Sherman Williams could have sunk to the level of those around him, with all their fumbles, interceptions, blocked kicks, penalties and shanked field goals. Instead, he turned in one of Alabama’s great bowl performances.
The senior tailback appeared to be everywhere in the Citrus Bowl: running 27 times for 166 yards, catching eight passes for 155 yards, returning two kicks for 38 yards.
And he saved his best for last, grabbing a short pass over the middle and turning it into a 50-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left to give the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide a 24-17 victory over No. 13 Ohio State on Monday.
“I worked hard and did a lot of things over the summer to prepare myself for this moment right here,” said Williams, who also scored on a 7-yard run late in the first quarter and finished with 359 total yards. “All the dedication that I put into the season paid off for me.”
Williams became the first player in the history of the Crimson Tide (12-1) to have more than 100 yards rushing and receiving in a bowl game, and also wound up as part of the winningest class in Alabama history. The seniors ended their careers with a 45-4-1 record and one national championship, eclipsing the 44-4 mark turned in by the 1977-80 Tide teams.
Ohio State (9-4) continued to flounder in the postseason under coach John Cooper, whose bowl record fell to 1-5 with the Buckeyes.
Except for Williams and Joey Galloway, who had eight catches for 146 yards and both Ohio State touchdowns, the game was a comedy of errors that dragged on for an interminable 3 hours, 48 minutes.
“It was one of those games where the team that made the last mistake lost the game,” said Ohio State quarterback Bobby Hoying, who threw for 180 yards but was sacked five times.
There were two blocked punts and one blocked field goal. There were three turnovers within 14 seconds. Alabama’s Michael Proctor missed a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Ohio State literally gave the Tide one touchdown with two penalties on one drive, including too many men on the field. Even the referees got in the act, failing to see that Galloway’s foot appeared to be out of the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
“Maybe those are the type of things that happen when you haven’t played in six weeks,” said Cooper, whose team was outgained 521 yards to 276.
Besides Williams, the best performance was turned in by a brown dog that got loose on the field in the first quarter and dodged his wouldbe tacklers for 5 minutes. Finally, the animal was chased out a ramp by security officers, but he never went down.
“We had momentum and I wanted to get him off the field,” said Stallings, who tried without success to sweet-talk the dog his way. “I wish I’d have had a net. I don’t know what I would have done if I had caught him.”
Alabama 24, Ohio St. 17
Alabama 0 14 0 10 - 24 Ohio St. 0 14 0 3 - 17
Ala-Lynch 9 run (Proctor kick) OSUGalloway 69 pass from Hoying (Jackson kick) OSUGalloway 11 pass from Hoying (Jackson kick)
Ala-Williams 7 run (Proctor kick) OSUFG Jackson 34
Ala-FG Proctor 27
Ala-Williams 50 pass from Barker (Proctor kick)
Ala OSU First downs 28 15 Rushes-yards 51-204 32-96 Passing 317 180 Return Yards 7 19 Comp-Att-Int 18-37-0 11-27-1 Punts 4-24 7-36 Fumbles-Lost 3-3 4-1 Penalties-Yards 4-45 6-43 Time of Possession 32:38 27:22
RUSHINGAlabama, Williams 27-166, Lynch 13-35, Riddle 7-7, Barker 3-(minus 2), Key 1-(minus 2). Ohio State, George 15-89, Sualua 6-44, Hoying 11-(minus 37).
PASSINGAlabama, Barker 18-37-0-317. Ohio State, Hoying 11-27-1-180.
RECEIVINGAlabama, Williams 8-155, C.Brown 4-63, Malone 3-70, West 1-20, Lynch 1-7, Johnson 1-2. Ohio State, Galloway 8-146, Dudley 2-26, Pearson 1-8.
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