Scores

Final

Southern Miss 3

(4-1, 3-0 C-USA)

Alabama 27

(5-2, 2-2 SEC)

3:30 PM ET, October 16, 2004

Bryant-Denny Stadium, TUSCALOOSA, AL

1 2 3 4 T
USM 0 3 0 03
ALA 10 3 0 1427

Tide wins first vs. ranked opponent since 2002

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Southern Mississippi is the perfect homecoming opponent for Alabama, even when it's ranked.

Kenneth Darby rushed for 197 yards and scored two touchdowns, one on a run and one on a pass, as Alabama beat Southern Mississippi (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) 27-3 Saturday for its first win against a ranked opponent in nearly two years.

Darby, filling in for the injured Ray Hudson, had eight straight carries on one drive in the first half and finished with 6.8 yards per rush on 29 carries. Darby said fatigue wasn't a factor because he worked extra hard in practice knowing he would be the workhouse against the Golden Eagles.

"It's a great win for us to beat a ranked opponent," Darby said. "This will send a signal out to the rest of the teams on our schedule that we're ready."

Southern Miss (4-1) had been averaging nearly 29 points per game, but the Golden Eagles never got untracked against Alabama (5-2). The Crimson Tide limited Southern Miss to 148 yards rushing and only 23 yards passing.

"Offensively we didn't get anything done with consistency," said Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower. "I thought we showed signs at times of being able to run the ball, but you're got to be able to throw it, and we could not."

Alabama last beat a ranked team on Nov. 16, 2002, a 31-0 victory at then-No. 11 LSU under former coach Dennis Franchione. The Tide lost four times to Top 25 opponents in 2003, coach Mike Shula's first year.

Shula didn't celebrate too long: He wasn't happy with the Tide's penalties -- seven for 65 yards.

"It just felt like we beat ourselves there with a lot of penalties," said Shula. "We've got to do a better job there."

Despite being ranked for the first time since 2000, Southern Miss was the homecoming opponent for Alabama. The Golden Eagles have won only six times in 42 games against the Crimson Tide, which scheduled them for six previous homecoming games.

Darby seemed to get stronger as he went along, gaining big chunks of yards all game. He scored on a 12-yard pass from Spencer Pennington in the third quarter and a 9-yard run set up by a Tide interception in the fourth.

Alabama's only other TD came on a 1-yard run by Tim Castille. The defense also set up that score when Freddie Roach forced a fumble by Anthony Harris and Mark Anderson recovered at the Southern Miss 3.

Brian Bostick added field goals of 45 and 37 yards for Alabama, but he missed from 46 yards.

Pennington, who started the year as a third stringer but moved up after starter Brodie Croyle was injured, was 4-of-9 for 72 yards with an interception.

Filling in for injured Southern Miss starter Dustin Almond, Damion Carter went 5-of-20 for 16 yards with one interception. Jeremy Young completed one of three pass attempts for 7 yards.

Alabama still needs one more win to be eligible for its first bowl trip since 2001. During that time, the Tide has been through NCAA sanctions and a series of coaching changes. It won't be easy -- four of the Tide's last five games are against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
USM
ALA
1st Downs1213
Total Yards171334
Passing2372
Rushing148262
Penalties8-577-65
3rd Down Conversions2-135-13
4th Down Conversions1-10-1
Turnovers21
Possession25:2934:31

Passing Leaders

Southern MissC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
Young1/372.300-
Carter5/20160.801-
AlabamaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTQBR
Penningt...4/9728.011-

Rushing Leaders

Southern MissCARYDSAVGTDLG
Harris11504.5015
Thomas7497.0015
AlabamaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Darby291976.8131
Castille12473.9113

Receiving Leaders

Southern MissRECYDSAVGTDLG
Lawrence11212.0012
Perine11010.0010
AlabamaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Darby2115.5112
Prothro13535.0035

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERUSMALA
FG6:25BRIAN BOSTICK 45 YD FG
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yards.
03
TD3:13TIM CASTILLE 1 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)
Drive info: 2 plays, 3 yards.
010
SECOND QUARTERUSMALA
FG13:41DARREN MCCALEB 37 YD FG
Drive info: 11 plays, 60 yards.
310
FG1:01BRIAN BOSTICK 37 YD FG
Drive info: 10 plays, 46 yards.
313
FOURTH QUARTERUSMALA
TD14:55KENNETH DARBY 12 YD PASS FROM SPENCER PENNINGTON (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)
Drive info: 10 plays, 86 yards.
320
TD5:31KENNETH DARBY 9 YD RUN (BRIAN BOSTICK KICK)
Drive info: 1 plays, 9 yards.
327