Sunday, January 02, 2000

Alexander stars in Alabama loss




BY FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

[alexander]
UC's Jermaine tate rebounds over Xavier's lenny Brown and Kevin Frey.
(AP photo)
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        MIAMI — Michigan's defense never really stopped Shaun Alexander. It was the Wolverines' offense that finally slowed down the Boone County native in the Orange Bowl.

        The Alabama star rushed for 161 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns; however, the Southeastern Conference player of the year wasn't much of a factor in the latter stages of the Crimson Tide's 35-34 overtime loss on Saturday night.

        After Michigan overcame a 28-14 third-quarter deficit, Alabama abandoned the running game that had helped it take control of the game after a slow start. One of the reasons was penalties. The Crimson Tide finished with 18 for 132 yards.

        “It was really frustrating,” Alexander said. “We would make a big play, then they would call it back. And (Michigan) would keep making big plays. Whenever we did shoot ourselves in the foot, they took advantage of it.”

        Alexander scored on second-quarter runs of 5 and 6 yards, and finished the first half with 84 yards on 15 carries. He did most of his post-halftime damage on one run, a 50-yard burst up the middle in which he broke three tackles before outrunning Michigan's Whitley James to the end zone.

        Alexander probably would have been the game MVP except that Ryan Pflugner missed an extra point that gave Michigan the victory. The MVP award went to David Terrell, who had 10 receptions for 150 yards and three TDs.

        Alexander embraced Pflugner in support as the kicker left the field.

        “I just wanted to let him know I love him and I felt for him a lot,” Alexander said. “That would be like me fumbling on the last play of the game.

        “It's a game of inches. Sometimes it falls for you, and sometimes it doesn't. We're still really proud of this team. Life goes on. We'll be all right.”

        The senior tailback, just the second player in school history to run for more than 3,000 in his career, set a Crimson Tide bowl record for rushing TDs in a game. He fell 5 yards short of the school's rushing mark of 166 set by Sherman Williams in the 1995 Citrus Bowl.

        Alexander's 50-yard TD run is the longest against Michigan in a bowl game, eclipsing the previous long of 46 yards by Alexander in the Outback Bowl three years ago.

        “Every team has big players they can count on,” Terrell said. “The big players for each team came to play and came through in the clutch. Shaun did a great job for Alabama.”

       



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