LSU pounds Tide with passing attack

Alabama almost certainly took itself out of any chance for a successful football season Saturday with perhaps the most miserable defensive performance in Crimson Tide history. Alabama lost its fourth straight Southeastern Conference game as LSU rolled to a 35-21 decision that was not as close as the final score.

The loss in Bryant-Denny Stadium left Alabama with a 3-5 overall record and 2-4 SEC mark. Alabama will now have to win the remainder of its games to be eligible for a minor bowl. Next up for Bama is Mississippi State in Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff will be shortly after 11:30 a.m. CST with regional television coverage by Jefferson Pilot. Bama will close out SEC play at Auburn November 17 and will host Southern Miss in Birmingham in the regular season finale on November 29.

Unlike Bama's three previous SEC losses, the Crimson Tide did not lose after having a fourth quarter lead against LSU. It was only by a series of miscues that Bama was even in the game going to the fourth quarter. Indeed, just a few seconds before the start of the fourth quarter the game was actually tied at 21-21. However, even though LSU faced third down and long yardage, the Tigers did not have a difficult time. Rohan Davey, LSU's talented quarterback, avoided the Alabama rush, found Josh Reed open in the secondary, and hit him on a 25-yard touchdown play with four seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Davey to Reed combination was a familiar one. Working against what has been a very poor Alabama pass defense all year, the two combined for a couple of SEC records as LSU had an all-time game passing. Davey completed 35 of 44 passes for 528 yards (the most completions and yardage ever given up by an Alabama team) and two touchdowns. He was sacked only one time and had one interception, an unusual pick by defensive lineman Kenny King as LSU approached the Alabama end zone. Alabama has only four interceptions this year and two of them are by defensive linemen. Reed had 19 receptions for 293 yards and one touchdown. Both marks by Reed are SEC records.

LSU piled up 30 first downs against Alabama's defense, while Bama managed 18. Twenty-three of those LSU first downs came on passes. The Tigers had 30 rushes for 83 yards. Bama had 39 rushes for 174 yards and completed 15 of 28 passes for 209 yards. In total offense, LSU had 74 plays for 611 yards, an average of 8.3 yards per play. Alabama had 67 plays for 383 yards, an average of 5.7 yards per play. LSU successfully converted eight of 13 third down opportunities.

LSU met almost no resistance from Alabama's defense from the beginning. The Tigers had two long drives for touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead. Alabama responded with a long drive, but was unable to punch in a touchdown, settling for a Neal Thomas field goal. Just before halftime LSU fumbled a punt that was recovered by Kenny King and set up a Tyler Watts touchdown pass to tight end Terry Jones to make it 14-10 at intermission.

However, there was an omen of things to come. At halftime LSU already had 16 first downs and 290 yards of offense. And for Alabama, it got worse as the Tigers opened the second half with an easy six-play, 80-yard drive to take a 21-10 lead. Bama had another good drive, but again the Tide stalled and had to settle for a field goal.

Fate stepped in for Bama again. With LSU facing third 13 Davey found Reed behind the Alabama coverage and hit him on a long pass. However, safety Waine Bacon forced a fumble into the end zone, which Hirchel Bolden recovered for a touchback. From there Watts had an excellent series, taking the Tide 80 yards in six plays. Watts rushed it in from 22 yards out for the touchdown, then passed to Antonio Carter for a conversion that tied the score at 21-21.

However, LSU had no trouble retaking the lead with a 10-play, 80-yard drive.

Early in the fourth quarter Alabama had a tough decision to make. It was fourth and five and the Tide trailed by a touchdown. Bama elected to punt the ball to LSU, and the Tigers took that opportunity to go 74 yards in nine plays for a final touchdown with only seven minutes to play.

Alabama gave Andrew Zow a couple of chances at quarterback in the final seven minutes, but the Tide was unable to generate any offense. LSU was content to run out the clock.

Watts was most of the Alabama offense. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He was also Bama's leading rusher with 21 carries for 86 yards. Freddie Milons had five receptions for 91 yards, Antonio Carter four catches for 60 yards.

Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione said, "They were pretty good today. Their quarterback and wide receiver played very well. Obviously, on defense we struggled."

The Tide coach said that Alabama did some good things, and moved the ball at times, but added "We're not good enough yet offensively to get into a scoring battle."

The win by LSU marked the first time since 1969-70 that LSU had beaten Alabama in consecutive seasons.

In other news regarding the Alabama football program, it was announced that former Alabama assistant coaches Ivy Williams and Ronnie Cottrell, who had been charged with unethical conduct in an investigation by the NCAA, have had allegations against them withdrawn.

Alabama's representatives met with members of the NCAA Enforcement Staff earlier this week and attorneys for Williams and Cottrell also had meetings with that staff. Alabama's October 30 meeting was in preparation for The University's November 17 hearing before the Infractions Committee. There was no notice of how Alabama will respond to the remaining 14 allegations (nine of them considered major). The Enforcement Staff will prepare a Case Summary for submission to the Infractions Committee. This document will describe the remaining allegations and will summarize the parties' responses to them.

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