7:00 PM ET, September 18, 2004
Bryant-Denny Stadium, TUSCALOOSA, AL
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama starting quarterback Brodie Croyle knew his season was over when he went down at the end of a short run early in the third quarter of the Crimson Tide's 52-0 victory over I-AA Western Carolina on Saturday night.
Croyle sustained a season-ending injury to his right knee with Alabama leading 31-0. He's expected to have surgery Tuesday.
"I went to plant and my knee just went out. This isn't how I imagined it happening," said Croyle, who missed most of his senior year in high school with a similar injury to his left knee.
Coach Mike Shula said he had planned to take Croyle out of the game after the drive.
"It was obviously a tough day for us in a winning effort losing Brodie," Shula said. "A lot of times there are some things that can happen, especially in this game. You don't quite understand, but you've got to believe that all things happen for a reason."
Backup quarterback Mark Guillon, who led the Crimson Tide (3-0) on two second-half touchdown drives, will take over the starting spot.
Croyle completed 14 of 22 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and Guillon was 5-of-7 for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Guillon said he felt confident coming into the game for Croyle.
"As a backup you prepare as a starter every week. No one wants to see that happen, but I'm going to keep going hard," said Guillon, who transferred from Miami.
Alabama quickly pulled away from the overmatched Catamounts (2-1) and finished with 478 yards of total offense to just 191 for Western Carolina.
The Catamounts lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions.
"We said coming into the game that if we didn't turn the ball over then we could win the game. But we did and for us to beat anybody, we have to do a better job in that area," coach Kent Briggs said.
Alabama's Brandon Brooks returned the opening kickoff 87 yards to the Western Carolina 13, setting up Croyle's 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Johnston.
Alabama scored again two minutes later when Marcel Stamps blocked a Western Carolina punt, picked up the ball and ran 14 yards for a touchdown.
Freshman Aaron Johns led the Crimson Tide in rushing with 86, most in the second half. Ray Hudson, the Tide's leading rusher in the first two games, ran for 68 yards, but played sparingly in the second half.
After falling behind 14-0, the Catamounts played the Crimson Tide even for much of the remainder of the first half before Alabama scored 17 points in the final three minutes of the second quarter.
After a 4-yard touchdown run by Kenneth Darby with 2:42 to play and a 37-yard field goal by Bostick, Alabama recovered a fumble. That set up a 41-yard pass from Croyle to Matt Caddell to give Alabama a 31-0 halftime lead.
Western Carolina's only serious scoring threat came in the first quarter, when the Catamounts drove from their own 20 the length of the field before Alabama's DeMeco Ryans recovered a fumble at the Alabama 1.
Darby scored on a 26-yard run in the second half, Le'Ron McClain added a 14-yard scoring run, and Guillon threw a 3-yard TD pass to McClain.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-13||6-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||1-1|
|TD||13:19||CLINT JOHNSTON 9 YD PASS FROM BRODIE CROYLE (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 13 yards.
|TD||11:39||MARCEL STAMPS 14 YD BLOCKED PUNT RETURN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)||0||14|
|TD||2:42||KENNETH DARBY 4 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 61 yards.
|FG||0:48||BRIAN BOSTICK 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yards.
|TD||0:25||MATT CADDELL 41 YD PASS FROM BRODIE CROYLE (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 41 yards.
|TD||8:07||KENNETH DARBY 26 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 43 yards.
|TD||9:27||LE'RON MCCLAIN 3 YD PASS FROM MARC GUILLON (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||5:02||LE'RON MCCLAIN 14 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 34 yards.