Saturday, October 01, 2005
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - With Brodie Croyle throwing two long touchdown passes and the defense producing a goal line stand and a bunch more big plays, No. 15 Alabama finally looked like an SEC contender again.
Croyle threw for three TDs, including an 88-yarder to Tyrone Prothro and a 65-yarder to Keith Brown, to lead the Crimson Tide to a 31-3 rout of No. 5 Florida on Saturday.
The Tide (5-0, 3-0) played like the league's most dominating team while handing the Gators (4-1, 2-1) their first loss under coach Urban Meyer.
Alabama, which hadn't beaten a top-five team at Bryant-Denny Stadium in five previous tries, got its biggest win since a 34-7 victory over Florida in the 1999 SEC championship game. Tide fans, who had been hungry for just such a victory since then, mostly remained in the stands well after the game's conclusion celebrating as the players lingered on the field.
The Gators had the league's top defense overall and against the pass, but left having failed to even slow down Croyle until the game was long decided.
He completed 14 of 17 passes for 283 yards. Coming into the game, Croyle hadn't completed a pass longer than 52 yards all season.
Leak, meanwhile, was harassed into a 5-of-16 performance in the first half and his first two interceptions of the season, leaving him three passes shy of Danny Wuerffel's school record streak of 121 without a pick.
It was the Gators' worst defeat since losing 36-7 to LSU in 2002 and ended Meyer's personal 20-game winning streak at Utah and Florida.
Prothro was carted off the field with a splint on his lower left leg after landing awkwardly trying to catch a fourth-down pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. His status was not immediately available.
The Gators trailed 24-3 at halftime and couldn't capitalize on Alabama's one big mistake.
Prothro fumbled away the punt after Alabama's defense pinned Florida at its own 7 on the opening drive. After the Gators again failed to gain a yard before punting, Croyle hit Prothro in stride just across midfield for the long touchdown on the next play.
It was just the beginning. Alabama set up another TD when Chris Harris intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 14 yards to Florida's 2. The Tide added Croyle's 65-yarder to Keith Brown midway through the second quarter on a slant pattern.
Florida's biggest play of the half: Earl Everett's 32-yard run on a fake punt, with little else working. Freddie Roach upended DeShawn Wynn at the goal line on fourth down to open the second quarter and end that threat, the first of several that fell short of the end zone.
Leak finished 16 of 37 for 187 yards with a second interception early in the fourth quarter. His first four series, he couldn't complete any of his five passes with an interception and a fumble recovered by a teammate while Alabama applied constant pressure.
Wynn, who scored four touchdowns last week against Kentucky, gained just 47 yards on 12 carries.
For Alabama, Prothro caught five passes for 134 yards and added a 15-yard touchdown in the third. He also had a punt return for a TD negated by a penalty and narrowly missed a third TD in the fourth quarter on a pass interference call.
Kenneth Darby rushed 15 times for 101 yards.
Croyle broke Alabama's career record held by Andrew Zow and current coach Mike Shula's career record of 35 touchdown passes with his 15-yarder to Prothro in the third quarter.