LSU Makes Plays To Beat Alabama (STATS)

In a frantic second half of the fourth quarter, LSU made enough clutch plays to overcome Alabama. The Fighting Tigers were particularly effective on defense and set up an unlikely winning touchdown by causing a fumble and recovering it at the Alabama three-yard line in the last minute and a half. LSU escaped Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 41-34 victory.

Final Stats:

With the win over Alabama, LSU improves to 8-1 overall and keeps alive its hopes for a national championship. The Tigers, ranked third in the nation, also are the clear favorite to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division title. LSU is now 5-1 in the league.

Alabama, ranked 17th in the nation going into the game, fell to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in SEC play.

Next week Alabama will be at Mississippi State for a game that kicks off shortly after 11:30 a.m. CST and will be televised in parts of the region on the SEC's Lincoln Financial network. The Bulldogs of Coach Sylvester Croom had an open date this week.

LSU got its winning touchdown -- a one-yard dive by Jacob Hester -- with 1:26 to play. The touchdown run was set up when Alabama's offense could not contain the LSU pass rush. Bama was attempting to use the 2:40 it had for a potential game-winning drive. But Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson was sacked on first down, had an incomplete pass on second down, and then was victimized by the critical turnover with 1:39 to play.

Wilson was hit by Chad Jones and the ball popped out and was recovered for the Tigers at the Alabama three by Curtis Taylor. Jones did not have a sack prior to Saturday and had two against Alabama.

It looked as though Alabama was going to upset LSU when Bama kick return specialist Javier Arenas took an LSU punt back 61 yards for a touchdown and a 34-27 Bama lead with 7:23 to play. Following the kickoff, the Alabama defense forced another LSU punt as Wallace Gilberry had a key sack.

Alabama was able to kill only a minute and a half as Bama was unable to get a first down. Alabama had to punt the ball back to the Tigers with 4:53 to play. LSU quarterback Matt Flynn did an excellent job of hitting short passes and moving the Tigers deep into Alabama territory. With 2:49 to play on a fourth-and-four, Flynn hit Early Doucet across the middle. Doucet broke one tackle and avoided all others to get to the end zone and tie the game at 34-34.

Following Alabama's gift to the Tigers for the 41-34 lead, Bama had 1:21 to play and had the ball at the Alabama 28. Wilson avoided what would have been the eighth LSU sack of the game as he scrambled for 23 yards to the LSU 49 with a minute to play. And that was it. A Wilson pass to Matt Caddell was dropped. Wilson was short on a pass to D.J. Hall. Mike McCoy was knocked loose from a pass. And on fourth-and-10, Wilson's pass to Keith Brown was broken up on a good hit by Craig Steitz and LSU had its

Leigh Tiffin got the Tide on the scoreboard first with a 36-yard field goal with 12:30 to play. John Parker Wilson had pass completions of 10 and 32 yards to Matt Caddell in the drive, which otherwise had no success. Bama had the ball 10 plays and went 44 yards before having to kick the field goal.

Alabama's defense did not look good as the LSU offense came back towards the Crimson Tide goal, but after the Tigers reached first down at the Bama 12, Alabama stiffened and forced a 43-yard field goal from Colt David, which tied the score at 3-3 with 6:05 to play. The Tigers had driven 59 yards in 11 plays at the time of the kick.

Alabama's turnover in the last two minutes wasn't the only one leading to an easy LSU touchdown. Wilson was trying to hit Caddell on an out pattern, but threw the ball behind Caddell and into the hands of Chevis Jackson, who returned the interception 16 yards to the Alabama 12. On third and eight, the Tigers executed a nice middle screen from Flynn to Doucet for the touchdown. LSU had a 10-3 lead with 4:30 to play in the first quarter.

While Alabama's offense was struggling -- an unblocked Chad Jones nearly took Wilson's head off on a safety blitz to end the Tide's next possession -- LSU was having great fun, including a reverse and throwback to Flynn by Doucet for 35 yards. Although Flynn was shaken up on the play, the Tigers were inside the Alabama 20. (Flynn proved he wasn't shaken up too bad as he ran for nine yards on the next play.) Jacob Hester took it to the five for a first-and-goal. On third and goal from the one, on the first play of the second quarter, Hester took it in and the Tigers had a 17-3 lead.

After an exchange of punts it looked like Alabama's offense was stopped again, but a roughing the passer call against LSU on a third down incompletion gave Bama new life. Wilson took advantage of it with a 67-yard pass to D.J. Hall for a touchdown that pulled the Tide to withing 17-10 with 11:03 to play. (Hall had only one other reception in the game, a nine-yard catch.)

Interceptions played a big role in Alabama taking a 20-17 halftime lead.

The first of three second quarter interceptions by Alabama didn't lead to points, but the interception by Rashad Johnson changed field position for the Tide. Bama ended up punting, but P.J. Fitzgerald's kick was caught by Johnson at the LSU 5. Two plays later Flynn's pass was intercepted by Ezekial Knight at the LSU 10.

But the Bama offense, even with help of an LSU pass interference call, couldn't get the touchdown. Tiffin's 21-yard field goal pulled the Tide to within four points at 17-13 with 6:12 to play in the first half.

LSU came marching back, driving from the LSU 17 to the Alabama 23. But on a third and two, Flynn's sideline pass was picked off by Kareem Jackson and returned 51 yards to the LSU 20. After Wilson was sacked for a nine-yard loss, on second down he found Keith Brown in the end zone. Brown was double-covered, but won the jump ball for the score. Tiffin's extra point made it 20-17 with 46 seconds to play.

LSU made a nice drive, but it bogged down at the Alabama 29 with time running out. The Tigers tried a 46-yard field goal, but Bama's Kareem Jackson got a hand on it as the clock ran out.

Penalties and interceptions were LSU's undoing in the first half. Although the Tigers had nearly a two-to-one advantage in yards (253-135), the Tigers were penalized 10 times for 79 yards, Alabama only once for five yards.

Another penalty against LSU was helpful, but the offense gets the credit for a nifty eight-play, 80-yard drive to Wilson's third touchdown pass of the game. Wilson barely got the check play off and Keith Brown was wide open in the end zone on the 14-yard scoring play. With just 1:19 left in the third quarter Bama had extended its lead to 27-17. Wilson had completed first down passes of 13 yards to Caddell and 10 and 15 yards to tight end Nick Walker. Jonathan Lowe, having his first action of the year at tailback, had an eight-yard run with a facemask penalty tacked on to put the ball at the 15.

LSU didn't roll over, though. The nation's third-ranked team picked on Bama's best-known defensive back, Flynn connecting with Demetrius Byrd on a 61-yard touchdown over Simeon Castille. It took less than a minute for the Tigers to get the touchdown back and close the game to only three points again. The teams went to the fourth quarter with Alabama holding a 27-24 lead.

LSU tied the game at 27-27 with 11:21 to play when David kicked a 49-yard field goal for the Tigers, setting up the dramatic finish.

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