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Crimson Tide stomps Ole Miss

By Staff
Alabama takes 42-7 victory over Rebels
By Mark Etheridge / staff writer
October 20, 2002
TUSCALOOSA, Ala Junior running back Santonio Beard tied a school record with five touchdowns as Alabama pounded Mississippi 42-7 Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The junior had scoring runs of 25, 35, 9, 2, and 10 as the Crimson Tide improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. Mississippi fell to 5-2 and 2-1.
Beard finished with 138 yards on just 13 carries. His five touchdowns tied the mark set in 1998 by Shaun Alexander versus Brigham Young.
Beard was not the only person in shock as the Rebels searched for answers after the loss.
Alabama jumped on the scoreboard first with a nine play 85 yard drive. Quarterback Tyler Watts returned after being sidelined by injury since the opening drive of the Southern Miss game. Watts mixed in some option and a pair of short passes to methodically move the ball into Rebel territory. On his first carry of the game, Santonio Beard rambled twenty-five yards for a score. Kyle Robinson made the extra point, his first of the season.
After forcing a Rebel punt, Alabama kept the pressure on the Rebels. Watts converted a third and nine pass to Dre Fulgham getting the Tide to the Rebel 35. On Beard's second carry of the game, the junior raced 35 yards for the score.
The Rebels answered back with a nine play drive covering 70 yards. Quarterback Eli Manning kept his team in positive situations getting quality gains on first down. In fact, in the drive Ole Miss only had to convert one third down and it was for one yard. Manning found running back Robert Williams on a wheel route for seventeen yards to reach the Tide fourteen. After a penalty took the ball to the two, Williams danced in unharmed for the score. Jonathan Nichols point after made it a seven-point game.
The Rebels forced Alabama to three plays and a punt on the next possession. The Alabama crowd greeted senior punter Lane Bearden with a rousing ovation as he took the field. Bearden tore his anterior cruciate ligament versus Arkansas on September 28 but took the field Saturday, punted, and limped off the field.
Watts left the field in the second quarter after reinjuring his left foot. Redshirt freshman Brodie Croyle took over behind center and to the credit of the coaching staff, the Alabama offense did not miss a beat.
Both teams defenses provided boosts in the second quarter. Manning was sacked by Bama tackle Jarret Johnson back at his ten yard. After a seventeen yard punt return by Shaud Williams gave the Tide the ball on the Rebel 32, Mississippis defense rose to the occasion. Beard fumbled an option pitch from Croyle and linebacker Eddie Strong was waiting to pounce for the recovery.
Ole Miss could not move the ball and punted giving the Tide the ball again in Rebel territory at the 49. A penalty killed Alabama's drive and the teams exchanged punts with the Tide taking over once again on the Rebel 49. It appeared that the Rebel defense would squelch another Alabama opportunity but on third and thirteen Croyle found a streaking Fulgham for a 51 yard score.
The third quarter followed the script drafted in the first half. The Rebels drive was stopped on a sack by Bama end Naughtn McKay-Loescher. Taking over on the fifty, Croyle found Fulgham on a third and six play for 26 yards. Two plays later, Beard scored for the third time, this time from nine yards out.
Manning led a march down the field getting the Rebs inside the Tide five. He completed passes to Chris Collins (19 yards), Jason Armstead (24 yards), and Mike Espy (23 yards). A defensive holding penalty set up first and goal on the three. After a pair of Vashon Pearson runs got the ball to the two, Manning went to the air. His third down pass was knocked down by Kindal Moorehead setting up a fourth and goal from the two. Manning looked for Espy on a slant but the two could not connect turning the ball over on downs.
After some hard running punched the ball down the field, Croyle went for the jugular connecting with Sam Collins on a 64 yard bomb down the Rebel three. Beard scored on the next play for his fourth score of the day. That drive totaled 98 yards in only seven plays.
The Rebs drove down the field again behind Mannings arm. The big play came as he found Collins on a slant pattern for 34 yards. But just as was the case on the prior possession, the yards got tougher at the Alabama end. After a first down run lost three, Manning missed on three straight throws from his thirteen ending the threat without points.
Manning finished 18 of 32 with 219 yards with an interception. Alabamas two quarterbacks combined to go 10 of 17 for 222 yards and one touchdown. Bama receivers Fulgham (3 catches for 87 yards) and Sam Collins (3 catches for 83 yards) paced the Bama offense. Chris Collins led rebel receivers with three catches for 61 yards.
Defensively, Tide free safety Charles Jones led all tacklers with eight tackles. Matt Grier led the Rebels with six stops.
Alabama goes on the road next Saturday to Knoxville to face Tennessee. Ole Miss will visit Arkansas next Saturday.