Alabama (3-4) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 17-3 win over Southern Miss (3-3) in front of 82,818 fans here at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The win over Southern Miss is the first by Alabama since a 27-17 win over Kentucky on Sept. 20 here in Tuscaloosa.
McKay-Loescher did not play in Saturday's game with Southern Miss, marking the first time in his career the senior did not see action for the Crimson Tide. Prior to Saturday, McKay-Loescher had played in all 42 games in his UA career.
With McKay-Loescher's absence on Saturday, senior snapper Nick Ridings is the only Alabama senior to play in every game in his Alabama career. Ridings has now played in all 43 games in his career for the Tide since the 2001 season opener at UCLA.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Avalos (Tuscaloosa) made his first career start at quarterback today for Alabama. Avalos made his debut for the Crimson Tide last week and played most of the second half against Georgia, subbing for injured quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington.
Redshirt freshman defensive end J.P. Adams (Northport) mad e his Alabama debut today against Southern Miss. Adams played one snap on the UA defensive line in the fourth quarter. Adams' lone play was the final offensive play for the Golden Eagles, which resulted in a fumble at the Alabama 27-yard line.
In addition to McKay-Loescher, five other Alabama regulars did not see action in the win over Southern Miss, including starting quarterback Brodie Croyle, backup quarterback Spencer Pennington, running back Kenneth Darby, starting "SAM" linebacker Derrick Pope and defensive tackle Kyle Tatum.
Alabama improves to 69-13-1 all-time in 83 homecoming games here at the Capstone. The Crimson Tide has won its last two homecoming games, beating Ole Miss (42-7) last year and Southern Miss today.
The Crimson Tide improves to 6-0 in homecoming games against Southern Miss, with the last win coming in 1999. In addition, Alabama is 29-5 all-time in homecoming games against teams from the state of Mississippi.
With the win over Southern Miss, Alabama improves its all-time lead to 32-6-2 in a series that dates back to 1947. Since 1992, Alabama has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with USM, including three last three in a row.
Alabama improves to 12-1 all-time in games played on Oct. 11th. Today's game was the first on Oct. 11 since a 40-324 overtime loss at Kentucky in 1997.
The Crimson Tide offense ran 57 snaps in its win over Southern Miss, including 50 rushing plays for 243 yards and two TDs. The 50 attempts and 243 yards are the second-highest totals by the Crimson Tide offense this season. The season high is 53 attempts for 266 yards in a 27-17 win over Kentucky on Sept. 20. On the flip side, Alabama attempted only seven passes (3 completions for 12 yards) in the win over USM.
A total of six Alabama players were credited with offensive stats in today's game with Southern Miss, including one quarterback (Brandon Avalos), two running backs (Shaud Williams and Ray Hudson) and three receivers (Zach Fletcher, Traindos Luke and Tim Castille).
In the first half, Bama ran 32 offensive plays for 157 total yards. The Crimson Tide ran the ball 29 times for 146 yards, led by Williams' 15 carries for 110 yards and one TD. Alabama opened the game with eight straight running plays before Avalos completed a two-yard pass to Triandos Luke. The Crimson Tide scored on its next possession with three running plays and added five more on its next possession before a nine-yard pass to Zach Fletcher and an incomplete pass. Alabama rounded out the first half with a 15-play, 62-yard scoring drive capped by Brian Bostick's 24-yard field. The nearly eight minute (7:59) drive saw 14 straight running plays before the field goal.
In the second half, Alabama ran the ball 21 times for 97 yards and one TD. Bama also attempted four passes in the final two quarters for one yard.
Southern Miss managed only 24 total yards on its first three possessions before a 12-play, 70-yard drive in the final 2:56 led to a 27-yard FG by Darren McCaleb. Prior to the last-second field goal, USM ran 17 plays for 24 yards and had only one first down against the Alabama defense in its first three possessions. The final drive netted five first downs (one coming a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty after a third-down incompletion that gave USM a first down) and 70 total yards.
For the game, the Golden Eagles actually outgained the Crimson Tide by six total yards. USM netted 261 yards to Alabama's 255 yards.
The Crimson Tide recorded its best rushing defensive performance of the season, limiting the Golden Eagles to 35 rushing attempts and 17 rushing yards. Alabama's previous best rushing defense effort this season was against Kentucky, limiting the Wildcats to 23 attempts and 26 rushing yards.
In its last two wins over Southern Miss, the Alabama defense has held the Golden Eagles to three points and 52 rushing yards. USM did score a TD in last year's 20-7 loss to UA, but the seven points came on Michael Boley's interception return in the third quarter.
The Alabama passing game has completed only eight passes (24 attempts) for 33 yards in the last two wins over USM.
Senior running back Shaud Williams (Andrews, Texas) ran 28 times for 170 yards and two TDs in the win over Southern Miss. Williams scored on a 44-yard touchdown run with 2:01 left in the first quarter to give Alabama a 7-0 lead. With that 44-yard TD run, Williams' three previous touchdowns had averaged 59.3 yards. Williams had TD runs of 54 yards vs. Northern Illinois (Sept. 20), 80 vs. Arkansas (Sept. 27) and 44 vs. Southern Miss (Oct. 11).
Williams added a one-yard TD run in the fourth quarter of today's game to extend Alabama's lead to 17-3.
In seven games this season, Williams has accounted for all nine of Alabama's rushing touchdowns. Dating back to the 2002 Hawai'i game, he is responsible for the Crimson Tide's last 10 rushing TDs.
Junior running back Ray Hudson (Bonifay, Fla.) ran the ball 18 times for 76 yards in today's win over Southern Miss. Hudson's 18 rushing attempts and 76 yards are both career highs.
Alabama punter Bo Freelend (Eutaw) had one his best days of the 2003 season, averaging 45.8 yards on six punts in the win over Southern Miss. Freelend had a career-long 55-yard punt and dropped four of six kicks inside the USM 20-yard line. The Golden Eagles had only three punt returns for 15 yards against the Crimson Tide, giving Freelend a 43.3 net average for the game.
Junior strong safety Chris James (Albany, Georgia) recorded his second blocked punt of the 2003 season, setting up Williams' one-yard TD run in the 4th quarter. James first career blocked punt came in the Crimson Tide's 20-13 loss to No. 1 ranked Oklahoma on Sept. 6, 2003. James was credited with a 14-yard punt return today against USM, while Greg McClain added 11 more yards setting up UA at the USM one-yard line.
Southern Miss Post-Game Team Notes
Southern Miss lost the coin toss for today's game, for the fifth time in six games. The Eagles won the coin toss at Cincinnati, marking the only time Southern Miss has won the toss.
The three points scored by Southern Miss marked the lowest point total for the team since an opening-game loss at California, in which the Golden Eagles scored two points. The total also is the lowest output against Alabama since Southern Miss was shut out in a 40-0 loss in 1993.
Alabama's passing total of 12 yards marks the fewest passing yards allowed by the Golden Eagle defense this season. The previous low was 106 yards passing allowed to Cincinnati last week. The Crimson Tide's 255 yards of total offense also is the lowest mark allowed by Southern Miss this season. The previous low was 265 yards gained by Nebraska on Sept. 25.
The Golden Eagles gained just 17 rushing yards in the game, a season low. The previous low rush yards came against Cincinnati (44 yards).
Freshman Damion Carter started his second straight game for the Golden Eagles. In the Cincinnati game last week, he became the first Golden Eagle to start at quarterback since Aaron Hightower started against Northern Illinois in 1992. Playing in the Nebraska game, Carter (New Orleans, La./Newman High School) also became the first true freshman to see action at quarterback in a game since Zac White played in a 41-7 win over South Florida in 2000. Carter also is the third youngest player ever to start at quarterback for the Eagles. Brett Favre was the youngest, at 17 years old, and Hightower the second youngest. Carter finished the game with 29 yards on 5-of-8 passing.
Backup quarterback Dustin Almond threw for 196 yards on 16-of-28 passing, falling one yard short of the most single game passing yards by a Southern Miss quarterback this season. Micky D'Angelo threw for 197 yards in the season opener against California (8/30).
Wide receiver Antwon Courington finished with nine receptions for 98 yards in the game. The two totals are career-highs for the sophomore receiver and also are season-highs by a Southern Miss individual this season, topping the previous mark of seven catches set by Courington at California and 95 yards by Marvin Young at Cincinnati.
Running back Tim Blackwell finished with eight receptions for 90 yards in the game – both career highs. He also rushed for 15 yards on 14 carries.
Linebacker Rod Davis finished with nine total tackles in the game, including seven solo stops. The solo stops improved his school record total for 301 unassisted tackles in his career. The nine combined tackles moves him to fourth place on the overall career tackles list with 436. He needs just three more tackles to move into second place overall behind all-time leader Clump Taylor (510).