GAMEDAY College Football

Alabama 31, Florida 29

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

AP Sports Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Bryce Young's first collegiate road start was a rousing success, a three-touchdown performance that helped top-ranked Alabama beat No. 11 Florida 31-29 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

The defending national champion Crimson Tide stopped a 2-point conversion with 3:10 left and extended its winning streak to 17, making it 32 in a row against teams from the SEC's Eastern Division.

"I think the offense did a great job of answering the bell in the game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We didn't stop them on defense. We had some long-yardage situations we didn't execute very well, but the offense always answered the bell. I think that was the key to the game."

"But our team needs to learn to maintain intensity throughout the game. I thought we got tired on defense. They looked a little quicker than us. We've got a lot of good players. We've just got to get them to play a little better."

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) has won eight straight in the series, including a wild 52-46 victory in last year's conference title game. The Gators (2-1, 0-1) fell to 0-5 against No. 1-ranked teams at Florida Field.

This one was closer than oddsmakers and just about everyone outside of Gainesville expected, with 14 1/2-point underdog Florida having a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes despite playing without dynamic backup quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Coach Dan Mullen held Richardson out as a precaution because of a strained right hamstring and said he would only be available in case of an emergency.

That never became the case even though the Gators trailed 21-3 at the end of the first quarter. Young built the early advantage with TD passes to Jase McClellan, Jahleel Billingsley and Brian Robinson.

The Gators rallied, though, and were in position to pull off a shocker when Dameon Pierce went around the left end from 17 yards out, making it 31-29 in the waning minutes. But fellow running back Malik Davis was stopped short on the conversion.

Florida may have gotten a break a few minutes earlier when Alabama was flagged for a false start on fourth-and-goal at the 1. The Tide settled for a field goal and an eight-point lead. That gave the Gators a chance, and play-caller Mullen and starting quarterback Emory Jones directed a masterful drive.

It ended up not being enough, and some surely will point to a missed extra point early in the third quarter as a huge difference. Had Chris Howard made that one, the Gators seemingly would have needed another to knot the game down the stretch.

The Gators had one final chance to force a punt and get the ball back, but Alabama did enough to milk the clock and leave Florida with little, if any, chance at a comeback. The Gators had one play from deep in their territory and were sacked.

Young completed 22 of 35 passes for 233 yards, showing little issues in a hostile environment. The Swamp packed in 90,887 fans, the fifth most in program history and the most since 2015. The Gators hoped it would affect Young, a redshirt freshman who had never played in that kind of atmosphere.

But he handled it well, especially in the first quarter. Robinson carried 14 times for 75 yards and a score in addition to his receiving TD.

Jones was 17-of-27 passing for 181 yards, with an interception. He was booed at times, partly because of the slow start and surely because of the home crowd's disappointment in not seeing Richardson.

Alabama athletics oress release

Scoring Summary
First Quarter AlaFla
Ala TD 11:21 Jase McClellan 7 yd pass from Bryce Young (Will Reichard kick) 7 0
Fla FG 7:08 Chris Howard 25 yd FG 7 3
Ala TD 4:14 Jahleel Billingsley 26 yd pass from Bryce Young (Will Reichard kick) 14 3
Ala TD 0:48 Brian Robinson Jr. 7 yd pass from Bryce Young (Will Reichard kick) 21 3
Second Quarter AlaFla
Fla TD 6:34 Malik Davis 26 yd run (missed kick) 21 9
Third Quarter AlaFla
Fla TD 10:20 Dameon Pierce 3 yd run (Chris Howard kick) 21 16
Ala TD 4:33 Brian Robinson Jr. 3 yd run (Will Reichard kick) 28 16
Fla TD 0:29 Emory Jones 5 yd run (Chris Howard kick) 28 23
Fourth Quarter AlaFla
Ala FG 9:30 Will Reichard 24 yd FG 31 23
Fla TD 3:10 Dameon Pierce 17 yd run (failed 2pt rush) 31 29
Team Stats
  Alabama Florida
First downs 19 26
  Rushing 6 12
  Passing 9 11
  Penalty 4 3
3rd Down Efficiency 7-13, 54% 5-12, 42%
4th down efficiency 1-1, 100% 1-2, 50%
Rushes-Yards 27-91 43-258
Passing Yards 233 181
Return Yards 55 13
Completions-Attempts-Int 22-35-0 17-27-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 2--9 1--2
Punts 4 2
Punts-Average 42.5 47
Fumbles Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties - Yards 11-75 7-67
Time of Possession 28:05 31:55
Alabama Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
B. Young 22 35 233 3 0
Florida Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
E. Jones 17 27 181 0 1
Alabama Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
B. Robinson Jr. 14 75 5.4 1
J. McClellan 9 17 1.9 0
B. Young 4 -1 -0.3 0
Florida Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
M. Davis 10 96 9.6 1
E. Jones 19 80 4.2 1
N. Wright 7 58 8.3 0
D. Pierce 7 24 3.4 2
Alabama Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
J. Williams 4 61 15.3 0
J. Metchie III 6 42 7.0 0
J. McClellan 4 41 10.3 1
J. Billingsley 1 26 26.0 1
S. Bolden 3 19 6.3 0
C. Latu 2 19 9.5 0
J. Earle 1 18 18.0 0
B. Robinson Jr. 1 7 7.0 1
Florida Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
K. Zipperer 4 51 12.8 0
K. Gamble 5 32 6.4 0
R. Wells 1 26 26.0 0
T. Whittemore 3 21 7.0 0
X. Henderson 1 18 18.0 0
N. Wright 1 18 18.0 0
J. Copeland 1 10 10.0 0
M. Davis 1 5 5.0 0
Alabama Interceptions
Player Int Yards
J. Armour-Davis 1 4
Florida Interceptions
Player Int Yards
Alabama Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
J. Burnip 4 170 42.5
Florida Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
J. Crawshaw 2 94 47.0
Alabama Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Florida Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
X. Henderson 1 -2 -2.0
Alabama Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
J. Williams 2 51 25.5
Florida Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
J. Weston 2 15 7.5
Alabama Missed FG
Player Length
W. Reichard 24
Florida Missed FG
Player Length
C. Howard 25