By JOHN ZENOR Associated Press
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa’s first throw went backward to Henry Ruggs III, who sprinted 75 yards to the end zone.
That’s about how the day went for No. 2 Alabama.
Tagovailoa passed for three touchdowns and ran 25 yards for a fourth, all in the first half of the Crimson Tide’s 62-10 victory over New Mexico State Saturday.
The Crimson Tide (2-0) was off to the races starting with the game’s first play, when Ruggs collected the lateral in a play that was initially ruled a pass.
“We knew we wanted to start fast and what’s the best way to start than first play a 75-yard touchdown,” Ruggs said.
It didn’t get any better for the Aggies (0-2) after that in sweltering conditions that contributed to thousands of empty seats at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy tied the school record with three touchdown catches, covering 21, 23 and 19 yards. He caught eight passes for 103 yards in his second straight big game .
Ruggs also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in a game that started under a 95-degree temperature with a triple-digit heat index.
There was just the right amount of drama for a Tide team facing 55 1/2-point underdogs: Zero.
Tagovailoa played one series into the third quarter before exiting, but not before becoming the eighth Tide quarterback with 5,000 career passing yards. He also darted up the middle for the scoring run and finished 16-of-24 passing for 227 yards. The first play, he didn’t mind giving up the passing stat.
“I didn’t expect us to score on the first play,” Tagovailoa said. “It was a little bubble throw. It just shows what kind of guys we’ve got. You can throw something as short as that and they turn it into a big play.”
Alabama outgained New Mexico State 603-262 in total yards.
The Tide backups delivered big plays as well. Mac Jones hit Jeudy for that 19-yard score and freshman tailback Keilan Robinson raced 74 yards for a touchdown.
The Aggies scored on Jason Huntley’s 4-yard catch from Josh Adkins in the third quarter, set up by Adkins’ 44-yarder to Tony Nicholson. Beyond that, it was an uphill battle.
“They’ve just got electric players all over the field, so the margin of error is so small,” Aggies coach Doug Martin said. “If you turn the ball over, they’re going to make great things happen, and if you just give them a step, a wide receiver can get behind you and run it back without being tackled. They’re just an elite team.”
TREVON DIGGS CRAMPS
Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs was carried off the field by two trainers and directly to the medical tent in the third quarter. Diggs had started walking with assistance before the trainers picked him up near the sideline, but Alabama coach Nick Saban said it was just cramps.
PATH TO IMPROVEMENT
Saban said the performance was “sloppy” late in the game with the backups in. He was also asked about improving from such mismatches.
“Do I think we can get better in games like this? I do,” he said. “If you approach the game right and you practice the right way and you prepare and you have the right focus and you play to your standard, you can get better playing anybody.”
With the two top centers held out, Florida State transfer Landon Dickerson got his first start at the position. Chris Owens and backup Emil Ekiyor Jr. sat out with unspecified injuries.
New Mexico State: Has had a brutal schedule to open the season. The Aggies lost at No. 22 Washington State 58-7, but don’t face any more teams that are currently ranked. Adkins completed 19 of 30 passes for 145 yards with the touchdown and an interception that ended New Mexico State’s best drive of the first half.
Alabama: Did have modest offensive issues early for the second straight game, with back to back three-and-out possessions in the first quarter. It didn’t even come close to mattering in this one, but it’s something to work on. The defense forced two turnovers and has allowed only 10 points in the first two games. More good news given Alabama’s issues with kicking woes: freshman Will Reichard booted field goals of 48 and 49 yards and was perfect on extra points.
New Mexico State: Hosts San Diego State.
Alabama: Opens Southeastern Conference play at South Carolina.