Alabama State Title For Croom

Sylvester Croom, a former All-America Alabama player and assistant coach and a native of Tuscaloosa, has to feel good about his second consecutive victory over his alma mater. State's 17-12 win in Starkville over Bama gives Croom a claim on the state championship of Alabama.



Mississippi State's win over Alabama completes a 3-0 mark by the Bulldogs against major college teams in the state of Alabama. Croom had previous victories this year over Auburn and over UAB.

Alabama's lead over the Bulldogs slipped to 72-17-3 in an all-time series that dates back to 1896. State's last win over Bama in Starkville came by a 29-7 margin in 2000. Last year the Bulldogs won by 24-16 in Tuscaloosa.

When Alabama safety Rashad Johnson picked off Mississippi State quarterback Wesley Carroll on the third play of the game Saturday, it marked the fifth time in the past seven games Johnson has turned in an interception. More noteworthy, Carroll, a freshman, had not previously suffered an interception.

Carroll had started the season with 137 passes without being picked. He had broken the previous SEC record for consecutive passes without an interception and was one short of the NCAA record of 138. His 138th pass was the one intercepted by Johnson.

Alabama has now recorded at least one interception in nine consecutive games.

Leigh Tiffin's 51-yard first quarter field goal was the longest of his career. He previously had a 44-yarder against Tennessee. The longest field goal try by Tiffin had been 49 yards against Vanderbilt. In the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs he hit on a 50-yard field goal to pull the Tide to within five points of Mississippi State with 6:47 to play.

Tiffin had come into the game having made 17 of 24 field goals and was leading the SEC with an average of 1.88 per game.

Tiffin's famous father, Van Tiffin, had a 52-yard field goal on the final play of the 1985 Auburn game to give Bama a 25-23 win.

Alabama's only sack of the day was turned in by Wallace Gilberry, an 11-yard play early in the game. Gilberry and Mississippi State's Titus Brown had gone into the game tied for second in the SEC in sacks with seven each. Gilberry came within one play of slipping ahead of Brown, but on the final play of the game it was Brown who sacked the Tide's John Parker Wilson.

Senior receiver D.J. Hall extended his streak of having at least one reception to 29 games. He finished the day with five catches for 46 yards. He is Alabama's all-time leader in career receptions (184) and in receiving yards (2,804). He is Bama's leader this year with 57 catches for 886 yards.

Chris Capps was back as a starter at right tackle, the position he played all last year. Capps had been primarily a back-up left tackle this season. Mike Johnson, who had started every game at right tackle for Alabama this year, was moved to right guard, where B.J. Stabler had started since the suspension of Marlon Davis. When Capps went out of the game, Stabler came in at right guard and Johnson went to tackle.

(Davis is one of five Alabama players who have been suspended for the past three games while improper receipt of textbook charges are being addressed. Also missing are starting center Antoine Caldwell, back-up tailback Glen Coffee, and back-up defensive backs Chris Rogers and Marquis Johnson.)

Capps wasn't the only Tider getting his first start of the season. Wide receiver Nikita Stover was also in the starting lineup.

Anthony Johnson's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was his second of the season and the fifth this year for the Bulldogs, who are tied for the lead nationally in that statistic.

Alabama is accustomed to being in college football stadiums when new attendance records are set. It happens once or twice a year because of the drawing power of the Crimson Tide. That proved to be the case again Saturday. Mississippi State Athletics Director Larry Templeton said Saturday's game marked the first hard sellout in Davis-Wade Stadium since it was expanded to 55,082 in 2001.

Official attendance was announced as 56,188.

Alabama captains were offensive tackle Chris Capps, wide receiver Matt Caddell, and defensive back Simeon Castille.

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