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Alabama Hits Ground to Beat LSU and Its No. 1 Defense

November 17, 2002|From Associated Press

Santonio Beard ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns as No. 10 Alabama defeated No. 14 Louisiana State, 31-0, Saturday night at Baton Rouge, La.

In a game featuring two of the nation's top defenses, Alabama's ground game was the difference. The Crimson Tide ran for 300 yards and held the ball for 34 minutes 37 seconds.

The Tigers were shut out for the first time since Alabama beat them, 26-0, in 1996. It was LSU's most lopsided shutout loss since a 35-0 defeat to Oklahoma in the 1950 Sugar Bowl.

Alabama, 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the conference, is banned from bowl participation and can't win the SEC West Division. But the Crimson Tide, which has won five consecutive games, put pressure on LSU to return to the conference championship game. The Tigers must win both of their remaining games to make the title game.

The Tigers (7-3, 4-2) had the No. 1 overall defense in the nation, giving up 246.4 yards a game. Alabama was No. 3, giving up 249.1.

The game was scoreless until late in the second quarter, when Beard capped a 64-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. The extra-point kick went wide right, and Alabama led 6-0 with 3:52 left in the half.

The Tide's running game kicked in on their last drive of the half. Alabama went 96 yards on nine plays -- all runs. Tyler Watts ran the last two yards for the score with 12 seconds left. Tiarandos Luke ran for the two-point conversion for a 14-0 halftime lead.

No. 20 Florida 28, South Carolina 7 -- Rex Grossman completed 24 of 36 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns to lift the Gators (8-3, 6-2) at Gainesville, Fla. The Gators didn't have the game in hand until Grossman connected with Kelvin Kight for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 9:08 left. The score was set up by a 21-yard reception by Grossman from receiver Keiwan Ratliff. South Carolina is 5-6, 3-5.

Tennessee 35, Mississippi State 17 -- Cedric Houston ran for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns as Tennessee turned to its ground game and defense to win at Starkville, Miss. James Banks made his first start for Tennessee (6-4, 3-3) in place of quarterback Casey Clausen, who was out because of an ankle injury, and completed three of eight passes for 90 yards. Mississippi State (3-7, 0-6) lost three fumbles and the Volunteers converted the turnovers into 21 points.

Kentucky 41, Vanderbilt 21 -- Derek Abney set an NCAA record with his sixth kick return for a touchdown and Artose Pinner ran for a career-high 224 yards and four touchdowns to help Kentucky (7-4, 3-4) win at Lexington, Ky. Pinner set a school record with his eighth 100-yard rushing game of the season. His four touchdown runs tied a school record. Vanderbilt is 2-9, 0-7.

Arkansas 24, Louisiana Lafayette 17 -- Quarterback Matt Jones had 13 carries and ran for 129 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown, and completed nine of 13 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Kenny Hamlin's interception in the final two minutes sealed the victory for Arkansas (7-3) at Fayetteville, Ark. Louisiana Lafayette is 3-8.

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