Originally created 10/12/03

Alabama beats Southern Miss



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Shaud Williams ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns and Chris James made two huge special teams plays in the fourth quarter to lift Alabama to a 17-3 win over Southern Miss on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide (3-4) blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, turned another into a 24-yard loss after a botched snap and recovered two fumbles to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Golden Eagles (3-3) blundered through the final 12 minutes in what turned into a battle of third-team quarterbacks.

Alabama couldn't take advantage of James's first big play, missing a field goal after he tackled punter Luke Johnson for a 24-yard loss on a muffed snap.

The next time Johnson lined up, he pulled down a high snap that gave James enough time to make a diving block. Greg McLain scooped up the ball and rambled 11 yards to the 1 with 8:42 left.

Williams, who carried 28 times, nudged across the goal line on the next play.

The Golden Eagles thought they had a game-turning play when John Eubanks returned the kickoff 100 yards for an apparent touchdown.

Both teams had lined up for an extra point, oblivious to the flag way down the field. The referees conferred near midfield before burying Southern Miss at its own 14 with a holding penalty.

Reserve quarterback Dustin Almond led the Golden Eagles downfield and completed a 22-yarder to Etric Pruitt on fourth-and-10. Then Jeremy Clark forced a fumble by Antwon Courington and Carlos Andrews recovered at Alabama's 19.

Pruitt, a safety who made his first career catch, then picked off Brandon Avalos' pass in the end zone with 1:44 left.

It was only the seventh pass for Avalos, a redshirt freshman getting his first start with Brodie Croyle and Spencer Pennington out with separated shoulders.

The Golden Eagles fumbled away another shot at the end zone.

Avalos wasn't asked to do much besides handoff and not make mistakes as Alabama revived a struggling running game, gaining 243 yards on 50 carries.

Avalos was 3-of-7 for 12 yards for the Tide, which had been outrushed by an average of 40 yards during its losing streak.

It was the first time Alabama had passed for less than 100 yards, since Croyle and Tyler Watts combined for just 21 in last year's meeting with Southern Miss.

Ray Hudson gained 76 yards on 18 rushes for Alabama.

Almond replaced a struggling Damion Carter in the second quarter and finished 16-of-28 passing for 196 yards. Carter was starting in place of Micky D'Angelo, out for the third straight week with a concussion.

Southern Miss gained just 17 yards on 35 rushes and converted 5-of-18 third down plays.

Williams' 44-yard burst on third-and-1 put the Tide up 7-0 late in the first quarter. Brian Bostick added a 23-yard field goal to cap a 15-play, 62 yard drive, all on the ground.

A switch to Almond and a roughing-the-passer penalty finally got Southern Miss going. Darren McCaleb kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make it 10-3.

Tide linebacker Freddie Roach was called for roughing the passer on third-and-7 to keep the drive alive. Almond then completed three straight passes for 39 yards to set up the kick.

The Golden Eagles had five of their six first-half first downs on the drive, covering the final 2:56.