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Alabama takes special' win

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
October 12, 2003
TUSCALOOSA, Ala Once the punting game went south, the University of Southern Mississippi's chance to win against Alabama followed.
Sophomore punter Luke Johnson dropped a snap and had a kick blocked in the fourth quarter, as the Crimson Tide (3-4, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) rolled to a 17-3 win over the Golden Eagles (3-3, 3-0 Conference USA) at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles dodged a bullet on Johnson's dropped snap on his own 47-yard line, with 13:13 left in the game.
Alabama moved the ball to USM's 18-yard line, but kicker Brian Bostick sent a field-goal attempt wide right to freeze the Tide's lead at 10-3.
USM wasn't so lucky the second time it tested fate with a punting mishap.
Alabama's Chris James penetrated USM's backfield on a punt attempt from the Eagles' 26-yard line and blocked the kick.
Tide fullback Greg McLain recovered the loose ball on the 12 and returned it to USM's one-yard line.
Alabama halfback Shaud Williams scored on the first play after the blocked punt to give the Tide a 14-point lead, with 8:37 left in the game.
USM appeared to respond with a big play of its own from the team's return unit on the ensuing kick off.
Eagles return man John Eubanks fielded the kick in his own end zone and sprinted 100 yards for the touchdown, but the play was called back because of holding on USM's 24-yard line.
Alabama stuck to its running game throughout the contest rotating halfbacks Shaud Williams and Ray Hudson in and out of the line up using one of the two runners almost exclusively every other series.
Williams picked 170 yards on 28 carries for the Tide, with two touchdowns, and Hudson ran the ball 18 times for 80 yards.
USM freshman quarterback Damion Carter, making his second career start, completed 5-of-8 passes for 29 yards.
The freshman signal-caller was pulled in favor of sophomore Dustin Almond with 12:21 left in the second quarter.
Almond marched the Eagles 70 yards on his second series of the game, which began with 2:56 left in the opening half, to set up a 27-yard field goal by Darren McCaleb. The kick knocked Alabama's lead to 10-3 entering the break.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound quarterback finished the game going 16-for-28 passing for 196 yards. He also ran for 13 yards on 10 carries.
Williams scored the game's first touchdown for Alabama with 3:22 left in the opening quarter.
The senior tailback broke free from USM's 44-yard line on the right side and sprinted down for the long touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
The Tide increased its lead to 10-0 with 2:56 left in the second quarter, with a 23-yard field goal by Bostick.
Alabama started with the ball on its own 32-yard line on the drive, and the Tide chewed up 7:59 of the game clock, as the home team ran ball 14 times during the 15-play drive.
USM will have an off week before taking on C-USA foe South Florida on Oct. 25 at home.