a 12-second span on its way to a 27-point third quarter that the Tide could rest easy.
Tagovailoa completed 18 of 22 passes in three quarters, including touchdowns of 21 and 5 yards to Jaylen Waddle and a 68-yarder to tight end Irv Smith Jr. He broke AJ McCarron's school single-season record of 30 touchdown passes, reaching 31.
Damien Harris got most of his 83 yards on a 73-yard run in the fourth quarter, but was injured on the play. He stayed on the ground for a couple of minutes before trotting off after coach Nick Saban went across the field to check on him.
Henry Ruggs III gained 114 yards on six catches.
Dante Smith ran for a 45-yard touchdown in the first half and a 44-yarder in the fourth for The Citadel, whose triple option offense gave Alabama troubles at times. Smith finished with 130 yards on nine carries.
Quarterback Brandon Rainey attempted only two passes, both incomplete, but ran 25 times for 79 yards.
Alabama was coming off back-to-back shutouts of ranked SEC West rivals but lost two fumbles in this one.
Jacob Godek had sent Alabama into the half all even with a 48-yard field goal on the final play.
After the Tide fumbled away the second-half kickoff, the Bulldogs missed a field goal attempt that would have given them the lead.
Finally, Alabama's offense got going. Tagovailoa hit Ruggs down the right sideline for a 54-yard gain. Then he found Jaylen Waddle for a 5-yard touchdown and the Tide regained the lead.
Anfernee Jennings scooped and scored on an 18-yard fumble recovery shortly after that, and it was a more comfy 24-10 game with a lead that continued to grow.
THE BIG PICTURE
The Citadel: Managed to keep Alabama's offense off the field for large chunks of the first half, including 21 plays and trips across midfield on its two opening possessions. Had 60 carries for 275 yards.
Alabama: Didn't flex its muscles until the second half. Kicking troubles continued with Joseph Bulovas missing an extra point attempt and getting another blocked.
Alabama backup quarterback Jalen Hurts came into the game in the fourth quarter to a loud ovation. Hurts had missed the past two games with an ankle injury.
The Citadel closes the regular season against Charleston Southern.
Alabama tries to complete a perfect regular season at home against rival Auburn in the Iron Bowl.