Waddle KOR TD

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) gets by Auburn wide receiver Matthew Hill (19) as he scores a touchdown on a kick return in first-half action Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

AUBURN — Jaylen Waddle was near unstoppable in Alabama’s 48-45 loss to Auburn on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

After Auburn had taken a 17-10 lead with 5:36 to play before halftime, Waddle returned the ensuing kickoff a career-high 98 yards for a touchdown to completely change the momentum of the game.

Waddle started up the middle on the return and then cut to his left and down the sidelines for the score.

It was Alabama’s first kickoff return for a score since Josh Jacobs’ 77-yard return against Louisville in the 2018 opener.

Waddle also had a big day from his receiver slot — catching touchdown passes of 58, 12 and 28 yards. He finished the game with 230 all-purpose yards.

On the run: Najee Harris had a strong day running the football with 146 yards on 27 carries, which included a 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The rushing effort took him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season as he now has 1,088. Harris also caught four passes out of the backfield for 26 yards.

Mac attack: Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones threw for a career-high 335 yards and four touchdowns in completing 26-of-39 passes. He also rushed for 32 yards on eight tries. The downside was two interceptions thrown that were returned for touchdowns.

Stoppers: Defensive end Raekwon Davis and free safety Xavier McKinney were the leading tacklers for Alabama in the game, each making seven solo stops with one assist. McKinney also came up with a big play late in the first half when he stripped the ball from running back Boobee Whitlow and linebacker Christian Harris recovered the loose ball at the Auburn 37.

Catching it: Henry Ruggs III caught six passes for 99 yards to lead the Tide receivers, including a 3-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. DeVonta Smith caught six passes for 80 yards. Smith, Waddle and Ruggs combined for 277 yards on 15 catches.

Injury report: Nose guard D.J. Dale missed the game with a knee injury. Phidarian Mathis started in his spot, marking the first career start for the redshirt sophomore. Linebacker Anfernee Jennings went down with 10 minutes left before half when he jumped up to knock down a pass and was hit by Auburn guard Mike Horton. After staying down on the turf for several minutes, Jennings got up and left the field on his own power and would soon return to action. Linebacker Christian Harris went down late in the third quarter and looked to be favoring an ankle, but walked off the field shortly after being attended to.

Bolden cat: Wide receiver Slade Bolden converted a 4th-and-1 play from the Auburn 35 when he took a direct snap out of the wildcat and gained three yards in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Alabama would shortly turn the first down into points when Harris scored on a 6-yard run to complete a 14-play, 75-yard drive to put Alabama up 10-7 following the PAT.

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