TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Blake Sims passed for two touchdowns and rushed for a third in three quarters and might have staked his claim as No. 3 Alabama’s undisputed starting quarterback in a 52-12 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday night.
Sims was 12-of-17 passing for 168 yards for the Crimson Tide (3-0) ahead of the team’s Southeastern Conference opener against Florida. Jake Coker didn’t come in until late in the third quarter against the Golden Eagles (1-2), who have lost 25 of their last 27 games.
Most of Sims’ completions went to the nation’s leading receiver, Amari Cooper. Cooper had eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown to tie DJ Hall’s school record of five consecutive 100-yard games set in 2006. Kenyan Drake scored three touchdowns and produced 59 yards on nine rushes.
Sims also ran five times for 46 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. Coker did open by leading Alabama on a 99-yard scoring drive.
Nick Mullens completed 19 of 35 passes for 207 yards to lead Southern Miss.
Corey Acosta had field goals of 33, 43, 37 and 30 yards to account for all the points by Southern Miss.
Alabama outgained the Golden Eagles 547-263 in total yards, allowing just 56 rushing yards. The Tide ran for 333 yards, led by Derrick Henry’s 11 carries for 73 yards.
Cooper accounted for 108 of Sims’ 123 passing yards in the first half. He moved past Ozzie Newsome into the Tide’s No. 3 spot for career receiving yards.
Coker got into the game with 2:10 left in the third quarter with Alabama at the 1. He completed all three of his attempts for 36 yards before Drake scampered 29 yards for his third touchdown and a 42-9 lead.
Coker finished 5-of-7 passing for 46 yards. His third-down sack forced Alabama to settle for a 30-yard Adam Griffith field goal.
The Florida State transfer and Sims had battled through preseason camp and split time in a rout of Florida Atlantic. Sims played all but the final minutes of the opening win against West Virginia and didn’t leave this one until it was well in hand either.
Southern Miss scored field goals on its first and last drive of the opening half, but managed just 4 yards in the second quarter.
Two of Acosta’s kicks were set up by Alabama mistakes.
Tyler Sarrazin’s punt bounced off Alabama’s Tyren Jones, giving the Golden Eagles the ball at the 29.
They couldn’t get anywhere but Acosta got them three points, and he added the 37-yarder in the third quarter on a drive kept alive by safety Nick Perry’s targeting flag on a third-down incompletion.
Perry will miss the first half of the Florida game. He posted an apology to Alabama fans on his Twitter page before the quarter was done, saying that “My boys will take care of business.”
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