LOS ANGELES – Scotty McCreery won the “American Idol” battle of the fresh-faced country crooners Wednesday, pulling more of a record 122 million-plus viewer votes than competitor Lauren Alaina.

“I never in my wildest dreams,” said McCreery, a 17-year-old with a strikingly deep, old-soul voice that contrasts with his youth. “I’ve got to thank the Lord first … he got me here.”

McCreery of Garner, N.C., and Alaina, 16, of Rossville, Ga., represent the first all-country finale and the youngest duo ever to compete on “Idol,” which is in its 10th season.

The exuberant, big-voiced Alaina performed on Tuesday’s final sing-off despite a vocal cord injury that needed medical treatment. She received raves from the judges, who said she won the night.

But the consistently popular McCreery, who’d never been at risk of elimination, claimed the title and a record contract.

The teenager seemed overwhelmed as he took the stage for a celebratory version of “I Love You This Big,” halting to embrace his parents in the audience, Alaina and others. Then he playfully stuck his tongue out, trying to catch falling confetti.

His victory continued a recent pattern: He’s the fourth male in a row to win the Fox TV contest, with 2007’s Jordin Sparks, 17, the last female “Idol.”

Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, two of the four female winners, have proved the winners with the most successful recording careers.

This season’s vote total was more than three-quarters-of-a-billion, “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest announced Wednesday. For Fox, it’s affirmation there’s still life in the series that’s had a long ratings reign as No. 1.

McCreery commented backstage Tuesday on the loyalty of country fans, and they clearly gave the show a boost. Last year, Fox didn’t announce the number of votes for the much lower-key contest between winner Lee DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox.

In 2009, when winner Kris Allen and Adam Lambert duked it out in 2009, more than 100 million votes were cast.