Jarrett Stidham Stars in Win Over Alabama
By A.P. Steadham
Jarrett Stidham executed brilliantly as no. 6 Auburn (10-2, 7-1) upset no. 1 ranked arch rival Alabama (11-1, 7-1) 26-14 on Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The 6-3, 214 pound quarterback scorched the Tide secondary on Saturday afternoon for 237 yards completing 21 of 28 attempts. All of his natural and learned skills were on display before a nationally televised audience courtesy of CBS.
Alabama constantly pressured Stidham hoping to disrupt his timing and rhythm but to no avail. He was consistently precise and accurate hitting receivers in stride for positive gains. Five times on crucial third downs, the poised sophomore converted with completions for a first down. Although the Southeastern Conference’s top defense sacked him once and forced a fumble the versatile Stidham would not be denied.
He eluded the Tide for a career high of 51 rushing yards on 12 carries including a 16-yard fourth quarter touchdown scamper through a host of defenders to cap the scoring for the home underdog team. “Well we knew he was very athletic, and we respected him as a runner. It is not something they have done a lot but, we did respect his ability to scramble and extend plays,” said Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban. “He did make a couple of really good runs. He pulled the ball, and when Hootie (Jones) got hurt, he got cut on the zone option and ran a quarterback draw for a big first down. We have a lot of respect for the guy. He is the best quarterback we have played against this year.”
Auburn clinched the SEC’s Western Division title with the win. Stidham passed for 200 yards for the ninth time this season. He has thrown for 2,682 yards thus far – fourth in Auburn’s single season history – with 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions. Stidham has connected on 202 of 295 attempts for a league leading 68.5% completion rate. He has four rushing touchdowns on the season.
The Stephenville HS (TX) five-star product showed a strong pocket presence, resiliency to keep plays alive with his legs, flawless decision making and a total command of the offense. He scanned the field, correctly analyzed the coverages and efficiently delivered strikes all day before a sold-out crowd of 87,451. A 94-yard first quarter Tiger scoring drive was the longest allowed by Alabama this season. The 12-point margin of victory was Auburn’s largest in an Iron Bowl since defeating Alabama by 23 points (49-26) in 1969. Stidham and company regulated the vaunted Tide defense to average status in the highly anticipated contest.
Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn praised the Baylor transfer’s development and toughness during the post-game interview, “He’s a tough guy. There’s no doubt. He’s a great competitor. He throws it just as good as anyone I’ve seen. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and is doing a great job.”
Prior to the high stakes scuffle, the Kentucky native relished the opportunity to compete in the Iron Bowl. “Looking back on everything, I think this is exactly why I came here, to play in a game like this with these kinds of implications,” he stated. This is why you play Division I football, especially at a place like Auburn, in this state.” Stidham, confident in his abilities and team, proved to be a wise prophet.
A.P. Steadham spoke to the emerging star and charismatic leader following the sensational individual performance. Auburn will face SEC Eastern Division Champion representative Georgia (11-1, 7-1) for the league title on Saturday, December 2nd at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta scheduled to air on CBS at 4 PM Eastern.
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