Bama Throttle MSU 38-0 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/08/03

Bama Throttle MSU 38-0

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) _ One of the highlights of Jackie Sherrill's 13-year tenure as coach of Mississippi State was a string of four victories in five seasons against Alabama after years of Crimson Tide domination. Those days are over. As Sherrill heads toward retirement, the Crimson Tide is once again dominating Mississippi State. Brodie Croyle threw three touchdown passes in the first half, including two long ones to Zach Fletcher, to lead Alabama to a 38-0 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday. The Crimson Tide have won three straight over the Bulldogs. This one looked like the old days, back when Sherrill was one of coach Bear Bryant's boys and the Tide would routinely embarrass the Bulldogs. Alabama was up 14-0 less than four minutes into the game and was never threatened. ``It was a lot of fun,'' Croyle said. ``We really needed that kind of game. We're treating this as a new season and right now we're 1-0.'' The Crimson Tide (4-6, 2-4 SEC) snapped a four-game conference losing streak and moved out of the SEC West basement, leaving the Bulldogs (2-7, 1-4) to reclaim their familiar spot. Mississippi State, which has finished last in the division the past two seasons, lost its third straight since Sherrill announced he will retire at the end of the season. Sending the coach out a winner doesn't appear to be much of a motivator for the Bulldogs. Opponents have outscored Mississippi State 125-30 during the slide. ``I knew we just wanted to keep them down, if they were down,'' said Antwan Odom, who had two of Alabama's five sacks. Sherrill even conceded that his players are having a hard time keeping up the fight. When asked if the Bulldogs had quit on the season, he said, ``Emotionally, that's probably true. We've got some guys fighting, but we can't blow the balloon back up.'' Sherrill, the winningest coach in school history, needs one more victory to ensure a winning record with the Bulldogs. He is 75-72-2 with three games to go. Alabama's first-year coach Mike Shula could only wish every game was this easy. ``We've been on the other side of that this season,'' Shula said. Croyle was 9-of-14 for 183 yards and Shaud Williams, the SEC's leading rusher, ran for 89 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries The Crimson Tide defense was just as dominant, holding Mississippi State to a season-low 152 yards to notch Alabama's first shutout since a 31-0 victory over LSU Nov. 16, 2002.

 Kevin Fant was 14-of-29 for 100 yards with two interceptions for the Bulldogs. He was sacked five times as Odom and fellow linemen Jeremy Clark and Dominic Lee pounded the senior quarterback. ``We kept (Fant) under duress today and, speaking as a quarterback, when you are constantly under pressure it is hard to be accurate,'' Shula said. Alabama broke Mississippi State's fragile spirits early. On the third play from scrimmage, Croyle dumped the ball to Fletcher in the flat and the senior turned the harmless looking play into an 86-yard touchdown with the help of several missed tackles. Fant was intercepted on Mississippi State's first possession and three plays later Croyle and Tyrone Prothro hooked up on a 17-yard TD to make it 14-0. ``I think we took the punch to them,'' Tide linebacker Freddie Roach said. Croyle found Fletcher for another big play in the second quarter on a fourth-and-6 from Mississippi State's 32. With a rusher in his face, Croyle fired to Fletcher on the left sideline. When the Bulldogs' Eric Fuller went for the interception and missed, Fletcher turned for the easy score and a 24-0 lead. ``It seemed like they were bringing (the blitz) on every play,'' Croyle said. ``We hit our hots and they turned into touchdowns.'' From there, Alabama coasted to its 70th victory over Mississippi State...its most over any opponent. ``Their offensive line beat our defensive line pretty bad,'' Bulldogs linebacker T.J. Mawhinney said. ``Our quarterback was lying on the ground all day, so our offensive line got beat pretty bad too. That pretty much sums up the game.''

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