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Alabama takes big win over Vanderbilt

By By Mark Etheridge / special to The Star
Nov. 2, 2002
Nashville, TN Alabama's defense is hitting its stride. The stingy Alabama stop troops held Vanderbilt to 162 yards total offense as the Crimson Tide defeated the homestanding Commodores 30-8 at Dudley Field Saturday afternoon. It was the fourth consecutive SEC road victory for the Tide.
The Alabama offense found success through the air passing for 271 yards in the win. Quarterbacks Tyler Watts and Brodie Croyle both had success against a Vandy defense stacked to stop the Alabama running game. Watts was 15 of 21 for 176 yards. Croyle added 5 of 9 for 94 yards and a score, a 41 yard pass to Dre Fulgham. Watts was the Tide's leading rusher with 59 yards on 14 carries and a score. Shaud Williams ran for 52 yards with a touchdown.
Fulgham caught five passes for 92 yards but was a bit overshadowed by teammate Triandos Luke who nabbed nine passes for 102 yards, a team high in yardage this season.
Alabama's defense held Vandy's quarterback Jay Cutler to 7 of 18 for 116 yards. Leading receiver Dan Stricker was silent on the stat sheet with only one catch, a late ten yard TD grab on the Tide backups.
Harper – who recovered a fumble that led to a Kyle Robinson field goal – and his Tide secondary mates kept the Commodores at bay all day. They forced two turnovers (Waine Bacon picked off a Cutler pass) and held Vandy to nine first downs.
Childress had a big play on Vandy's biggest play, a 44 yard screen pass to tailback Kwame Doster. The 330 pound Childress chased down Doster fifty yards from the scrimmage line to make the play.
Alabama got on the board on the opening drive as Watts and Luke connected on four catches for 35 yards on the drive. Watts scored on an option keeper from nine yards out for the score. Alabama added a pair of field goals to lead 13-0 at halftime.
In the second half, the Tide took advantage of a thirteen minute edge of time of possession to salt away the win. Watts engineered a twelve play 54 yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter. Shaud Williams reached the end zone on a nine yard run.
After Robinson's third field goal made it a twenty-three point lead, Croyle capped the Tide scoring hitting Fulgham on back-to-back pass plays. The pair connected on a 19 yard slant and then a 41 yard bomb for the score.
The game was played in front of 36,407 fans, most of them clad in Crimson. "One thing about our fans," Franchione said, "they will always be there and they will always be heard."
Alabama (7-2 4-1) will host Mississippi State next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Tuscaloosa. There will be no television for the game.