No. 6 Alabama 24, No. 13 Ohio State 17
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Sherman Williams was about the only bright spot in a Citrus Bowl that neither team appeared to be trying to win. It was only appropriate that he turned in the biggest play of the game.
Williams came out of the backfield to grab a short pass and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining, giving sixth-ranked Alabama a 24-17 victory over No. 13 Ohio State on Monday.
The senior tailback 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. He ran 27 times for 166 yards, caught eight passes for 155 yards and returned two kickoffs for 38 yards to finish with 359 total yards.
Williams 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. His team also missed a chance to possibly finish in the Top 10 for the first time since 1986.
Except for Williams and Ohio State receiver Joey Galloway, who had eight catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, the game was a comedy of errors that dragged on for an interminable three hours, 48 minutes.
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.
The best play of the day was turned in by a brown dog who got loose on the field in the first quarter and dodged his would-be tacklers for about five minutes. Finally, the animal was chased out a ramp by security officers, but he never went down.
The others on the field weren’t so lucky; the game was about as hard on the body as it was on the eyes. Numerous players were hobbled by injuries, and Alabama’s Shannon Brown and Jon Causey were knocked out with a concussion and dislocated left knee, respectively.
It was tied at 14 when Proctor hooked his short field-goal attempt on the second play of the fourth quarter. Ohio State then went ahead on Josh Jackson’s 34-yard kick with 8:41 left.
The Tide drove back down the field to again set up Proctor, who connected from 27 yards out.
Ohio State couldn’t move the ball and Alabama got it back at its own 37 with 1:15 to go.
Jay Barker, who finished as the Tide’s all-time winningest quarterback with a 35-2-1 record as the starter, completed a 13-yard pass to Toderick Malone at midfield. Then it was time for Williams to shine one more time. He caught a short toss across the middle and weaved his way down the field with his shifty, zigzagging style.
The long pass also helped Barker end his career on a high note. He completed 18 of 37 passes for 317 yards.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the first half. Bobby Hoying connected twice with Galloway, who caught a 69-yard scoring pass in addition to his catch after Ohio State blocked a Bryne Diehl punt.
Alabama scored on Williams’ 7-yard run and Tarrant Lynch’s 9-yard scamper.