EditorsNote: Tweaks 4th, 5th grafs
Tua Tagovailoa threw four touchdown passes, and No. 2 Alabama pulled away from Duke for a 42-3 season-opening victory Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Three of the touchdown tosses came in a 21-point third quarter. Tagovailoa finished with 336 passing yards, completing 26 of 31 throws.
Alabama’s defense controlled much of the game. Duke compiled 204 yards of total offense, picking up only 11 first downs compared to Alabama’s 30.
It was the Crimson Tide’s first game since they were blasted by Clemson in January’s national championship game.
Duke quarterback Quentin Harris, making his first opening day start, was limited to 97 yards on 12-for-22 passing. He was a starter in two victories last year when eventual first-round NFL draft pick Daniel Jones was injured.
Harris threw two interceptions as part of Duke’s three turnovers.
The Blue Devils lost their opener for the first time in eight years.
Duke’s inability to move the ball resulted in Alabama holding more than a 13-minute advantage in time of possession.
Tagovailoa’s touchdown passes went to four different recipients. He threw for a 27-yard score to Miller Forristall in the second quarter to open the scoring. Brian Robinson Jr.’s 1-yard run pushed the margin to 14-0.
In the third quarter, Tagovailoa had a 1-yard scoring toss to Major Tennison, an 8-yard strike to DeVonta Smith and a 21-yard touchdown throw to Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy, the 2018 winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver, racked up 137 yards on 10 catches.
Jerome Ford scored on a 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Duke pulled within 14-3 on AJ Reed’s 30-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play in the first half.
The Blue Devils threatened in the first quarter but stalled on a fourth-down play inside the Alabama 10-yard line.
This was the first Alabama-Duke meeting since 2010, when the Crimson Tide won 62-13 at Duke. The Blue Devils are coached by Alabama alum David Cutcliffe.
—Field Level Media