Sunday, September 14, 2003

Alabama 27, Kentucky 17

Crimson Tide stifle Wildcats; 'Bama outgains UK 464-195

The Associated Press

Alabama defenders Anthony Bryant (97), Derrick Pope (6) and Roman Harper (41), react after Bryant and Pope sacked Kentucky quarterback Jaren Lorenzen.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama's offensive linemen promised the holes would be there, and Shaud Williams had no problem finding them.

Williams ran for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries as Alabama overpowered Kentucky 27-17 on Saturday night.

"Those big hogs up front got it set in their heads they were going to come out and open up some holes," said Williams. "That's exactly what they did."

The Crimson Tide (2-1) controlled both lines of scrimmage and outgained the Wildcats (1-2) 464-195 yards in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Alabama has won 12 straight SEC openers and owns the series 32-2-1.

The Tide's Brodie Croyle completed 14 of 27 passes for 198 yards, including a key 21-yarder to Brandon Greer on fourth-and-6 late in the game. Williams ran for a 7-yard touchdown on the next play with 5:11 left and also scored on a 15-yarder and 2-yarder.

Alabama didn't cash in on some scoring opportunities early and led just 10-7 at halftime.

"I was nervous at the half and there in the third quarter too," coach Mike Shula said. "We've all been in games where we feel like we're getting a lot of yards but we don't have points to show for it.

"I was nervous for awhile, but the guys continued to believe."

Jared Lorenzen did his best to raise some doubts.

He finally was able to connect downfield, twice hitting Derek Abney down the left sidelines, including a 24-yard touchdown with 4:03 to play. Abney set up the scoring drive with a 44-yard kick return into Alabama territory.

The Tide's Brandon Greer recovered the following onside kick and Alabama ran out the clock to end Kentucky's hopes of a big comeback.

It was the SEC opener for both Shula and new Wildcats coach Rich Brooks, two coaches who took over teams on NCAA probation with no bowl games or titles possible this season.

Shula got the win, but Brooks saw some positives, too.

"We played like we wanted it," he said. "We did some very good things against a very good football team on the road, in a hostile environment."

Alabama rushed for 266 yards on 53 carries while Kentucky gained just 26 yards on 23 rushes. Lorenzen was 15-of-24 for 169 yards but had to rely on short passes under constant pressure, and the Tide's swarming defense bottled up most of those.

"We didn't come down here to contend," said Lorenzen, who sprained a knee ligament but said it was nothing serious. "We didn't want that. We wanted to win. We had a lot of chances to do that but you have to give credit to Alabama."

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter after Alabama led 10-7 at halftime. But Williams squirted through the line for a 2-yard touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter for a 20-10 lead.

Taylor Begley missed a 49-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter for the Wildcats.

The Tide defense allowed few such opportunities.

Kentucky had just 6 yards and no first downs on its first four possessions before Lorenzen got the offense going with his arm and his legs. The Wildcats defense also came up big late in the first half.

Lorenzen hit tight end Win Gaffron on a 33-yard third-down strike to keep the drive alive and ran 10 yards on a quarterback draw to the 1. Draak Davis plunged into the end zone on the next play to make it 10-7 with 6:33 left in the first half.

Kentucky's Chad Anderson picked off a Croyle pass in the end zone with two seconds left in the half, ending a 16-play drive.

It was Croyle's third attempt into the end zone from the 4-yard line.

The Tide opened the scoring with Williams' 15-yard run and a 43-yard field goal by Brian Bostick, who missed a 27-yarder to end the opening drive.

Williams reached 2,000 yards for his career on a 4-yarder to start the game and barely stopped running much of the night.

The Tide had a nearly 13-minute edge in time of possession and made 29 first downs to Kentucky's 11.

Alabama linebacker Derrick Pope came in hoping not to get trampled by the massive Lorenzen and left touting the Tide defense.

"All week I was concentrating on not getting run over," Pope said. "If we keep doing what we're doing, I think we can have the No. 1 defense in the country."

First Quarter

Ala-Williams 15 run (Bostick kick), 3:52

Second Quarter

Ala-FG Bostick 43 (10:13)

Ken-Davis 1 run (Begley kick), 6:33

Third Quarter

Ala-FG Bostick 30, 7:59

Ken-FG Begley 27, 2:22

Fourth Quarter

Ala-Williams 2 run (Bostick kick), 14:56

Ala-Williams 7 run (Bostick kick), 5:11

Ken-Abney 24 pass from Lorenzen (Begley kick), 4:03


First downs1129
Return Yards14956
Time of Possession23:3436:26


RUSHING-Kentucky, Davis 10-28, Bernard 1-6, Lorenzen 8-2, Bwenge 1-0, Tm 1-(minus 1), Abney 1-(minus 2), Cook 1-(minus 7). Alabama, Williams 30-174, Darby 8-62, Hudson 6-18, Croyle 7-13, McClain 1-1, Tm 1-(minus 2).

PASSING-Kentucky, Lorenzen 15-24-0-169. Alabama, Croyle 14-27-1-198.

RECEIVING-Kentucky, Abney 5-64, Holt 3-30, Davis 3-21, Gaffron 1-33, Burton 1-13, Bernard 1-9, Bwenge 1-(minus 1). Alabama, Luke 3-50, Fulgham 3-32, Fletcher 2-35, McClain 2-35, Greer 2-26, Johnston 1-17, Williams 1-3.

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