Wow Zow, Senior QB leads team to victory

Senior quarterback Andrew Zow directed a picture-perfect Alabama offense and the Alabama Crimson Tide destroyed Auburn, 31-7, in Auburn Saturday.

Alabama has now won three of the last four games against Auburn, including the last two in Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Crimson Tide has an all-time record of 38 wins against 27 losses with one tie in the series against Auburn. The 24-point margin of victory was the greatest for Alabama over Auburn since a 48-21 Bama win over the Tigers in 1977. When the game ended, there were far more empty seats than fan-filled ones in the Auburn section, while the jam-packed Alabama section enjoyed a joyous celebration, surpassed only by that in the Crimson Tide dressing room. Fans erupted as Andrew Zow was the last player to leave the field following an interview. Shortly afterwards the adulation was even greater as Bama Head Coach Dennis Franchione returned from his post-game interviews and went down the field in front of the Tide faithful. A final chance to cheer came as the Alabama team came from the dressing room to thank the Bama fans.

The win improved Alabama's record to 5-5 overall and 4-4 in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama has one game remaining and a victory against Southern Miss on November 29 would make the Crimson Tide bowl eligible. Alabama and Southern Miss will kick off shortly after 6 p.m. in that Thursday game, which will be televised by ESPN2.

Alabama played the entire game without quarterback Tyler Watts, who had started the previous nine games before suffering a groin injury early last week. Auburn also had bad luck as the Tigers lost their freshman star running back Carnell Williams with a broken collarbone early in the first quarter.

Although the game was tied briefly in the second quarter at 7-7, Alabama dominated Auburn both offensively and defensively. As the game progressed, Bama became stronger. The Tide had a 14-7 lead at halftime and stretched it to 21-7 with a lightning quick drive to start the second half. While Alabama has had problems protecting fourth quarter leads this year, in this game the Crimson Tide stretched out the lead, scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-7, then adding a Neal Thomas field goal that iced the contest with 11:27 to play.

Curiously, Auburn won the toss but elected to receive. For several plays that appeared to be a good strategy as Auburn moved deep into Alabama territory. However, Bama held and the game settled into a bit of back-and-forth, although Alabama appeared from the beginning to be the stronger team.

Alabama took the lead in the second quarter with a 13-play, 88-yard drive with tailback Santonio Beard taking it in from eight yards out. Thomas tacked on the first of his four extra points. After a good kickoff return, Auburn responded with a very quick drive, 49 yards in five plays, to tie the score a 7-7.

Alabama took the lead for good with an extraordinary drive just before halftime. Bama went 80 yards in eight plays with Zow, who appeared about to be sacked, finding a wide open Jason McAddley over the middle on a 45-yard scoring play that came with just 45 seconds before intermission.

Auburn's decision to take the football in the first half meant Alabama got the second half kickoff, and the Tide took advantage. In one of the quickest drives of more than one play one will ever witness, Alabama went 80 yards in two plays and took only 21 seconds. The first was a Zow pass to Freddie Milons for 33 yards, the second a 47-yard burst by Beard, who, like Zow, had his first start of the season.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, facing second and goal at the Auburn 10-yard line, Zow made a daring play, a pass over the middle to tight end Terry Jones, who caught it at about the two-yard line and hustled into the end zone to make it 28-7. That completed Alabama's longest drive of the season, a 92-yard march

Auburn actually had a chance to take the early lead, but usually reliable Damon Duval missed a 42-yard field goal attempt. Alabama's first attempt at points was also a field goal try and Thomas's 38-yard effort was blocked.

As might be expected, Alabama dominated statistically. The Tide had 25 first downs to Auburn's 15. Bama had 44 rushes for 328 yards, Auburn 28 rushes for 41 yards. Alabama completed 22 of 30 passes for 221 yards, Auburn 16 of 24 passes for 231 yards. Bama had 74 plays for 549 total yards, an average of 7.4 yards per play, while Auburn had 52 plays for 272 yards, an average of 5.2 yards per play.

The only turnover in the game was not a factor, except that Auburn was attempting to gain a little respect with a threat late in the game, only to fumble the ball to Bama. Alabama had about a eight-minute advantage in time of possession. The Tide converted nine of 14 third down opportunities, while Auburn made only four of 10. Alabama was penalized eight times for 84 yards, while Auburn was flagged five times for 46 yards.

Zow threw all but one of the Alabama passes, completing 22 of 29 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Ironically, the one incompletion, thrown by wide receiver Antonio Carter, was to Zow.

Zow became Alabama's career passing leader. He has now completed 452 of 833 passes for 5,893 yards, all Bama records. He now has 33 touchdown passes, two behind the Tide record held by Jay Barker. In his four-year career he started all four years against Auburn, leading Bama to a 3-1 record in those games, and completing 62 of 101 passes for 591 yards and three touchdowns.

Beard had 20 rushes for 199 yards, while Ahmaad Galloway, who had started previously, had 14 runs for 127 yards. Both backs averaged over nine yards per carry. Milons and McAddley each had six receptions, Milons for 79 yards, McAddley for 71, while Carter had five catches for 36 yards.

Strong safety Waine Bacon led Bama defensively with five individual tackles and one assist. Sacks were turned in by Jarret Johnson, Kenny King, Nautyn McKay-Loescher, Hirchel Bolden, and Aries Monroe.

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