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No. 2 Alabama roars back for 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia
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No. 2 Alabama roars back for 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia

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Alabama's Saban cleared to coach after 3rd negative test

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2020, file photo, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban leads his team as they march on campus, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The mid-week news that Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19 added a challenging backdrop for the season’s first Top 5 matchup. Saban figures to be communicating his marching orders and input from home while offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is manning the show within the football building. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A positive COVID-19 test couldn’t keep Nick Saban from the sideline, and Georgia’s heralded defense had scant hope of keeping Alabama’s playmakers out of the end zone.

Mac Jones passed for 417 yards and four touchdowns and the No. 2 Crimson Tide picked apart No. 3 Georgia in the second half of a 41-24 victory Saturday night. It ended up being a decisive ‘Bama victory in a collision of the Southeastern Conference’s last remaining unbeaten teams.

The Crimson Tide (4-0) surged with three touchdowns in a 10-minute span starting late in the third quarter.

The nation’s top scoring offense ultimately got the upper hand in a battle with the Bulldogs (3-1) and one of the nation’s best defenses.

“This was an obvious great win against a very, very good football team,” said Saban, who was cleared early in the day after a false COVID positive. “I was very proud of the way our guys fought in the game.”

Georgia had no answer for Jones and star receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, especially with Alabama’s own beleaguered defense grabbing two second-half interceptions and three overall. Freshman Malachi Moore had one at the goal line and returned it 42 yards.

Smith caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two TDs, including one in the fourth quarter that effectively put it out of reach.

Waddle caught a 90-yard touchdown pass and gained 161 yards on six catches. Jones completed 24 of 32 passes and was strong after an interception on the opening play.

Then there was some old school ground and pound, too. Najee Harris gained 152 yards on 31 carries carries with a touchdown during that game-clinching span. He did it against the nation’s top run defense, which came in allowing 38 rushing yards and 12.3 points per game.

Stetson Bennett completed 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, including an 82-yarder to James Cook. But he threw three interceptions.

Alabama got a boost about seven hours before the game when the SEC cleared coach Saban to return to business of usual, determining a Wednesday COVID test was a false positive. He tested negative Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Tide have won the last six meetings with Georgia, including a 3-0 record against Saban’s former defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart. The first two came in the January 2018 national championship game and the SEC championship game the following season.

This was the first one that didn’t go down to the wire. Georgia’s defense allowed 564 yards.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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