The Tide stomps on the Mercer Bears
By WVUA 23 digital reporter Hunter De Siver
The Million Dollar Band plays “We are the Champions” as you walk into Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tens of thousands of people sing along to the Queen classic to celebrate the Tide’s national championship victory back in January.
A few minutes later, the crowd starts to pile in wearing polos, dresses, suits and Alabama apparel. With shakers in their hands, they shake to the beat of each song played by the band and the stadium speakers.
Ten minutes before the game begins, all-time great head coach Nick Saban leads the team out of the tunnel as the song Thunderstruck plays.
The crowd gets louder as the starting lineup is announced, and before you know it, it’s time to start the game.
Saturday the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide went head-to-head with the Mercer Bears. Both teams went into this week with a 1-0 record.
Last week, Mercer beat Point University 69-0, while Alabama beat No. 14 Miami 44-13. With both teams coming off dominant victories, they put their undefeated seasons on the line.
As Mercer was kicking off, every Alabama fan screamed at the top of their lungs “ROOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL TIDE ROLL!”.
Bryce Young and company took the field in hopes to score momentarily.
Last home opener with full capacity, Tua Tagovailoa threw a screen pass to Henry Ruggs III for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
However, on this drive, the Tide went three-and-out and were forced to punt.
Mercer and Bama both had to punt on the next two drives.
Bama was able to force yet another three-and-out, which forced Mercer to attempt a punt. When Mercer snapped the ball, Alabama linebacker Chris Braswell blocked the punt as running back Jase McClellan picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown from 33 yards out to make it 7-0 (Will Reichard kick) with 6:39 left in the first quarter.
On the very next drive, Mercer quarterback Carter Peevy threw an interception to world-renowned freshman Kool-Aid McKinstry.
Through multiple run-plays by running back Brian Robinson Jr. and a couple of passes to JoJo Earle, the Tide found themselves on Mercer’s four-yard line. Robinson simply ran it in to put the Tide up 14-0 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
On Bama’s next drive Young took charge. He had multiple completions to John Metchie III, to put them in the red zone. Young then threw an 18-yard touchdown to wide receiver Slade Bolden to make the score 21-0.
After trading punts, Mercer was on their own six-yard line. They went three-and-out and punted it to Earle. Earle had a great return all the way to Mercer’s 26-yard line.
They eventually found themselves on fourth down and one yard to go on the five-yard line. Jase McClellan took the handoff and ran it in for six to put Bama up 28-0.
After Bama stifled Mercer once again, they were able to get down the field easily through multiple runs by running back Trey Sanders. Will Reichard then split the uprights to end the half 31-0.
Mercer received the ball to start the second half. On one of their first plays, Bama star linebacker Will Anderson’s right knee buckled and he limped off the field. He would not return the rest of the game and is questionable for next week.
On Bama’s first possession of the second half, Young connected with Metchie for 41 yards to the Mercer’s 16-yard line. Two plays later, Young hit receiver Jameson Williams for an eight-yard touch to go up 38-0.
When Mercer got the ball back, they finally made it down the field. Quarterback Fred Payton threw a deep ball to receiver Devron Harper for a 60-yard touchdown. The score was now 38-7 with 8:21 left in the third quarter.
The Tide rolled right back as Jase McClellan had a receiving touchdown from 21 yards out. They were now up 45-7.
On Mercer’s next possession, Payton threw an interception to junior DB Marcus Banks. Banks had to fully turn around and slide to make the pick. It was one of the best plays of the game.
Paul Tyson then took over at QB, but they were already in field goal range. Reichard came in to kick a field goal as everyone in the stadium expected it to go in. Reichard missed his first field goal and/or extra point since he’s played at UA.
After the song ended, Mercer took the momentum from the missed field goal and scored a 22-yard touchdown to make the score 45-14.
After the touchdown, the song “Dixieland Delight” was played in the stadium. At least 50,000 people were singing this song that brought everyone together. It reminded everyone how long it’s been since there was a full capacity stadium due to COVID-19.
Reichard then hit a 40-yard field goal on their next drive to put them up 48-14. That would end up being the final score.
Bryce Young finished the game with 19/27 completions for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
Brian Robinson Jr. finished the game with 10 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown.
JoJo Earle finished the game with seven receptions for 85 yards.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to Gainsville next week in an SEC Championship rematch against Florida.