Alabama 30, Colorado 24
By Kelly Kissel - AP Writer
December 31, 2007
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- Alabama found enough offense Sunday night to
win the Independence Bowl, but stumbled so much that even its star
quarterback acknowledges the Crimson Tide isn't rolling just yet.
Matt Cadell dodges Colorado defenders during the 2007 PetroSun
Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2007
"We had some ups and downs tonight but we kept our composure," said
John Parker Wilson, named the game's most valuable offensive player
after the Tide's 30-24 victory over Colorado. "This team has a long
way to go, but with everything we built this year, I'm really
Alabama (7-6) stopped a four-game losing streak and avoided
consecutive losing seasons for the first time in 50 years. Colorado
(6-7) finished below .500 for the second straight year, but was
vastly improved from a 2-10 mark in 2006.
Wilson completed 13 of his first 15 passes for 185 yards and three
touchdowns and Alabama raced to a four-touchdown lead. Colorado
couldn't complete a comeback, when its attempt at a multi-lateral
play as time expired collapsed shy of midfield.
"We got off to a great start, which means we were well-prepared,"
said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "We made some mistakes in the game
and let them come back. We took the challenge and actually competed
and showed some great competitive character."
The Crimson Tide had averaged 35 points in its first nine games, but
only 12 points per game in the last three. Alabama entered Sunday's
game having lost four in a row, including an embarrassing outing at
home against Louisiana-Monroe.
"This is what I am so happy and pleased about: the way this team
bounced back and played in this game," Saban said.
With the Tide up 27-0, Wilson was in firm control until being chased
into an intentional grounding penalty with 5 minutes left in the
first half. He threw an interception on his next attempt, leading to
a Colorado score, and didn't complete another throw in the half.
Buffaloes quarterback Cody Hawkins, meanwhile, recovered from an
interception on their first offensive play and finished the half
9-of-10 for 87 yards and two scores.
"I am very proud of our guys. They could have folded the tent, but
they fought back and showed incredible resolve," said Colorado coach
Dan Hawkins, the quarterback's father.
Hawkins' 25-yard pass to Dusty Sprague with 4 seconds left in the
half cut Alabama's lead to 27-14. It came less than 2 minutes after
Hawkins hit Tyson DeVree with a 4-yard scoring pass. Kevin Eberhart's
39-yard field goal in the third period cut it to 27-17.
"We gave it all we had, but we just ran out of time," DeVree said.
Alabama amassed 170 yards in the first quarter and had 285 by
halftime, but added only 103 yards in the second half. Wilson had
scoring passes of 15 yards to Keith Brown, 34 yards to Matt Caddell
and 31 yards to Nikita Stover.
"It all started with our preparation this week. With what happened
to us the last four games, it really showed a lot of maturity on our
part to finish it up the way we did," Wilson said.
With Leigh Tiffin's two field goals, Alabama led 27-0 early in the
second quarter. The Buffaloes, who scored 65 points against Nebraska
in their previous game, had a first down on their second play from
scrimmage but didn't pick up another until 10 1/2 minutes before
Once Colorado rattled Wilson, though, the fortunes turned. Hawkins
was 8-of-8 on the last two drives of the half, while Wilson was
6-of-17 after his hot start and finished the game 19-of-32 for
"I do not know the answer to why we started like that," Colorado
offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus said. "Bowl games are just funny
In the second half, having learned they couldn't beat Alabama's
linebackers to the corner, Colorado running backs spread out the
Tide defense and cut back against the grain to pick up 5 or 6 yards
at a time.
Alabama's new attention to the run opened up routes for Buffaloes
receivers. Scotty McKnight, Josh Smith and DeVree caught passes of
11, 22 and 13 yards for key first downs as Colorado drove for a
failed 48-yard field goal try on its first drive after halftime.
The big plays helped limit the Tide to six plays in the third quarter.
Hawkins rallied the Buffaloes to 30-24 with a 14-yard pass to DeVree
with 3:51 left, following Tiffin's 26-yard field goal. In the second
half, Hawkins had 224 yards passing and finished the game 24-of-40
for 322 yards and three touchdowns.
In the third quarter alone, Colorado had nine plays that gained 10
yards or more.
Colorado, which had only six turnovers in its six victories this
year, gave up the ball twice on interceptions and once on a failed
Tiffin's first-quarter field goals gave him 105 points for the
season, the most for an Alabama kicker. Tiffin added three extra
points and the fourth-quarter field goal, giving him 111 points for
The Independence Bowl is sponsored by PetroSun.