Just like old times

It was like old time Alabama football Saturday at Legion Field in Birmingham as the Crimson Tide rolled over out-manned Texas-El Paso, 56-7, in a non-conference game.

Alabama is now 3-2 on the season. The Crimson Tide gets back into Southeastern Conference play next week when Bama goes to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. The time and television situation will be announced Monday, but it is expected the game will be regionally telecast by Jefferson Pilot with kickoff shortly after 11:30 a.m. CDT from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Alabama is 2-1 in SEC games. Mississippi, 1-1 in league games, was to play a non-conference game at Arkansas State Saturday night.

Quarterback Tyler Watts had another excellent game for the Crimson Tide before retiring early in the third quarter. Watts completed 12 of 18 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and was again Alabama's leading rusher with his second consecutive 100-yard game, running nine times for 101 yards. Watts' rushes included two touchdown runs as he accounted for half of Bama's eight touchdowns.

Both Watts' touchdown passes went to Triandos Luke, who scored his first collegiate points. Alabama's first two touchdowns were also the first points for fullback Donnie Lowe. Marvin Brown, who did not play on offense last week against South Carolina after having lost two fumbles and dropped a touchdown pass the week before against Arkansas, had a rushing touchdown, as did back-up tailback Ray Hudson. The scores also were the first for both Brown and Hudson. Neal Thomas kicked all eight extra points.

Freddie Milons became Alabama's all-time leading pass catcher as he pulled in four receptions to give him 135 for his career. David Bailey (1969-71) had 132 receptions.

Lowe went in from two yards out to cap a 10-play, 76-yard drive on Bama's first possession, then scored from a yard out on Bama's second possession, an eight-play, 60-yard drive in which the Tide overcame a holding penalty that wiped out a 36-yard gain and a 15-yard illegal block penalty.

Watts connected with Luke on a 10-yard pass play for a touchdown in the final seconds of the first quarter, capping a five-play, 31-yard drive. Luke also caught a touchdown pass in the final seconds of the second quarter, a two-yard catch of a deflected toss. That was a similar drive, five plays for 32 yards. In between Luke's touchdowns Watts had two running scores. He took it in from 16 yards out and on a nine-yard run.

Alabama's 42-0 halftime lead was the largest for Bama since a 52-7 advantage at intermission against Vanderbilt in 1990.

Brown had a 13-yard run in the third quarter and Hudson a two-yard run in the opening moments of the fourth quarter to complete Alabama scoring.

UTEP scored on a 74-yard, fourth quarter run to avoid the shutout for the Miners.

As would be expected, Alabama dominated statistically. Alabama had 27 first downs to seven for the Miners. Bama ran 79 plays and picked up 588 yards, 7.4 yards per play, while UTEP had 48 plays for 232 yards, 4.8 yards per play. Bama had 53 rushes for 360 yards, the Miners 29 rushes for 133 yards. Bama's three quarterbacks – Andrew Zow and Jonathan Richey played most of the second half – completed 15 of 26 passes for 228 yards and had no interceptions, while UTEP quarterbacks completed 8 of 19 passes for 99 yards and suffered one interception. Both teams fumbled four times, Alabama losing one, UTEP losing two. If there was one area in which Alabama was poor it was that the Tide was penalized 14 times for 121 yards. UTEP was penalized five times for 40 yards. Alabama converted 10 of 15 third down opportunities and averaged an incredible 14.1 yards per play on third downs. UTEP was good on only 3 of 13 third down plays and failed on two fourth down tries. Alabama had an 11-minute advantage in time of possession, 35:29 to 24:31.

Oddly, both teams lost fumbles on the same play. Zow had the ball knocked loose, and a UTEP man picked it up and ran with it. Jason McAddley ran down the Miner and stripped the ball from him and recovered it for the Tide. From there Alabama went on an eight-play, 76-yard drive with Brown bulling up the middle for the final 13 yards and the touchdown.

Ahmaad Galloway was Bama's second leading rusher with nine carries for 83 yards. Hudson had 14 runs for 67 yards, Beard seven for 51, and Brown four for 36. Zow completed three of five passes for 81 yards. Milons four catches were good for 74 yards. McAddley had three catches for 67 yards, Luke three for 26.

Alabama's interception was a factor of teamwork. Linebacker Saleem Rasheed tipped a pass and defensive end Kindal Moorehead made a diving grab of the ball at the UTEP 25-yard line. That led to Watts' second touchdown run. Rasheed was Bama's leading tackler with three solo stops and three assists. Back-up defensive tackle David Daniel also had three solo tackles.

Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione said, "This game was about us getting better and improving, and I felt like we did that. You have to give the kids and the coaches credit. Last week was a tough loss (37-36 at South Carolina). I was concerned about how we would come back after that. I see us taking steps. If we can continue at this pace we will be a hard team to handle."

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