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Christion Jones scored on a punt return, on a kick return and on a pass reception Saturday.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones (22) wears the gamer celebratory leather helmet after the Crimson Tide beat Virginia Tech, 35-10, in Atlanta on Saturday.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
ATLANTA — Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones was the former Alabama star who joined ex-Virginia Tech great Bruce Smith on the Georgia Dome field for the team entrances and the coin toss Saturday.
But once the game kicked off, it was a different receiver named Jones who took center stage for the Crimson Tide.
Christion Jones returned a punt for a touchdown, returned a kickoff for a TD and caught a TD pass to help the top-ranked Crimson Tide begin its defense of its latest national championship with a 35-10 win over the Hokies.
Jones, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior from Adamsville, Ala., finished with 256 all-purpose yards and personally outscored the Hokies 18-10.
“It’s every kid’s dream to come in and do things like that,” he said.
Jones became the first player in Alabama history to have a punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown in the same game. And he only needed the first half to achieve that milestone.
“We prepare like crazy for the kicking game,” he said. “The blocking scheme is there, so I just like to hit the hole and get downfield. I really don’t try to do too much shifting because you’re losing yards.”
Jones returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown to give Alabama the lead for good at 7-0 before the game was two minutes old.
“It was a good blocking scheme,” he said. “The inside was open and that’s what we had called, a middle return.”
It was the first time Jones had ever returned a punt for a TD and the first time any Crimson Tide player had done so in two years.
Late in the second quarter, Jones returned a kickoff 94 yards down the left sideline to extend the lead to 28-10. It was the second kickoff return for a TD in Jones’ career.
“It was called to go exactly the way they blocked it,” he said. “I [saw] the hole and took it — broke a tackle, came around and the guys were still blocking, but it seemed like V-Tech … thought that the play was over with.”
Jones, who finished with six punt and kickoff returns combined, was glad Tech continued to kick to him after his first touchdown.
“You really don’t want them to stop kicking to you when you have a good chance of taking them back,” he said.
Alabama also scored on an interception return by Vinnie Sunseri in the first half. It was the first time in the Frank Beamer coaching era that the Hokies allowed a punt return for a TD, a kickoff return for a TD and an interception return for a TD in the same game.
It was the first time Alabama had three non-offensive touchdowns in a game since a 1995 win over Georgia.
Late in the third quarter, Jones motored down the left sideline and caught a 38-yard TD pass from A.J. McCarron to extend the lead to 35-10.
“They pressed and we took advantage of it,” Jones said. “A.J. did a great job connecting with me on the deep ball.
“They got in man coverage and we took advantage.”
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