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
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
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.