WATCH: Former Hillcrest Star Keith Holcombe Blocks Punt For Safety in SEC Championship Game
ATLANTA -- Alabama struggled offensively early, but it still found its way on the scoreboard first.
With 9:05 left in the first quarter, the Crimson Tide took a 2-0 lead when redshirt freshman linebacker and former Hillcrest star Keith Holcombe blocked a punt that went out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Freshman running back Bo Scarbrough, a former Northridge star, nearly recovered the blocked punt for a touchdown but was unable to keep it in bounds for a touchdown.
Alabama has now blocked three punts this season, the other two also resulting in points scored. Freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked and recovered a punt at Georgia, while Ronnie Harrison blocked a punt that also resulted in a safety against Middle Tennessee State. Harrison's block was also nearly recovered for a touchdown by Michael Nysewander.
Prior to this season, Alabama hadn’t blocked a punt since Kenyan Drake did it at home against Colorado State in 2013. Dillon Lee returned that loose ball 15 yards for a touchdown in a 31-6 victory.
The safety was also the first in an SEC Championship Game since the 2003 matchup between LSU and Georgia.
Holcombe, a four-star prospect in high school, also had offers from Mississippi State, Kentucky and Georgia Tech, among others. A former baseball player with the Patriots, he will join the Alabama baseball team as an outfielder this spring.
Holcombe is the son of Danny Holcombe, a former offensive lineman on Bear Bryant's final Alabama teams from 1980-82.
Alabama had 38 yards of total offense after the first quarter, compared to 80 from Florida. The Crimson Tide led 12-7 at halftime, behind an Adam Griffith field goal and Derrick Henry touchdown run just before halftime.
Later in the first quarter, defensive lineman D.J. Pettway blocked the Gators' 40-yard field goal attempt to keep the shutout intact. Cornerback Cyrus Jones recovered the blocked kick.
Alabama pulled away in the second half to beat Florida, 29-15, and win its 25th SEC championship.