St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

SEC: Tide holds off Razorbacks

By wire services
Published September 25, 2005

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - It was supposed to be a draw play, but Alabama's Brodie Croyle saw receiver D.J. Hall standing by himself and changed his mind.

Hall slipped into the end zone with no Arkansas defender near him and caught a 5-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the Crimson Tide's 24-13 victory on Saturday.

"I tried not to get too excited and give it away," said Hall, who also had a 43-yard touchdown catch. "I looked at Brodie and gave him a little signal. He looked at me and just nodded his head.

"All I was thinking was, "Don't drop it."'

He didn't, and No.20 Alabama improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1996 and set up a showdown with No.5 Florida.

After a week of dodging talk about the Gators, Croyle said, "We can talk Florida now."

"I told them after the game, "Next week's game just got bigger because of what we did today,"' coach Mike Shula said.

The Razorbacks, 151/2-point underdogs, hardly resembled the team that was manhandled for 70 points and 736 yards by No.1 Southern Cal last weekend but lost their third in a row.

"We didn't get the win, so we can't be too satisfied," Arkansas defensive tackle Keith Jackson said. "But we showed people we're better than what we were (last weekend). And we showed teams they'd better get ready for us."

Tim Castille's 1-yard run 45 seconds into the fourth quarter gave Alabama a 17-3 lead. But the Razorbacks battled back with the help of two big plays.

Two plays after Castille's score, Darren McFadden raced 70 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, brushing off Roman Harper's tackle downfield.

On the next series, Kyle Dickerson blocked Jeremy Schatz's punt, and Sam Olajubutu recovered at the Tide 11. The Razorbacks managed only 2 yards, though, and settled for Chris Balseiro's 27-yard field goal.

The Arkansas defense held again. But on the next drive, Juwan Simpson bobbled then pulled down an interception thrown by Robert Johnson, who had two defenders barreling toward him as he threw, at the Arkansas 40 with 5:50 left. Alabama gained 35 yards on four runs and a pass to set up Hall's clinching touchdown.

No. 7 Georgia 23, Mississippi State 10

STARKVILLE, Miss. - In his first career road start, the Bulldogs' D.J. Shockley passed for two touchdowns and a career-high 312 yards. Georgia improved to 4-0 for the third time in coach Mark Richt's five seasons.

The Bulldogs kicked a field goal on the game's first possession. But Shockley responded right away. He slipped from the grasp of Deljuan Robinson, rolled right and hit an open Danny Ware for a 28-yard touchdown.

In the second quarter, Shockley added a 10-yard touchdown to Leonard Pope, who caught it at the 4 and dragged DeMario Bobo across the goal line.

And Shockley's 33-yard pass to Pope on fourth and 5 set up a 23-yard field goal by Brandon Coutu that made it 20-3 in the third.

VANDERBILT 37, RICHMOND 13: Jay Cutler threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns for the Commodores, who are 4-0 for the first time since 1984. Cutler moved into first all-time among Commodores with 6,769 total yards and 44 touchdowns in front 38,446, the largest crowd at Vanderbilt Stadium in four years.

Up 17-6 at halftime, Vanderbilt broke it open in the third. Cutler hit Jeff Jennings with a 5-yard touchdown to cap an 80-yard drive. After a three-and-out, Cassen Jackson-Garrison scored on a 61-yard run to make it 31-6.

AUBURN 37, WESTERN KY. 14: Blake Field was 13-of-20 for 200 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start for the host Tigers. He replaced Brandon Cox, who was diagnosed with a stomach virus shortly before the game.

On the Hilltoppers' first play, quarterback Justin Haddix ran for 51 yards to the 29. But they lost 5 yards on the next three plays and missed a 48-yard field goal.

On the ensuing series, Kenny Irons gained 54 yards on seven consecutive carries, leading to John Vaughn's 28-yard field goal. After a three-and-out, the Tigers drove 63 yards, capped by Irons' 8-yard run to make it 10-0.

Field threw two touchdowns in the second quarter, 38 yards to Brad Lester and 9 to Anthony Mix, to make it 24-0 at halftime.

WYOMING 24, MISSISSIPPI 14: A year after beating the Rebels 37-32 at home, the Cowboys spoiled the home debut of coach Ed Orgeron. The Rebels had won 24 of 26 nonconference home games.

Wyoming took a 16-7 lead on Deric Yaussi's 53-yard field goal. That came after Luke Chase's fumble recovery on the second half's first play. It became 24-7 on Corey Bramlet's 4-yard pass to Wade Betschart late in the third. That came after the Rebels' Will Mosely mishandled a snap and sent a punt minus-8 yards.

SOUTH CAROLINA 45, TROY 20: The host Gamecocks converted five turnovers into touchdowns. The Trojans fumbled on their first possession, with South Carolina recovering at its 11. Four plays later, Blake Mitchell hit Syvelle Newton for a 35-yard score.

An interception on Troy's next series led to Sidney Rice's 11-yard touchdown catch. The Gamecocks made it 31-13 in the third on Brandon Isaac's 11-yard fumble return.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.