TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Five touchdown passes from quarterback Bryce Young and three total touchdowns from wide receiver Jameson Williams were all Alabama football needed as the top-ranked Crimson Tide downed the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 63-14 on Saturday night inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young played a near-perfect game, completing 20-of-22 passes for 313 yards and five scores with one interception. However, it was two kickoff-return touchdowns by wide receiver Jameson Williams that highlighted the victory.
"I was really pleased with the intensity that our players played with tonight," Alabama coach Nick Saban said after the game. "That's one of the things that we've been harping on — maintaining intensity for 60 minutes in a game — and I thought we had good energy and I thought we played with good intensity throughout the game."
Alabama got things started off quick when Williams returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. With just 14 seconds having ticked off of the clock, the Crimson Tide was out to a 7-0 lead.
Williams' touchdown was not only the first kickoff returned for a touchdown since Jaylen Waddle in the 2019 Iron Bowl. Additionally, it was the first 100-yard kickoff return since former wide receiver Tyrone Prothro did so against Kentucky back in 2004.
"I just had to hit the hole," Williams said after the game. "I knew it was going to be there, I just had to hit it. Hit it and made one man miss: touchdown."
It didn't take long for Alabama to build on its lead. After a three-and-out drive by Southern Miss, the Crimson Tide formed an eight-play, 60-yard drive punctuated with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Young to tight end Jahleel Billingsley.
Young played near perfection in the first half, completing 12 of 13 passes for 226 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the first 30 minutes with an impressive quarterback rating of 339.9.
The running game was equally effective, with sophomore running back Roydell Williams leading the Alabama backfield with nine carries for 102 yards and a touchdown. Jase McClellan, who started the game, finished the first half with 60 yards on eight carries.
At the end of the first half, Alabama led 42-7.
The Crimson Tide offense felt no need to slow things down in the second half, either. After the Golden Eagles started things off with another three-and-out, Alabama formed a four-play, 68-yard drive finished with tight end Cameron Latu's second touchdown of the game.
On Alabama's next drive, Young threw the first interception of his Alabama career and did not return to the game. In total, Young completed 20 of 22 passes for 313 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. His five touchdowns were just one score short of tying Tua Tagovailoa's record for the most in a single game in Alabama history.
"We always pride ourselves in being an explosive offense," Young said. "That's something that we strive to make our identity. I think it was really good for us. I think it's something that we can build off of but I think offensively we just wanted to execute the plays that were called and for the most part I think we did a relatively good job."
After the interception, Southern Miss responded a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter with a touchdown thrown by quarterback Ty Keyes 11 yards to wide receiver Demarcus Jones. However, Jameson Williams and the Crimson Tide weren't quite finished yet.
On the ensuing kickoff, Williams returned the kick 83 yards for his second touchdown return of the game and his third overall. Williams is the first Alabama player to return two kickoffs for a touchdown in one game.
Southern Miss head coach Will Hall had only good things to say about Williams and Young.
“They're really, really good," Hall said. "You know, they’re as advertised. They're fast. They're big. Bryce is accurate. He’s going to have a bright, bright career here, which every quarterback that plays here does. And, you know Jameson had a huge game for them on the kick return.
"We’ve got to get back to the drawing board and look at what happened right there and see what the issues were."
Two quarterbacks and one final touchdown later for the Crimson Tide, the final score was brought to 63-14.
Overall, the Crimson Tide's offense amassed 608 yards, with 395 of those yards coming through the air and 213 on the ground. Alabama doubled Southern Miss in first downs with 22 compared to the Golden Eagles' 11. The Crimson Tide also converted six of its 10 third-downs.
In total, Alabama averaged 10.5 yards per play and was 4-for-4 in the red zone.
"We made a lot of great plays in the game, made a lot of very good plays in the game," Saban said. "Obviously there's always things that you want to improve on and things that we need to work on and we'll go to work on that but this is something that I would like to build on for our team."
With the win, Alabama improved to 4-0 and will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday for a red-hot Ole Miss football team. Southern Miss falls to 1-3 with the loss.
Gallery: Alabama Rumbles Over Southern Miss
Photos courtesy of Alabama Athletics