No Shaun Alexander? No Andrew Zow? No problem for No. 14 Alabama.
Shaun Bohanon ran for two touchdowns, Reggie Myles returned one of his two interceptions for a score and Freddie Milons had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead the Crimson Tide to a 35-14 victory over No. 20 Southern Mississippi on Saturday.
It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Tide (6-2) over Southern Miss (5-3).
The concern all week was how Alabama would fare without Alexander, its tailback, and Zow, its quarterback, both out with sprained right ankles. Both were in uniform but weren't needed.
Alabama never had to worry about it after their backups set an early tone.
"Football is a game of guys getting hurt," Alabama coach Mike DuBose said. " When one player goes down, another one steps up. We did a super job of doing that today and understanding the team concept."
To Southern Miss, Alexander and Zow weren't the right guys out of the game.
" Just because those two guys were out, that doesn't mean anything with the offensive line they've got," cornerback Terrance Parrish said. "Anybody can move the ball behind that line."
Alabama proved that on its first possession.
Using a mix of Bohanon runs and a 26-yard pass from Tyler Watts to Dustin McClintock, Alabama took a 7-0 lead on Bohanon's 5-yard run.
"I felt like I got a lot of confidence after scoring on the first drive," Watts said. "From there I felt like I just had to do my job and the rest of the guys would do their jobs."
Bohanon and Watts did their best work of the day on a short scoring drive in the third quarter that broke open the game.
Myles' second interception gave Alabama the ball at the Eagles 4 and the chance to extend on it 20-7 lead.
A running play for a loss and a 10-yard sack backed up Alabama to the 15. On third-and-15, Watts avoided the blitz and scrambled up the middle to the 1.
Bohanon barreled into the end zone on fourth down. Watts' 2-point conversion pass to Milons made it 28-7.
"I bruised my ribs there," Bohanon said. "But I love playing so much that I didn't say anything because I didn't want to come out."
The Tide forced Southern Miss to punt on its next possession. Milons caught the ball, shed tackles along the left sideline and cut across the middle of the field for a 65-yard touchdown.
"After the first couple of twists and turns, I was just trying to find daylight," Milons said. "I saw a couple of creases and just ran."
The return was Alabama's first for a touchdown since David Palmer in 1992.
Bohanon, a junior, finished with 104 yards on 28 carries. His previous best was 98 yards earlier this year in mop-up duty.
Watts, who was expected to challenge Zow for the starting job this year, was 11-of-20 for 128 yards and an interception. In limited action in five previous games, Watts had just 89 yards.
"I felt like Bo and Tyler have been waiting for an opportunity," DuBose said. "Today they got an opportunity and made the most of it. You have to be ready to step up in these situations. That's what being a football team is about."
Alabama led 20-7 at halftime, aided by Ryan Pflugner's two field goals and Myles' 41-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was only Alabama's third interception of the season, and the first returned for a touchdown in 29 games.
Alabama's defense held Southern Miss to minus-13 yards rushing and sacked quarterback Jeff Kelly seven times.
Kelly, who threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Sherrod Gideon in the second quarter, was benched in the fourth quarter. He finished 16-of-30 for 175 yards and two interceptions.
"Jeff needs to learn to make some better decisions," Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said. "He forced some things today and they came out bad."
His replacement, Cable Davis, led the Eagles on a two-play scoring drive on his first series. He threw a 25-yard TD pass to Dannye Fowler that cut the deficit to 35-14 with 7:11 to play.
"I really thought that at this stage of the season we would play better," Bower said. "We were a little bit out of sync early in the game and we never got into rhythm"
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