Flat Bama Beaten On Bayou
Alabama fell to LSU, 24-21, in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge Saturday, effectively ending any Crimson Tide chance at a repeat of the national championship.
Bama gave up over 300 yards and 21 points to LSU in the second half in losing for the second time this year in Southeastern Conference play. Bama fell to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in SEC games. LSU improved to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the league.
Alabama continues in SEC play and returns to Tuscaloosa next Saturday. The Crimson Tide will host Mississippi State at 6:15 p.m. CST in Bryant-Denny Stadium with television coverage by ESPN. As most SEC teams that play Alabama, Mississippi State had a bye this week.
LSU came from behind at 14-13 to go ahead 24-14 before Bama scored a late touchdown to narrow the gap. The Tigers had a big third down pass in the final minutes that denied Bama any realistic chance at pulling out the win.
After Alabama led 7-3 at halftime, the Tigers had a lightning-quick touchdown to go ahead 10-7. Bama then worked it back to a 14-10 lead going to the fourth quarter.
The Tigers took the lead on an impressive 11-play, 77-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Stevan Ridley had back-to-back rushes of 18 and 19 yards. From the Bama 26 on a fourth-and-one, the Tigers went for the first down and got a lot more, a 23-yard run by Deangelo Peterson on an tight end-around. From first and goal at the three, Ridley got it in on the third try. LSU went for the two-point conversion, a Jordan Jefferson toss to Rueben Randle to make it a seven-point advantage at 21-14.
Moments later, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was sacked and lost the ball at the Alabama 28. Three plays later Josh Jasper kicked what would prove to be the winning points when he nailed a 39-yard field goal.
Alabama was able to drive for one touchdown in the final minutes, but couldn't get the ball back with enough time to have a chance to tie or win.
LSU took a 3-0 lead with just over five minutes gone in the first quarter. Alabama and the Fighting Tigers had exchanged punts and the Tide was deep in its territory. On a third-and-eight from the Bama 22, Greg McElroy's pass for Preston Dial was tipped by Tyrann Mathieu and intercepted by Kelvin Shepherd at the Alabama 35.
Alabama's first quarter defense was outstanding (holding the Tigers to 11 plays for 23 yards) and after three downs LSU faced fourth-and-two. Josh Jasper kicked a 45-yard field goal to give LSU a 3-0 lead with 9:23 to play.
Alabama had poor field position throughout the first quarter, including a poor LSU punt that went out of bounds at the Bama 19 with 4:10 to play in the first period. The Tide turned that into an 11-play, 89-yard touchdown drive, a drive that ended with near frustration.
McElroy got the march started with a second down pass for 16 yards to Dial. After Mark Ingram had a couple of runs for a first down, McElroy found Julio Jones for a 19-yard completion to the LSU 32. The play came with less than a minute remaining in the fist quarter and marked the first time Alabama had crossed midfield.
McElroy hit Julio for another nine-yard gain as the first quarter ended. On the first play of the second quarter, Trent Richardson went off left tackle, broke a handful of LSU tackles, and raced to the LSU one-yard line.
LSU used a no-huddle offense part of the game. Alabama also had a new look, a tight formation at the goalline. Of course, by all Bama players being in close, so were all LSU defenders and two Richardson runs gained nothing. On third down, from the same formation, McElroy passed to Richardson, who barely got the ball across the goalline. After Jeremy Shelley's extra point, Bama had a 7-3 lead with 12:55 to play in the first half. The drive had taken 6:15.
Alabama seemed on the verge of making something happen when the Tide started a drive from its 26 with just over six minutes to play in the second quarter. McElroy connected with Darius Hanks on a pass that went for long yardage, but a holding penalty brought it back to the 16.
But Ingram ran for 13 yards and on third-and-six McElroy found Hanks for 18 and a first down near midfield. A 10-yard pass to Julio Jones had Bama back in LSU territory. But a sack and an incompletion ended any hopes for points.
Alabama freshman walk-on punter Cody Mandell, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, was having a nice day and punted the Tigers down at the LSU three with just 1:25 to play.
From there the Tigers were able to grind out 50 yards before halftime. That 50 was more than half of the LSU first half production. The Tigers had 29 plays for 95 yards in the first two quarters. Bama had 33 plays for 151 yards
It wouldn't take the Tigers long to nearly double their offensive output. After an Alabama punt to the LSU 7, it took the Tigers just two plays to go 93 yards and take the lead at 10-7.
Mandell had punted LSU back to its seven and Jordan Jefferson, the "running" quarterback, was in the game for the Tigers. On first down he completed an 18-yard pass to Terrence Tolliver. On the next play, Jefferson was under a rush, but through downfield to a wide open Reuben Randle who out-raced Bama defenders on a 75-yard touchdown play. Jasper kicked the Tigers into a 10-7 lead with 8:17 remaining in the third quarter.
The Alabama offense responded. Starting at its 27 following the kickoff, Bama went 73 yards in 10 plays, taking 5:39 to re-take the lead at 14-10. Ingram had two runs for a first down, and then McElroy hit Maze on what appeared to be a 389-yard gain. On review, the pass was ruled incomplete, but LSU had been guilty of pass interference. Back-to-back passes from McElroy to Julio Jones gained 17 yards and a pass to Maze got 12. Ingram then had a tackle-busting run for nine yards to the LSU 8.
Ingram picked up the first down at the five, and on first and goal took a quick pitch around left end for the touchdown.
The Tigers pulled to within a point with a quick drive that was keyed by a 41-yard end-around on a third-and-four play. The drive stalled at the 17 and Jasper kicked a 35-yard field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter to pull within a point at 14-13.
LSU got its fourth quarter touchdown drive started with a bit of luck. Mandell's punt hit a Tiger at the Alabama 23, but LSU recovered the ball and was able to make the key 11-play, 77-yard drive that gave the Tigers the lead for good.
McElroy was sacked as Bama hoped to mount a drive with just under eight minutes to play. That set up the winning points for LSU, a 39-yard Jasper field goal that made it 24-14.
The celebration had begun in Tiger Stadium with 5:27 to play when Alabama started from its 26. McElroy hit a 19-yard pass to Dial and a nine-yard pass to Haks before Ingram dashed for 12 yards and a first down at the LSU 34. McElroy hit Jones for nine, Maze for 11, and Brad Smelley for five before going to Jones in the end zone for the nine-yard touchdown. Smelley's PAT pulled Bama to within three points with over three minutes to play.
Bama had LSU nervous when Bama got the Tigers to third-and-13 at the LSU 20 and Jefferson Jordan on the sidelines with an injury. But Jarrett Lee hit Randle with a pass that gained 47 yards, and the Tide was beaten.
Alabama did get the ball back at its 14 yard line with 18 seconds to play. Two passes were incomplete, and then a try at trickery and deceit never had a chance. A pass to Jones and lateral to Hanks ran out of gas, out of room, and out of time.
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