KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Alabama's seniors can't go to a bowl
game, but they can at least say they helped end the Crimson Tide's
seven-game losing streak against Tennessee (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP).
Santonio Beard ran for two touchdowns, and the 19th-ranked Tide
took advantage of six turnovers to beat the 16th-ranked Volunteers
34-14 Saturday night.
Alabama (6-2, 3-1 SEC), banned from postseason play because of
NCAA probation, hadn't beaten Tennessee (4-3, 1-3) since 1994, when
former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning was a freshman. It was
the Vols' worst home loss since a 31-0 defeat to Florida that same
"This is great for the seniors, because they always talk about
winning the next time or the next year. And in our last chance, we
pulled it out,'' said Alabama defensive end Kindal Moorehead, a
All Alabama needed was its strong running game, led by Beard and
Shaud Williams. Of course, the Vols helped immensely with their
Not even the return of quarterback Casey Clausen, who missed the
last game with a shoulder injury, could help Tennessee. Clausen was
hurt Oct. 5 against Arkansas and returned to practice this week.
"Casey played his rear off. There were a lot of guys who played
hard, but we're not disciplined and not very functional'' on
offense, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said.
The Vols were held to 59 yards rushing and 222 total yards,
while Alabama ran for 172 yards and passed for 128.
"I told our team all week that they were better than Tennessee.
They needed to come in confident,'' Alabama coach Dennis Franchione
said. "They didn't need an out-of-body experience. They didn't
need to do anything extraordinary.''
Tennessee's struggles started early when Clausen fumbled a
lateral to Derrick Tinsley. Alabama's Gerald Dixon recovered it and
ran 66 yards down the sideline for a touchdown with 11:23 to go in
the first quarter.
The Tide never trailed.
Beard scored his first touchdown with 52 seconds left before
halftime, after Clausen's pass was intercepted by Charles Jones in
the end zone. Alabama capped an 80-yard drive with Beard's 10-yard
Beard, who led Alabama in rushing with 65 yards on 16 carries,
particularly enjoyed winning in his home state.
"This is for all the seniors that have been here four or five
years and have never beaten the University of Tennessee,'' he said.
"I'm from Nashville, but I've loved Alabama all my life. It feels
great to come back home and beat Tennessee.''
Clausen's second interception led to another Alabama score in
the third quarter. Waine Bacon tipped Clausen's pass, and Ahmad
Childress returned it 24 yards to the Tennessee 40.
On the third play, Brodie Croyle was being tackled and appeared
to be down when he tossed the ball to Beard, who ran 18 yards to
the Tennessee 8.
Fulmer argued the call, but it held up. Still, Alabama settled
for Kyle Robinson's 27-yard field goal, and the Tide led just 17-7
with 8:42 left in the third quarter. Robinson added a 21-yarder at
the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Alabama got a break late in the third quarter when Tennessee's
Gibril Wilson was called for pass interference in the end zone,
giving the Tide the ball at the Tennessee 2. Alabama went ahead
24-7 on the next play when Tyler Watts kept the ball and ran into
the end zone.
Tennessee's offense seemed to get worse as the game went on,
while the defense kept the game close.
The Vols finally sustained a scoring drive in the third quarter
when Leonard Scott ran 13 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to
24-14 with 1:46 left. Despite two penalties, Clausen kept the drive
going with a 32-yard pass over the middle to Jonathan Wade.
Tennessee receiver Kelley Washington didn't play because of a
slight concussion he received at Georgia on Oct. 12, coach Phillip
Washington, who leads the Vols with 23 catches for 443 yards,
showed no apparent effects of the injury and practiced every day
since hitting his head on the turf when he was tackled.
Tennessee, which lost three of five fumbles in the first half,
was held scoreless until Mark Jones returned a kickoff 87 yards for
a touchdown with 39 seconds left before halftime.