Foster Tackle Energized Tide For Overtime

In the final minute and 13 seconds of Alabama’s game at LSU last Saturday night, there were 28 plays through the overtime that gave Bama a 20-13 victory. Only one of those did not figure directly into the outcome…and that one play may have had a major effect on the outcome.

The first play of those final 28 was Alabama tailback T.J. Yeldon fumbling the ball and LSU recovring it at the Tide 6-yard line. The last of those plays was an LSU pass into the end zone, batted away by Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones.

In between there was LSU’s work to get a field goal and a 13-10 lead on Bama with 50 seconds to play; the Tide’s drive to an Adam Griffith field goal that tied the game with seconds to play; and the overtime with Bama getting first shot and Blake Sims connecting with DeAndrew White on a winning six-yard touchdown pass.

So what was the one play that didn’t involve a scoring opportunity?

With three seconds to play in regulation, Alabama had to kick off to LSU. The Tigers put their outstanding freshman tailback Leonard Fournette deep to receive and he took the ball at the six. Fourteen yards later he was introduced to Bama sophomore linebacker Reuben Foster.

Foster has been a terror in kickoff coverage this year, but perhaps no collision was more emphatic than the one that took the 6-1, 224-pound Fournette off his feet and onto his back. Foster, 6-1, 244, was celebrated by his teammates and there was an obvious effect on the emotional level on both sidelines.

Alabama was energized, LSU was deflated.

It's also interesting that in overtime LSU did not give the ball to Fournette, who had been very effective running against Bama, 21 carries for 79 yards and no carries for lost yardage.

To be sure, not all of that is attributable to the Foster tackle. After all, Bama had just driven to a tying field goal after LSU had taken the lead with only 50 seconds to play. Victory was so sure that the public address announcer had begn making preparations for an unlikely prevention of LSU partisans storming the field in Tiger Stadium.

But the buzz of the tackle was apparent.

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, who has been a part of many hard hits this year, took notice of the Foster hit.

“Whooo! I’ve seen Reuben do it so much, it’s like second nature to him,” Ragland said. “It’s like Whooo. I think Reuben is a harder hitter than I am. Every time you see him hit, he just makes everything explode and fall. Yeah, that hit, baby. Whooo!”

Wait! Reuben Foster is a harder hitter than Reggie Ragland?

“Yeah,” said Ragland. “Reuben’s a harder hitter. I think so.

“It gave us momentum. He came down and made the hit, and you saw the reaction on the sideline, everyone get energy, everyone get joyful, everyone jumping around, like, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ll get them in overtime.’ And we came out and made some big plays.”

Foster was selected by Alabama coaches as one of the players of the week on special teams.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “Everybody's energy level got elevated. The importance of every play beyond that field goal was significant in the game. That hit, great hit, really energized our team even more. I think we took that positive energy into the overtime period. Probably, one of the reasons we were able to have success in the overtime and win the game.”

Tide quarterback Blake Sims said, “I think going into the overtime we had the momentum, because with Reuben making that last tackle at the end of the fourth quarter, I think that let us know, 'Hey it's our time. And we've got to take advantage of it.'”

Bama offensive lineman Austin Shepherd said, “I told him (Foster) I think that’s why we won, for real. I feel like that really was the reason because it brought energy. We really didn’t have energy all game. I feel like that’s what brought the energy and we kind of finished the game with that.”

Now Alabama has to put that game behind. This week the Crimson Tide hosts undefeated and number one ranked Mississippi State at 2:30 p.m. CST in Bryant-Denny Stadium.


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