Tide Romps

It would be unfair to say that South Carolina's new "Cock and Shoot" offense under Coach Steve Spurrier misfired, just as it would be a mistake to label Alabama's 37-14 win over the Gamecocks in Columbia a signature win. But the Crimson Tide's Saturday victory was a good one.

In a game that many tried to portray as young Alabama Coach Mike Shula against the old veteran, South Carolina's Spurrier, it was, as most games, decided by things like blocking and tackling.

Alabama blocked and tackled very well in routing the Gamecocks. Bama scored in every quarter, while South Carolina scored on its first possession and on its next-to-last chance.

Alabama, which has been lurking just outside the nation's ranked teams since pre-season polls were released, is now 3-0 on the year. It was Alabama's first road game and first Southeastern Conference game.

South Carolina fell to 1-2, including an 0-2 conference mark.

Alabama returns home next Saturday, hosting Arkansas in another SEC game. Kickoff time at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be at either 111:30 a.m. CDT with regional television coverage by Jefferson Pilot or at 2:30 p.m. with national television coverage by CBS. Announcement is expected Monday. >p> The first quarter was marked by Alabama getting a 15-yard touchdown run on a broken play by quarterback Brodie Croyle, and the Gamecocks answering with a touchdown drive that included two unlikely pass receptions–one determined (correctly) by the SEC's replay officials. South Carolina was also fortunate to recover its own fumble on the drive.

Croyle's 15-yard run capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive to start the game. Croyle hit D.J. Hall on a 20-yard completion and Tyrone Prothro had an 18-yard run to highlight the drive. Jamie Christensen was good on the extra point kick and a 7-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.

South Carolina didn't take long to tie it. The Gamecocks got an exceptional pass completion for 19 yards, Blake Mitchell to Sidney Rice for 19 yards, survived a fumble by Mike Davis at the Alabama 14, then moved it to the Tide one on a third down pass to Kenny McKinley. Davis took it in over left end for the touchdown and Josh Brown kicked it to 7-7 with 5:38 remaining in the first quarter.

But South Carolina would not have another first down until the third quarter. The Gamecocks had only 96 yards of total offense in the first two periods.

Alabama had another excellent drive to take the lead, going 75 yards in 13 plays. Croyle hit Hall for 15 yards on a third down play to keep the drive alive, then connected with Keith Brown on a short pass that Brown converted into a 46-yard touchdown and 14-7 lead.

A nice Crimson Tide drive over the last moments of the first quarter and into the first three minutes of the second quarter was disappointing only because it lasted 12 plays, took over five minutes, and resulted in only a field goal. But it was a good field goal, Christensen hitting on a 41-yard try.

Leading 17-10, Alabama got a break on a poor South Carolina punt, setting the Tide up near midfield. The drive was helped along by a Croyle scramble, 15 yards and an intelligent slide to a first down. Croyle also had an alert shovel out of trouble to D.J. Hall for a six-yard gain to near the 15-yard line. Alabama got a lucky break on a third down play just outside the 10 when Prothro lost the handle, forcing a 29-yard field goal by Christensen to make the score 20-7.

The Tide had another great opportunity moments later when Simeon Castille stepped in front of a Blake Mitchell pass and got Bama started at the South Carolina 46. Kenneth Darby ran for 11 yards on first down, but then the offense stalled and after a Jeremy Schatz punt into the end zone, the Gamecocks had 2:14 to go 80 yards. They didn't and had to punt with 1:26. Bama elected to run out the clock and take its 13-point lead to intermission.

South Carolina fumbled on its first two plays of the second half and had a gain of about 35 yards to the Alabama 44. One fumble lost a yard. The other came at the end of a double reverse that gained big yardage, and got a few more when the fumble went out of bounds. The Gamecocks opened the second half with second team quarterback, Antonio Heffner, a redshirt freshman. He did not have a college completion going into the game. South Carolina went for it on fourth and one at the Alabama 35, and Simeon Castille sacked the quarterback for a 17-yard loss, giving Bama the ball at the Gamecocks' 43.

After driving to a first down at the South Carolina 14, with Kenneth Darby getting a 21-yard run, Croyle and Darby had a poor handoff. Three plays later Christensen hit a 27-yard field goal for a 23-7 Bama lead.

DeMeco Ryans forced a fumble on an inside screen pass and Rudy Griffin recovered for Bama at the South Carolina 39 with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter.

Three plays later Darby followed a crunching block by Antoine Caldwell for a 23-yard touchdown. With just over four minutes to play in the third quarter, Bama was up by 30-7. And as the fourth quarter began, many of the South Carolina fans in the original crowd of 82,968 had made an early exit.

With John Parker Wilson taking over at quarterback in the fourth quarter, the Tide drove to another touchdown. Glen Coffee had a long run, then on a third down play Wilson hit Brown on a 36-yard score. It was Brown's second touchdown catch of the day and Wilson's first college touchdown completion. It was 37-7 with under 10 minutes to play.

The Gamecocks tacked on a final score against Alabama reserves with 5:43 to play. Mitchell hit Rice from six yards out. The drive was helped along by a personal foul and a face mask penalty against Bama, the first flags against the Tide in the game.


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