Originally created 09/13/98

SEC roundup

Crimson Tide hand Vandy 20th straight SEC setback

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Shaun Alexander rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns Saturday to lead Alabama to a 32-7 victory over Vanderbilt, the Commodores 20th straight Southeastern Conference loss.

Alexander, who had a school-record five touchdowns last week, scored on runs of 36, 8 and 35 yards as Alabama (2-0, 1-0 SEC) beat Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-2) for the 14th consecutive time.

In two games this season, Alexander has scored eight of the Crimson Tide's nine touchdowns and rushed for 321 yards.

While Alexander carried Alabama's offense, the Tide defense held Vanderbilt to minus-33 yards rushing and 145 overall with three interceptions and nine sacks.

Vanderbilt, which benched starter Hi Lewis after only six passes last week in a 42-0 loss to Mississippi State, started freshman David Wallace and his inexperience showed.

The Tide defense harassed him all day, sacking Wallace eight times -- two for safeties -- and picking off two of his passes.Alabama extended its lead to 16-7 with the first safety early in the third quarter, then drove 71 yards in six plays after the free kick to put the game away. Alexander's 8-yard run made it 23-7.

The Tide got its second safety at 5:27 of the third quarter when Kindal Moorehead and Clint Waggoner teamed up to pull Wallace down in the end zone.

By the time Alexander scored his third touchdown of the day, a 35-yard delay draw in the fourth quarter, the game was long over.

Vanderbilt's only score came in the first quarter when Wallace hit Tavarus Hogans on a 50-yard play-action pass for a 7-0 lead.

Alabama dominated from there, with Alexander tying the game on a 36-yard touchdown run at the end of the first. John David Phillips connected with Quincy Jackson on a 31-yard scoring strike in the second quarter that made it 14-7.Mississippi St. -- 14Memphis -- 6

Memphis tops Mississippi State

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- James Johnson rushed for 192 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown, to lead Mississippi State to a victory over Memphis.

The Bulldogs (2-0) struggled offensively most of the game, but pulled away in the final four minutes on a seven-play, 80-yard drive, the final 10 coming on a run by reserve Pig Prather with 29 seconds left.

Memphis (0-2) could manage only field goals of 44 and 32 yards by Ryan White. The Tigers rarely put together much of a scoring threat, barely venturing into Mississippi State territory in the second half.

It took less than 90 seconds for the Bulldogs to score their first touchdown on Johnson's 62-yard run. The Tigers appeared to have stopped the drive on third down but were called for a face mask penalty, giving State a first down on their 38. On the next play, Johnson got free down the right sideline.Throughout the first half, the Tigers seemed intent on self-destruction. They did not get a first down until the first quarter was almost over and penalties kept Mississippi State drives alive.

The Bulldogs had one other scoring threat, but Brian Hazelwood missed a 34-yard field goal.

Memphis did manage White's 44-yard field goal with 13:14 left in the half to trail 7-3 at the break. White' second field goal with 10:54 left in the third period cut the margin to 7-6.

The Bulldogs had only two first downs in the second half until the final drive that culminated with Prather's score. The big play in the drive came when Johnson got outside the Memphis defense for 39 yards on the play prior to Prather's touchdown.

Kentucky -- 52 Eastern Kentucky -- 7

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Tim Couch threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns as Kentucky gave a home-opening crowd the aerial show it wanted in a victory over Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky.

For the second week in a row, Kentucky (2-0) showcased a deep and versatile receiving corps against a relatively inexperienced secondary. Like Louisville last week, Eastern Kentucky (1-1) was overmatched as Couch completed 32 of 41 passes, hitting eight receivers, five of whom caught touchdowns.

Two weeks into the season, Couch has passed for 870 yards and thrown 12 touchdowns without an interception. The Wildcats have scored 120 points and gained 1,249 yards of offense.

The defense, the Wildcats' primary area of concern, held Eastern to 41 passing yards and 184 yards of offense.Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium opener was the first-ever meeting of the schools in football.

Kentucky led 14-0 after one quarter and 35-0 at the half on Couch's three second-quarter touchdown passes. Eastern didn't get on the board until Jon Denton, a transfer from UNLV, threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony DeGregorio with 3:47 left in the third quarter.

The Colonels were able to pressure Couch at times, especially in the first quarter when he threw a couple balls that were nearly intercepted. The Colonels sacked Couch four times, two by linebacker Lee Tinsley, who had eight unassisted tackles.

Even with the passing game's timing slightly off, the Wildcats assembled a 14-play, 73-yard touchdown drive to open the game, capped by fullback Derek Homer's 1-yard run. Linebacker Marlon McCree stripped the ball from Eastern Kentucky tailback Derick Logan, who transferred from Kentucky. David Johnson picked up the loose ball and ran 21 yards for the score.

In the second quarter, Kentucky started springing receivers open downfield. Couch got his first touchdown pass on a quick-count snap pass over the middle to Jermaine White and followed with quick strikes to Kevin Coleman and Craig Yeast.

Couch added second-half touchdown passes to James Whalen Jr. and Garry Davis and Seth Hanson had a 25-yard field goal.

Auburn -- 17 Mississippi -- 0

OXFORD, Miss. -- Ben Leard threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, winning a battle of sophomore quarterbacks in their first Southeastern Conference starts, as Auburn defeated Mississippi.

Auburn (1-1) jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter as Leard hit Karsten Bailey for a 28-yard TD and set up the other touchdown with a 32-yard pass to the Ole Miss 1.

Even though Auburn didn't get into the end zone again, Leard was steady. He finished 16-of-27 with no interceptions.

Auburn, rebounding from a season-opening 19-0 home loss to No. 12 Virginia, beat Ole Miss for the sixth straight year in an SEC opener. The Tigers' next two games are against No. 7 LSU and No. 8 Tennessee.

On the other side, Romaro Miller struggled a week after having the best passing performance by a first-time Ole Miss starter -- 26-of-40 for 332 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions vs. Memphis.

Against an Auburn defense often putting at least eight men on the line of scrimmage, Miller hit just 11-of-35 passes for 104 yards and two interceptions. Both of the interceptions led to Auburn scores.

On Auburn's second possession of the game, Leard converted a fourth-and-1 near midfield with a 2-yard sneak. Two plays later, Bailey made the catch over Timothy Strickland -- who was turned around and never saw the ball coming -- then bulled through the defender the final 5 yards to the end zone.

Ole Miss got the ball back for just one play, but Miller's underthrown pass was intercepted by Rob Pate to set Auburn up at the Ole Miss 44.

Again the Tigers converted a fourth-and-1 -- when fullback Heath Evans powered for two yards -- and Leard followed with a 32-yard completion to Jack Schweiger to the 1.

Evans then plunged in from a yard out to put Auburn ahead 14-0 with 5:19 left in the first quarter.

At halftime, Ole Miss had just two first downs -- one while running out the clock in the final minute -- and 45 yards total offense. The Rebels finished with just seven first downs and 136 total yards. Auburn had 301 total yards.

On a fourth-and-10 late in the third quarter, Miller was intercepted by Larry Casher, who returned the pick 37 yards to the Tigers 46. Twelve plays later, early in the fourth quarter, Robert Bironas kicked a 26-yard field goal.


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