Recap: Alabama vs. Western Carolina
Tuscaloosa, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Derrick Henry scored three touchdowns to help No. 2 Alabama to a 48-14 win over Western Carolina on Saturday.
Henry rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns and added a 9-yard touchdown catch for the Crimson Tide (10-1), who took a break from their SEC schedule with an FCS opponent prior to next week's Iron Bowl against arch-rival Auburn.
Blake Sims was 17-of-25 passing for 222 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the win.
Alabama star wide receiver Amari Cooper left the game with an apparent left knee injury after taking a hard hit in the first quarter. Cooper had three receptions for 46 yards.
Chris Black took over in his absence and hauled in six passes for 101 yards.
Troy Mitchell threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns to Spearman Robinson for Western Carolina (7-5), which has lost all four meetings with the Crimson Tide.
Western Carolina got off to a promising start as Mitchell's 2-yard touchdown pass to Robinson capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive on the opening possession of the game.
"I don't think that we started the game out the way we'd hoped to or how we planned," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We wanted to maintain focus, and I thought the players did a really good job all week of practicing well and preparing for the game."
But Alabama, which can clinch a spot in the SEC championship game with a win over Auburn, responded with 17 straight points, though it lost Cooper in the process.
On 3rd-and-20, Cooper ran a dig route and caught the ball along the near sideline before racing inside the Catamounts 4 for a 27-yard gain.
Cooper, a favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation's top receiver, took a solid hit to the left knee and limped off the field to the sideline.
After receiving attention from medical personnel, Cooper walked into the locker room for further observation. He jogged out to the field moments later, but he still moved with a noticeable limp and did not return.
Fellow wide receiver DeAndrew White (hamstring) and running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) were held out of the lineup due to injury.
The Crimson Tide tied the game a play later on Sims' 4-yard toss to Cam Sims.
Gunnar Raborn, who filled in for Adam Griffith, kicked a 20-yard field goal late in the first and Henry's 10-yard touchdown run early in the second gave the hosts a 17-7 advantage.
Following a Henry fumble later in the quarter, Mitchell and Robinson hooked up again for another touchdown that cut the deficit to three.
Alabama crushed any hope of an upset victory from the Catamounts with 21 straight points to end the half.
Tyren Jones capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a 7-yard TD scamper and Henry bolted into the end zone from 23 yards out to make it 31-14 with 3:16 left. Sims threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Henry with under a minute left to make it 38-14
Jake Coker came on at quarterback to begin the second half and led a 51-yard drive out of the locker room that resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Raborn.
Western Carolina drove deep into Alabama territory on its ensuing possession, but a fake field goal attempt on fourth down was unsuccessful. Coker then led another scoring drive, completing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Michael Nysewander to account for the final margin.
"Coach Saban's built a dynasty, and we got a lot of respect for that," said Catamounts coach Mark Speir.Game Notes
Yeldon, White and Griffith were all considered day-to-day throughout the week
... Alabama routed Western Carolina 49-0 in the last meeting between the teams
in 2012 ... The Crimson Tide converted 36 first downs compared to just 12 for
the Catamounts ... Western Carolina had negative-8 yards rushing ... Alabama
outgained the Catamounts 612-213.