Alabama running back Bo Scarborough tips the the leather trophy helmet to the fans after Alabama defeated Florida State 24-7 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta on Saturday. Photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI | License Photo
ATLANTA -- Alabama got at least a little payback against the ACC for its last-second loss to Clemson in the national title game a season ago, beating Florida State in what was billed by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff as the "Greatest Opener of All Time."
No. 1 Alabama forced three turnovers, sacked Deondre Francois three times, blocked two kicks and held No. 3 Florida State to 40 net yards rushing in a 24-7 victory Saturday night before 76,330 at the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Calvin Ridley caught a 53-yard touchdown pass and two-point conversion from quarterback Jalen Hurts, while Damien Harris had an 11-yard run and a blocked punt for the Crimson Tide.
Francois, the Seminoles' sophomore quarterback, left the game in the fourth quarter after injuring his left leg on a sack by Ronnie Harrison, ending a night in which he was 19 of 33 passing for 210 yards and a touchdown.
Hurts completed 10 of 18 passes for 96 yards and carried 15 times for 55 yards. The Crimson Tide had 173 yards rushing, with Harris gaining 73 on nine carries and Bo Scarbrough 40 on 15 rushes.
Harris' blocked punt set up a 25-yard field goal by Andy Pappanastos, and Harris' touchdown run followed a Seminoles fumble on the ensuing kickoff as Alabama took charge in the third quarter.
Keith Holcombe fell on Keith Gavin's fumble after a hit by Dylan Moses, and Hurts completed a two-point pass to Ridley after Harris scored on the first play.
Pappanastos was 3-for-5 in field-goal attempts, hitting from 33 yards out midway through the fourth quarter.
Florida State led 7-3 early in the second quarter when he finished a 90-yard drive with a 3-yard TD pass from Francois to Auden Tate.
Alabama answered with a 53-yard bomb from Hurts to Ridley later in the second quarter and led 10-7 at halftime when Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked a 37-yard field-goal attempt by FSU's Ricky Aguayo in the closing seconds.
Pappanastos kicked a 35-yard field goal on Alabama's second drive for the only scoring in the first quarter after missing from 42 yards on the first possession.
Francois was 14 of 22 passing for 162 yards in the first half, but FSU managed just 24 net yards on the ground. Alabama had 101 yards rushing and 91 passing at halftime.
NOTES: It was the first time since the advent of the Associated Press poll that teams ranked No. 1 and No. 3 played to open the season. Teams ranked No. 1 and No. 4 had played twice. ... Alabama will make its sixth Chick-fil-A Kickoff appearance in 2019, playing Duke. The Crimson Tide defeated Clemson in 2008 to begin the event. ... It was the first appearance for FSU. ... Alabama and FSU have won five of the past eight national titles, four by the Crimson Tide. ... Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was Alabama coach Nick Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU.