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Just as expected, defenses shine in Mobile Bowl

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Dec. 21, 2000
MOBILE For a matchup that was heavily hyped as a standoff of the nation's top two defenses, the 2000 GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl went a long way toward living up to its billing.
In the process, it gave the Texas Christian Horned Frogs a rude, albeit early welcome to Conference USA.
The Southern Miss defense held a potent TCU offensive attack that averaged 37 points per game coming in to just 21 and 265 total yards on 65 plays for an average of just 4.1 yards a snap.
LaDainian Tomlinson, a Heisman candidate and Doak Walker award winner was made to look just slightly above average, as he was held to a season-low 118 yards.
Surprise didn't factor into USM quarterback Jeff Kelly's thinking when the defense forced TCU to punt it away with only 33 seconds left. "I wasn't really surprised because our defense has been making plays for us all year," Kelly said. "We just told em' on the sidelines we wanted one more shot to try and pull it out."
Leo Barnes was his usual candid self when referring to the performance of his unit, and was also complimentary of TCU's D' as well.
Back and forth arguments could be made. TCU had not allowed more than 27 points all season, and when they did, they lost at San Jose St. The Horned Frogs hadn't allowed a third quarter touchdown all season long until Wednesday.
The second quarter block of a Brant Hanna field goal try was TCU's first of the year. TCU recorded seven tackles for a loss of 15 yards and had two sacks, compared to just three TFLs and a sack for USM.
But the defense also grabbed a pair of interceptions. Freshman linebacker Rod Davis registered 14 solo tackles. 14. Also, when it really mattered, the defense got a stop in order to give the offense one last shot at bowl bedlam.
So just which defense was the better on this night?
Team captain and senior Defensive End Cedric Scott, who garnered stops, may have summed it all up nicely.
It seems that exactly what they did.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. Email him at rdark@meridianstar.com.

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