For the longest time, it looked as though Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts might be having that dreaded Freshman Moment. Instead, he continued his Freshman Mastery, leading Alabama to a 10-0 win over LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday night.
The No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide was scoreless until the fourth quarter when Hurts ran for one touchdown and set up a short field goal for the victory over No. 13 LSU.
Alabama improved to 9-0, including 6-0 in Southeastern Conference games. LSU fell to 5-3 overall, 3-1 in the conference.
While Hurts was the hero of Alabama’s fourth quarter, a major share of credit goes to the Alabama defense. At halftime, LSU had 5 first downs. The Tigers would get just one more in the game, a total of 6. After two quarters, LSU had 20 rushes for 36 yards. Final rushing: 27 carries for 33 yards. At the half, the Tigers had completed 7-13 passes for 64 yards, and at the end had 11-24 for 92 yards.
LSU’s total offense at halftime was 33 plays for 100 yards. In the Tigers 18 second half plays, they added 25 yards.
LSU’s offense had the ball for fewer than 8 of the final 30 minutes of play.
And just because everyone is wondering, Leonard Fournette – who set an all-time LSU rushing record of 284 yards in the Tigers last outing against Ole Miss – was held to 35 yards on 17 carries Saturday. After being held to 31 on 19 runs against Bama last year, his two-year total against the Tide was 36 carries, 66 yards.
The trip to Baton Rouge was Alabama’s final road game of the regular season. The Crimson Tide will be back in SEC action next Saturday hosting Mississippi State at 11 a.m. CST. ESPN ewill televise the game.
After a first half in which the Tide had poor field position, Bama was able to get good starting position in the third quarter, but couldn’t convert into points. The worst came on Alabama’s first possession of the second quarter when Hurts completed a 52-yard pass to ArDarius Stewart for a first-and-goal at the LSU 8.
Hurts gained 7 of the eight yards, but on a fourth down try from the 1 he was caught for a loss of 5 and the ball went over the LSU.
In fact, things looked dire when Hurts – trying to evade a collapsing pocket – fumbled at the Alabama 46 and LSU recovered. But with the help of an intentional grounding call, the Tide forced a punt.
That put Bama back on its 10 and the drive started poorly with a 5-yard loss. But on second down a well-designed play got freshman tight end Miller Forristall into the open and Hurts completed a 22-yard pass to get the Tide out from its goalline.
The drive was jeopardized again by an ineligible receiver penalty, but Hurts got back the yardage with a nice run and when he was hit out of bounds Bama had a first down near midfield.
Hurts ran for a first down, and the next three plays gained 9 yards. And the third quarter came to an end with Alabama facing fourth-and-1 at the LSU 32. It was like Little Eva had been left tied to the railroad tracks by the old movie villain.
After the suspense, Bo Scarbrough ran for 10 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter and the Alabama march continued. Facing third-and-9 at the LSU 21, Hurts started right on what looked like a run-pass option in which the freshman had no plan to do anything but run, then cut back up the middle. He was touched a time or two, but never in danger of not making it to the end zone.
The 90-yard drive in 12 plays had taken just under 6 minutes and – after Adam Griffith’s extra point kick – gave Bama a 7-0 lead with just over 13 minutes to play.
LSU did not respond well to the pressure, On second down after the kickoff, Tigers quarterback Danny Etling’s pass was tipped by Ryan Anderson and intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick at the Alabama 42.
Time left in the game was 12:32. The Tide would keep the ball for 9:51 on 15 plays. Although it was disappointing that Alabama did not get a touchdown, the time taken off the clock coupled with Griffith’s eventual 25-yard field goal esstentially salted the game away.
Bama had a 10-0 lead with only two-and-a-half-minutes left in Tiger Stadium.
Hurts had four runs for first downs in the drive, including one of 23 on a third-and-15 and one of 11 on a third-and-9 that set up a goal-to-go at the 5. Unfortunately, three downs and a penalty made it fourth down from the seven, necessitating Griffith’s field goal.
LSU was incomplete on four passes and the last two plays of the game were Hurts taking a knee in the victory formation.
The first half was a heavyweight fight -- powerful punches and counterpunches, but no knockdowns.
Alabama’s first possession ended in a Hurts pass being intercepted at the Alabama 33. But three plays gained only a yard, and a 49-yard field goal try by Colby Delahoussaye was blocked by Bama safety Ronnie Harrison.
In the second quarter, Alabama drove from its 9 to the LSU 24 with big plays – a 28 –yard run by Hurts, an 11-yard run by Bo Scarbrough, and a 21-yard Hurts to Calvin Ridley pass. And then the Tide had three incomplete passes, followed by a missed 42-yard field goal by Adam Griffith.
For the first time since the Florida State game in Jacksonville in 2007, Nick Saban’s first year as head coach, Alabama failed to score in the first half.
Both teams had only 5 first downs. Bama had 30 plays for 120 yards, LSU 33 plays for 100.
In the third quarter, LSU would not make a first down and would have total offense of 12 plays for 10 yards, but the score was still 0-0, though Bama was in the middle of a touchdown drive.
Alabama finished the game with 16 first downs and 51 rushes for 216 yards. Hurts was 10-19 passing for 107 yards with one interception. He was sacked once. LSU’s Danny Etling completed 11-24 for 92 yards with one interception and he was sacked five times.
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The Tide had total offense of 70 plays for 323 yards, 4.6 per play, LSU 51 plays for 125. Alabama was good on 7-17 third down conversions, the Tigers 4-15.
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