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October 28, 2012

McCarron leaves with injury, will play next week

TUSCALOOSA | Call it the nightmare scenario, take two.

Just as he did two weeks earlier at Missouri, University of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron went down with an injury Saturday in the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide's 38-7 victory over Mississippi State.

At Missouri, McCarron sustained a knee bruise, but finished the game without missing a play. This time, McCarron was taken to the locker room after bruising his back on a sack late in the third quarter. He returned to the sideline, but with Alabama increasing its lead to 31 points in his absence he did not return, although UA coach Nick Saban said he could have and will be ready for next weekend's game at LSU.

"He's got a back contusion," Saban said. "That's what he got."

McCarron started the night as the hottest guy in cold-and-blustery Bryant-Denny Stadium. He completed nine of his first 11 attempts for 130 yards and two touchdowns to spot the Crimson Tide a 21-0 lead before the second quarter was even a couple of minutes old, and was 14-for-19 for 177 yards by halftime.

He cooled down with the temperature after intermission and finished 16-of-23 for 208 yards without playing a single snap in the fourth quarter. McCarron extended his streak of passes without an interception to 262, second-longest in Southeastern Conference history to former Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson's streak of 325 straight passes without being picked off.

Before being sidelined, McCarron flashed the form that has made him an emerging Heisman Trophy candidate against a defense stacked to slow UA's running attack. He showed tremendous touch in catching Kenny Bell in stride for a 57-yard touchdown and precision timing on two over-the-shoulder passes to Christion Jones.

"All the receivers do a good job at playing fast and getting the timing on when we're going to stick and make our move and AJ does a good job with the ball placement," Jones said.

Blake Sims gained 19 yards on three carries as a replacement at quarterback and Phillip Ely threw a hot screen pass to Eddie Lacy for a 27-yard touchdown, showing that there is depth behind McCarron.

"It gives us a little different pitch to the defense when he's in the game," Saban said of Sims.

Tight end Michael Williams caught five passes for 38 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown in the second quarter, with the five receptions setting a career high for the Pickens County High School product.

In all, seen different receivers caught at least one pass for Alabama.

Freshmen T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake each had a rushing touchdown, with Yeldon gaining 84 yards on 10 carries and Drake gaining 47 yards on eight attempts in the fourth quarter. Lacy was held to 26 yards on 10 attempts, but gained 51 yards on four receptions catching passes out of the backfield.

Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.

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