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October 19, 2013

ALABAMA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Drake's speed helps Tide run away with 7th win

TUSCALOOSA — The only one who could stop Kenyan Drake on the Alabama running back's fifth carry Saturday night was his own offensive lineman. And even then, the sophomore was merely slowed, but only for a second.

After the initial setback, the speedster known simply as the “road runner” turned on the moves — and the jets — cutting right and then outrunning two Arkansas defenders down the sideline on his way to the end zone for an electrifying 46-yard touchdown.

Beep beep, indeed.

The score was Drake's second of the evening — his first came on a 1-yarder in the opening quarter — and had the top-ranked Tide well on their way to an eventual 52-0 shutout of the Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The tailback tandem of Drake (104) and T.J. Yeldon (86) nearly topped 100 rushing yards together for a second straight week, but it was more than OK they came up short, as Drake and Derrick Henry combined for the feat instead. The freshman capped off a game-high 111-yard performance with a sensational 80-yard scoring scamper in the final minute.

Drake finished the first half with 86 rushing yards, more than half coming on the touchdown run and another 23 on the ensuing drive to set up Alabama's fourth touchdown.

Two plays after Drake sprinted all the way to Arkansas' 30 — and one after Amari Cooper dropped a sideline pass from AJ McCarron — Cooper earned immediate redemption by hauling in a perfect throw from his senior signal-caller.

The touchdown was the first of the season for the sophomore, who, despite battling injuries early, has had to deal with sky-high expectations following a spectacular freshman campaign.

Speaking of firsts, freshman tight end O.J. Howard roped in the first touchdown of his promising young career early in the third quarter. Three plays after Henry forced a fumble that Eddie Jackson recovered on the second-half kickoff, a wide-open Howard caught a short pass from McCarron and took it 17 yards for the score.

If sharing is indeed caring, McCarron truly does care about his wide receiving corps. Each of the quarterback's three touchdowns were thrown to different targets — Jalston Fowler (4 yards), Cooper (30) and Howard (17). Before stepping aside for backup Blake Sims, McCarron spread his 15 completions among eight receivers.

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