Run and Shoot: Tide Finishes

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Tide Finishes

SHREVEPORT, La. — Alabama’s 30-24 victory over Colorado in Sunday’s Independence Bowl couldn’t have been scripted any better for the Crimson Tide.

The game exemplified Alabama’s season, right down to the very end. A fast start, followed by an inconsistent and murky middle and finally a solid finish that prevented the Tide from having its first back-to-back losing seasons since the mid 1950s.

The Crimson Tide finished its season at 7-6, sent its seniors out on a winning note and built positive momentum for the off-season. The win snapped the Crimson Tide’s four-game losing streak.

On a third-and-seven play with fewer than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Buffaloes flushed quarterback John Parker Wilson out of the pocket. He then rushed left, found and opening and dove for the first down on a 10-yard gain.

The play essentially ended the hopes for Colorado (6-7), which got the ball back with one second remaining, lateraled its way to midfield and saw it season finish at its own 45.

After Buffaloes wide receiver Cody Crawford was whistled down, the Alabama portion of the 47,043 fans at Independence Stadium sounded a little louder than expected when it punctuated its Rammer Jammer cheer with, "We just beat the hell out of you."

Alabama’s John Parker Wilson completed 19 of 32 passes for 256 yards and the trio of touchdowns, earning him the bowl’s offensive MVP award. Tide defensive end Wallace Gilberry picked up the game’s defensive MVP with eight tackles — five of which were for losses — and one sack.

The Crimson Tide got off to a quick start, by scoring 27 unanswered points in the first half.

First, it got two field goals by kicker Leigh Tiffin — the first a 41-yarder and the second a 24-yarder. Decatur native Rolando McClain set up the second field goal when he intercepted Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins on the Buffaloes’ first play from scrimmage.

Then Wilson went to work on Colorado’s defense, throwing for three touchdowns in the first half.

On the first touchdown, Tide wide receiver Keith Brown split two defenders over the middle and Wilson found him in the end zone for a 15-yard strike. One possession later, Wilson hit Matt Caddell on a similar play for a 34-yard touchdown.

Then to put the cap on the half, Wilson nailed Nikita Stover for a 31-yard touchdown over the middle with 12:20 left in the second quarter, giving the Tide a 27-0 lead.

Before halftime, Colorado gained some momentum back in a hurry.

The Buffaloes scored 14 points in 2:05, the first on a touchdown pass from Hawkins to Tyson DeVree. Then Hawkins hit Dusty Sprague on a 25-yard pass over the head of cornerback Kareem Jackson to put the score at 27-14 with four seconds remaining.

The Buffaloes continued their slow match back on Alabama with a Kevin Eberhart’s 39-yard field goal to make the score 27-17.

Late in the fourth quarter, Tide cornerback Simeon Castille intercepted Hawkins which set up a 26-yard field goal by Tiffin to put the score at 30-17.

But the Buffaloes weren’t finished. Hawkins hit DeVree for a 27-yard reception to the Alabama 42-yard line.
Then Hawkins nailed Patrick Williams for 28 yards down to the Alabama 14-yard line. Two plays later, Hawkins hit DeVree over the middle. DeVree was hit short of the goal line, then bulled his way over to put the score at 30-24 at 3:35 remaining.

When the Crimson Tide got the ball back, it churned out two first downs to keep Colorado from getting the ball back until that last play.

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