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Crimson Tide frustrated with close loss

By By Mark Ehteridge / special to The Star
Oct. 6, 2002
In games as close as Saturday's 27-25 Georgia win over Alabama, it is easy to recall several plays that turned the flow of the game. Alabama needed one more play or one fewer Georgia play. Neither happened and the Crimson Tide fell for the second time this season, both to highly ranked teams.
His team forced three Georgia turnovers. Charlie Peprah stole a bobbling catch from Georgia receiver Fred Gibson and raced 25 yards for a score. Gerald Dixon had an interception and Hirchel Bolden recovered a fumble.
One might expect to get points off of those turnovers. The only points the Tide managed off of those Bulldog miscues were on Peprah play where the defense tallied the points.
Unfortunately for the Tide after Bolden's fumble recovery, the offense fumbled its first play squandering a huge opportunity.
Alabama forced another fumble early in the game. Derrick Pope picked up a fumble and raced to the goalline. He was knocked out of bounds inside the one setting up a sure Bama score. Or so it seemed? Georgia was called for moving prior to the snap and the play was apparently blown dead before the fumble.
Penalties did not just hinder the Alabama defense. Ray Hudson scored on an option pitch but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
Alabama also hurt itself in the kicking game. Brian Bostick had a field goal blocked and a missed extra point. That missed extra point caused the Tide to attempt a two-point conversion that also failed. Those five lost points played a huge role in the loss.
Franchione was apprehensive regarding his special teams entering the game. "I was concerned about the kicking game coming in. We talked about it all week. That was a strength of theirs."
Franchione was also pleased with the play off his freshman signal-caller Brodie Croyle. Croyle, in his second start for injured senior Tyler Watts, threw for a score and ran for another. "He did good. He moved around. He pitched the ball on the option some. He responded pretty well to some tough situations. He had an interception late but that was a tough situation to put him in."
Another Tide player also garnered praise for the head coach. "Shaud (Williams) is a playmaker. He finds a way. He earns the coaches trust that he will continue to make plays. You want to try to put him in position to make plays. He is not the only one, he just continually comes up big. I am just glad he is on our team."
So how good is Georgia? At 5-0, they are the only remaining undefeated SEC team. Are they the best this league has to offer?
The SEC could go a long way to sort itself out next week as Georgia hosts Tennessee, LSU visits Florida, Arkansas travels to Auburn, and South Carolina visits Kentucky.