WAC & UH OPPONENTS
Croom glad to beat ’Bama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. » Sylvester Croom only wished his father was still around to be part of such a joyous homecoming.
"He'd have that big ol' smile on his face," the Mississippi State coach said of the late Rev. Sylvester Croom Sr. "I know he's smiling anyway."
Michael Henig passed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and Mississippi State beat Alabama 24-16 yesterday to give Coach Croom his first victory over his alma mater.
"I feel so thankful. I feel blessed, having grown up in this town, having played at the University of Alabama and having coached the Mississippi State football team to this win," said Croom, the SEC's first black head football coach.
Croom played at Alabama for coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in the early 1970s. He interviewed for the Alabama head coaching job in 2003, but the Tide hired current coach Mike Shula instead. Later that year, Croom was hired by Mississippi State, but he's had few highlights since. He is now 9-23, but win No. 9 might have been his most satisfying.
Anthony Dixon ran for 121 yards for the Bulldogs, who snapped a 23-game Southeastern Conference road losing streak and an 18-game skid against Western division rivals.
San Jose St. 31, New Mexico St. 21
LAS CRUCES, N.M. » Yonus Davis rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown and Jeff Clark returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in the Spartans' win over the Aggies.
San Jose State (6-2, 3-1 WAC) trailed 21-18 when Spartan Patrick Perry broke through to block Aggie punter Jared Kaufman's kick with 12:57 left in the game. Clark picked up the ball at the 2-yard line and scored easily.
Oregon State 44, Arizona State 10
CORVALLIS, Ore. » Yvenson Bernard rushed for two touchdowns, Matt Moore accounted for two scores and the Beavers beat the Sun Devils.
The Beavers scored on their first five possessions and showed no signs of any letdown coming off their upset win over Southern Cal.
Nevada 45, Idaho 7
MOSCOW, Idaho » Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe threw for 162 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another score to lead the Wolf Pack (6-3, 3-2 WAC) over the Vandals (4-6, 3-3).
Kamehameha graduate Caleb Spencer reeled in five catches for 73 yards and a TD for Nevada.
TCU 25, UNLV 10
LAS VEGAS » Quarterback Jeff Ballard threw for 195 yards and ran for 84 to lead the Horned Frogs over the Rebels.
Ballard was 15-for-28 with a touchdown pass to Michael DePriest from 34 yards.
E. Illinois 29, Tennessee St. 3
CHARLESTON, Ill. » Running back Vincent Webb scored three TDs as the Panthers' defense clamped down on the Tigers.
Webb carried 22 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns, and caught six passes for 46 yards and another score.
Louisiana Tech 34, North Texas 31
DENTON, Texas » Zac Champion threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs past the Mean Green.
Danny Horwedel's second field goal of the game, a 24-yarder with 9:32 to play, was the game-winner. Shalamar Walker intercepted Daniel Meager's pass at the Bulldogs' 40 with 59 seconds left to end North Texas' final threat.
Purdue 17, Michigan St. 15
EAST LANSING, Mich. » Curtis Painter threw two touchdown passes and Casey Welch kicked an 18-yard field goal with 4:49 left to lead the Boilermakers past the Spartans.
Painter was 21-for-30 for 286 yards and connected for two TD passes to Dorien Bryant, who had seven receptions for 96 yards for Purdue.
Kaheaku-Enhada helps Navy clinch bowl bid
DURHAM, N.C. » After two straight losses, Navy coach Paul Johnson gave his nicked-up team a lighter week of practice to help the Midshipmen to regroup.
He can't argue with the bowl-clinching results.
Kapolei alumnus Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada ran for 119 yards and a touchdown and threw for a score yesterday to lead Navy to a 38-13 victory over Duke, clinching a fourth straight bowl appearance for the first time in program history.
Adam Ballard added 103 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Midshipmen (6-3), who secured a berth in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent on Dec. 30 in Charlotte.
Navy had no trouble ending its losing skid or finding plenty of running room against the winless Blue Devils (0-9). Navy ran for 435 yards, threw just five passes and didn't punt all day -- a strong overall performance that seemed to validate Johnson's decision to cut down on physical contact leading up to the game.
"We knew he expected us to come out with fresh legs and really hit somebody," Ballard said. "We kind of took that as, 'If he's going to give us a break and we don't come out, then we're going to put the armor back on and start knocking each other's heads off.' "
The Midshipmen had lost consecutive games to Rutgers and Notre Dame, and lost senior quarterback Brian Hampton to a season-ending knee injury against the Scarlet Knights on Oct. 14. Kaheaku-Enhada made his first career start last week, running for a pair of scores in the 38-14 loss to the Fighting Irish.
He had a much easier time against the Blue Devils, directing the Midshipmen to touchdowns on their first three drives en route to a 24-6 halftime lead. Navy opened the second half with a long TD drive -- with Kaheaku-Enhada throwing a 19-yard score to Reggie Campbell -- that took the last bit of drama out of the game.