Rapid Reaction: Tagovailoa injury center stage in Alabama win over Mizzou
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For what felt like the longest 15 minutes in history, all Alabama fans collectively held their breath.
After sliding to end a run in the open field, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was slow to get up and had to be examined in the medical tent. His parents went in to see him.
Tagovailoa emerged and returned to the huddle, but he did not re-enter the game as Alabama pounded Missouri 39-10 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama was never in danger of losing the game, but Tagovailoa’s long-term health is now the most important story in college football. With Tagovailoa, Alabama is unbeatable. Without him, Alabama is still Alabama, but that invincibility takes a bit of a hit.
Luckily for the Crimson Tide, Jalen Hurts has stuck around, giving them a talented veteran to fill in if something happens to Tagovailoa.
Alabama did not score on its opening offensive play, but that’s only because Tagovailoa wanted an extra rep.
On Alabama’s second play, Tagovailoa threw a frozen rope to fellow sophomore Jerry Jeudy for an 81-yard touchdown to make it 7-0 less than 30 seconds into the contest.
Missouri’s first possession ended when cornerback Saivion Smith intercepted Drew Lock. Smith returned it inside the 15-yard line, but Alabama’s offense couldn’t capitalize and settled for a 30-yard field goal from Joseph Bulovas to make it 10-0 with 13:07 left in the first quarter.
Tagovailoa showed he is human on Alabama’s third possession, fumbling after being sacked. That led to a 30-yard field goal from Missouri’s Tucker McCann to make it 10-3 midway through the first quarter.
Like last week, Alabama put Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts on the field at the same time. On the first play, Hurts rolled out and found Damien Harris in the flat. Then things got interesting as Hurts lined up in the slot and caught a pass from Tagovailoa. The play drew a massive cheer from the crowd. Alabama settled for a field goal to make it 13-3, but that didn’t matter as fans saw both of their quarterbacks connect on a play.
Missouri hung around early. Aided by a horse-collar tackle penalty and big runs, the Tigers reached Alabama territory where Lock found Jalen Knox for a 20-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-10 before the end of the first quarter.
Alabama answered as Tagovailoa marched the Crimson Tide down the field for a score. He found tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to make it 20-10.
Tide defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs sacked Lock and forced a fumble which linebacker Anfernee Jennings recovered.
Alabama struck quickly as Tagovailoa found Devonta Smith for a 13-yard score to make it 27-10. Smith later left the game and headed to the locker room after being injured. He did not return.
Bulovas added another field goal late in the second quarter to make it 30-10 heading into halftime.
With the score 39-10, Missouri put together a nice 17-play drive to the Alabama 8, but it ended when Smith intercepted Lock for the second time in the game on fourth down on a pass in the end zone.