Saturday, September 10, 2005
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Brodie Croyle threw for two touchdowns and 330 yards Saturday to lead Alabama to a 30-21 victory over Southern Mississippi, displaced from home and starting its season a week late because of Hurricane Katrina.
The Crimson Tide (2-0) managed only 10 yards rushing through halftime, so Croyle relied on passes to Tyrone Prothro and D.J. Hall to get Alabama moving.
Prothro had 134 yards on seven catches, and Hall caught five passes for 130 yards and a score. Croyle completed 21 of 37 passes with a costly interception, and Tim Castille had two short scoring runs.
Southern Mississippi, loacated just 70 miles from the coast, was supposed to open the season at home last week against Tulane, but the game was rescheduled until Nov. 26 because of Katrina.
With power and water knocked out and food scarce, the Golden Eagles moved the football program north from Hattiesburg about 300 miles to Memphis, Tenn., on Sept. 1. The team remained there until coming to Alabama but headed back home afterward.
The game looked like an Alabama blowout early on. Less than a minute in, Hall caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Croyle that was set up by Croyle's 52-yard pass to Prothro on the opening play. Jamie Christensen added a 33-yard field goal to put the Tide up 10-0.
The Golden Eagles came back thanks to Alabama miscues. Gerald McRath returned an interception 32 yards for a TD when Croyle floated a short pass, and Jasper Faulk returned a 24-yard punt by Jeff Aul to the Alabama 12 to set up a touchdown pass by Dustin Almond to a jumping Anthony Perine on the next play.
Almond added a 37-yard scoring pass to Perine to put the Golden Eagles up 21-10. But Alabama started coming back on an amazing catch and controversial call right before halftime.
With the Tide offense misfiring, Croyle lofted a deep pass to Prothro, who caught the ball behind Faulk's back and fell into the end zone. Officials initially signaled a touchdown, but the Tide got the ball at the 1 after a review, and Le'Ron McClain caught a 1-yard pass from Croyle for the score.
Alabama took control after the half, going ahead for good on a 2-yard run by Castille on its opening possession and using an 85-yard, 12-play drive capped by another 2-yard Castille scoring run to put the game away.
Southern Miss finished with only nine yards rushing on 23 attempts, compared to 140 yards for Alabama on 43 runs. Almond completed 15-of-30 passes for 190 yards with one interception.
The Crimson Tide struggled on special teams all night, with Aul and Jeremy Schatz averaging 31 yards on five punts to 46 yards on eight punts for Southern's Luke Johnson. Also, Christensen missed a 42-yard field goal and an extra point.
The game was the last one scheduled between Alabama and Southern Miss, which have been playing since the 1940s but didn't renew their contract past this season.