Cougars fall just short to Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.--Houston had a chance to pull off a come-from-behind win against Alabama on Saturday, but Alabama senior defensive back Simeon Castille intercepted an end-zone pass from Cougars redshirt freshman quarterback Case Keenum as time expired to preserved the Crimson Tide’s 30-24 win before 92,138 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Cougars, who fell behind 23-0 in the first quarter and trailed by 16 at halftime, outscored Alabama 14-0 in the fourth quarter to set up the dramatic conclusion.
Keenum (11-of-17, 132 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception) scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 12:30 left in the game that reduced the Crimson Tide’s lead to 30-17.
Senior running back Anthony Alridge (211 all-purpose yards, 1 TD) caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Keenum that cut pulled Houston within six with 7:06 remaining.
The Houston defense forced Alabama (4-2) to punt on its next drive, and the Cougars took over at their 27-yard line with 5:39 left.
The drive stalled after Keenum had a pass intercepted by Rashad Johnson, who returned it 28 yards to the Houston 42.
Alabama took over with 4:28 remaining and appeared to have the game in hand, but Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson (15-of-27, 157, 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD) had a pass intercepted by Brandon Brinkley on a third-and-5 play from the Houston 37.
The Cougars (2-3) took possession at their 39 with a 2:56 left, and marched to the Alabama 15 in seven plays. The seventh play left Houston facing a fourth-and-3 attempt with five seconds left.
The drive-and the game-ended after Keenum’s pass was picked off by Castille in the endzone.
The play concluded a tight-fisted battle between the two teams in the second half.
Houston and Alabama both punted on their opening drives of the third quarter. Houston, however, quickly moved the ball up the field on the next drive when Keenum replaced starter Blake Joseph (9-of-20, 125 yards, 1 TD) with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
Cougars senior kicker T.J. Lawrence hit a 44-yard field goal attempt that reduced Alabama’ lead to 23-10 with 4:51 left in the third quarter.
The Houston defense forced Alabama to punt again, but Cougars freshman punt returner Teric Williams fumbled the ball. Crimson Tide sophomore defensive back Marquis Johnson recovered the loose ball, giving Alabama possession at the Houston 42.
Six plays later, Alabama running back Glen Coffee (30 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD) scored on a 4-yard touchdown to put Alabama ahead 30-10 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Cougars were held scoreless in the first quarter, while Alabama racked up three touchdowns and a safety.
Wilson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game.
Alabama scored again less than one minute later when Joseph was sacked in the end zone for a safety, putting the Crimson Tide up 9-0. Wilson connected with Nikita Stover on a 23-yard touchdown pass to increase Alabama’s lead to 16-0 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.
Alabama scored on the last play of the first quarter when Wilson connected with sophomore wide receiver Mike McCoy on a 43-yard touchdown pass to up the Crimson Tide’s advantage to 23-0.
Houston scored its first points when Joseph hooked up with senior wide receiver Donnie Avery (4 catches, 104 yards, 1 TD) on a 68-yard touchdown pass with 1:38 left in the first half.