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Peete, USC Go Down in a High Tide, 24-3 : Trojan Passer Hurt as 'Bama Wins the Aloha

December 29, 1985|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

HONOLULU — One season ended for USC in disappointment and frustration Saturday in the Aloha Bowl, and prospects for next season also got a jolt.

Alabama's smothering defense completely contained USC, especially in the second half, as the Crimson Tide beat the Trojans, 24-3, at Aloha Stadium.

USC can endure a defeat, however one sided. But the Trojans also lost their starting quarter back, Rodney Peete, for a period of from six to eight months.

Peete tore his left Achilles' tendon with 7:17 left in the game. It happened on a routine pass play. "Someone was blocked into me and fell on the back of my leg," the redshirt freshman said. "I didn't feel anything at first, but when I tried to get up I couldn't put any pressure on my leg. I just couldn't get up."

Peete will undergo surgery Monday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.

A promising baseball player, Peete will have to forgo that season. Now it's a question whether he will be rehabilitated in time to help the Trojans in 1986. An Achilles' injury is regarded as one of the worst that an athlete can suffer.

Peete and his teammates were completely stifled by Alabama, a team with an efficient offense and a quick-striking defense.

USC was restricted to only 61 yards net rushing and, if the Trojans can't run, they usually don't win.

There was no indication in the first half that USC would be so thoroughly dominated in the second half. It was a stalemate at 3-3, and USC lost a touchdown on Peete's pass to wide receiver Ken Henry because of a double-motion penalty on the play.

But Alabama took charge in the second half. USC was stifled offensively, providing the Crimson Tide with excellent field position. They only had to drive 42, 44 and 44 yards for touchdowns, nibbling away at the USC offense with the running of freshman halfbacks Gene Jelks and Bobby Humphrey and then striking on some big plays.

"It's a tremendous defense, the best we've played," USC Coach Ted Tollner said. "We ran some screens and draw in the first half to slow them down. We thought we had a chance to win the game at halftime and we felt we could run on them, but we couldn't. They just wore us down. Our defense was just on the field too long."

USC looked like the 6-5 team it was during the regular season, and Alabama showed why it ended the season with an 8-2-1 record while playing one of the toughest schedules in the country.

Now 'Bama is 9-2-1 and USC is 6-6. Moreover, Alabama has now won as many bowl games as USC, 21, to share the national lead in this category.

Alabama has been a tough intersectional foe for USC. The Tide holds a 7-2 series lead, winning this time on a neutral field before a crowd of 35,183 on a mild Hawaiian night.

The Crimson Tide got its touchdown on a 1-yard dive by fullback Craig Turner, a 24-yard pass from quarterback Mike Shula to tight end Clay Whitehurst and a 14-yard reverse by flanker Albert Bell, the former All-City player from Crenshaw High.

The game was a statistical standoff in the first half, with USC getting 116 total yards to Alabama's 114. But the Trojans could muster only 81 total yards in the second half and a paltry 16 net rushing.

Alabama wound up with 317 total yards as Jelks, Humphrey and Turner rushed for 79, 55 and 53 yards, respectively.

Tollner had said that he wanted to open up USC's offense in the Aloha Bowl, a nice consolation trip for a team that hadn't lived up to preseason expectations during the season.

But the offense stagnated, as it had at times during the regular season against good teams. Of course, 'Bama was largely responsible.

"Their defense is the best by far we've met," Tollner said. "And their offense was good. I'd say they're probably the best team we've played.

Alabama's defensive charge was led by All-American linebacker Cornelius Bennett. But his supporting cast was also first rate.

"They are great athletes who are well disciplined and don't skimp on their techniques," said James FitzPatrick, USC's senior offensive tackle. "Sometimes, good athletes don't always pay attention to their techniques but Alabama did. They were definitely the fastest defensive team we've met, and Bennett has great speed with great moves."

USC's 61 net yards rushing was the lowest since the 49 the 1983 team had in a 38-14 loss to South Carolina.

Ryan Knight got most of the work at tailback and could gain only 40 yards in 16 carries. Aaron Emanuel, who has been bothered by a sprained ankle, had only three rushing attempts for a net of four yards.

Peete completed 10 of 17 passes for 65 yards and had one pass intercepted. His counterpart, Shula, son of Miami Dolphin Coach Don Shula, was 8 of 15 for 112 yards and a touchdown pass.

USC never got past its 39-yard line throughout the third quarter and into the early minutes of the fourth. By that time, Alabama was breezing, 24-3.

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