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Williams ensures Shula era gets off to good start

8/30/2003

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Shaud Williams ran for 98 yards and
scored three touchdowns as Alabama gave new coach Mike Shula his
first victory, 40-17 over South Florida on Saturday.

After falling behind 17-7 in the second quarter, Alabama scored
33 unanswered points for the victory.

Shula took the helm after an unsettling nine months at Alabama.
Last year's coach, Dennis Franchione, unexpectedly left for Texas
A&M in December.

Alabama settled on Washington State's Mike Price, but he was
fired before ever coaching a game with the Tide for his conduct at
a strip club and hotel during a weekend golf tournament in
Pensacola, Fla.

Enter Shula. The former Tide quarterback was hired in May
despite having never been a head coach or a collegiate coach at any
level.

The Alabama offense looked sluggish in the first half, running a
system it has practiced for three months. The Tide had three punts,
a missed field goal and a fumble in its first five possessions.

The Bulls jumped out to the early lead on two touchdowns by
Brian Fisher -- one rushing and one receiving -- and a 45-yard field
goal by Santiago Gramatica.

Alabama stayed in the game early thanks to a 51-yard
interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Charlie
Peprah that tied the game at 7 in the first quarter.

Down 17-7 with 1:32 to go in the first half, Alabama drove 80
yards, thanks in large part to a 49-yard pass from Brodie Croyle to
Zach Fletcher. Croyle capped the drive with a 10-yard scoring pass
to Triandos Luke to close the gap to 17-14.

J.R. Reed fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Brian Bostick tied
the score two plays later with a 40-yard field goal.

Alabama looked much better in the second half, as Croyle settled
down and the huge offensive line started to wear down the South
Florida defensive front.

The Tide took its first lead after a 25-yard field goal by
Bostick to open the second half.

South Florida went three-and-out, and Williams broke the game
open with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Alabama a
27-17 lead.

Williams added touchdown runs of 1 yard in the third quarter and
3 yards in the fourth.

Croyle, benefiting from ample time in the pocket, completed 14
of 27 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown.

South Florida quarterback Ronnie Banks, making his first
collegiate start, was under pressure all day, primarily from
defensive end Antwan Odom. He finished 17-of-33 for 199 yards, one
touchdown and one interception.