Cody Stops Vols' Upset Bid
During Alabama-Tennessee week, there was some conversation about the difference between "playing to win" as opposed to "playing not to lose." There is no question Tennessee was playing to win Saturday. But the winning play was Alabama's, specifically the second blocked field goal of the game by Terrence Cody.
The Crimson Tide, on the brink of defeat in its first week as the nation's number one team, blocked a Tennessee field goal on the final play of the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday to preserve a 12-10 win for the Crimson Tide.
Daniel Lincoln, who had a field goal blocked earlier in the fourth quarter by Terrence Cody, was lined up for a 45-yard attempt to win the game on the final play. Although a number of Tide players had hands up for the block, Cody, the Tide's huge nose tackle, who made the play.
On the final play of the game, Alabama sold out to block the punt with its "max block," all 11 men involved in the effort to make the block. The middle was controlled by Cody and Marcell Dareus, who pushed forward into the Tennessee backfield. Leaping behind them was Julio Jones, who seemed likely to block the kick had Cody not done so.
While Tennessee was having two field goals blocked, Alabama senior Leigh Tiffin was good on four field goals, including one of 50 yards and a fourth quarter kick of 49 yards that proved to be the game-winner.
Alabamal, now 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Southeastern Conference play, has its lone open date of the season next Saturday. The Crimson Tide returns to action Saturday, November 7, hosting LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff time and television will be announced later, but it's almost certain CBS will choose the game for a 2:30 p.m. CST kickoff.
Tennessee fell to 3-4, including a 1-3 SEC record.
Final Book and Stats:
Alabama had a 12-3 lead and the ball as the clock ticked under four minutes to play when things began to unravel for Bama. First, tailback Mark Ingram, who had never lost a fumble, was hit and fumbled and Tennessee's All-America safety Eric Berry recovered for the Vols at the Alabama 43.
Tennessee used just over two minutes of the three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game to get a touchdown. Jonathan Crompton completed an 11-yard pass to Gerald Jones with 1:19 to play. Lincoln's extra point kick made it 12-10.
It was the first touchdown allowed by the Alabama defense since the Kentucky game. Bama had gone 11 quarters without surrendering a touchdown.
There was no one in the stadium who did not know what Tennessee had to do to have a chance to win the game. The Vols had to recover the onsides kick. Incredibly, Lincoln's onsides kick was recovered for Tennessee at the 41 by Denarius Moore.
Tennessee drove to the Alabama 28 and stopped the clock with a spike, setting up the final drama.
Alabama got on the scoreboard first with a 38-yard field goal by Leigh Tiffin with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter. Bama had second-and-four just outside the Tennessee 20, but two passes were incomplete, forcing the field goal. Bama had driven 49 yards in 10 plays, including overcoming a 10-yard block-in-the-back penalty. The Tide used its Bobcat formation (the wildcat with quarterback Greg McElroy not even in the game) for some nice gains on the drive.
Tennessee tied the game early in the second quarter after the Vols drove to a first-and-goal at the Alabama eight. When the drive fizzled, Daniel Lincoln kicked a 24-yard field goal to tie the game. Jonathan Crompton completed a 27-yard pass to the Vols' outstanding tailback, Montario Hardesty, to get the drive started. Crompton also completed a 19-yard pass to Denarius Moore in the drive.
Bama went back in front for good with 7:54 remaining in the first half when Tiffin was good on a 50-yard field goal. Bama got a good kickoff return from Terry Grant to the Tide 45. (Tennessee came into the game ranked 12th in the SEC in kickoff coverage.) A McElroy pass to Julio Jones gained 13 and Trent Richardson picked up a first down at the Tennessee 30. But three plays lost three yards and Tiffin was called on for his 50-yard effort that gave Bama a 6-3 lead. The 50-yard field goal was Tiffin's longest of this season.
If Alabama's first two scoring drives were frustrating, the third was maddening. Tiffin's third field goal would give Alabama a 9-3 lead at intermission.
Alabama drove to a second-and-two at the Tennessee five-yard line with just under two minutes to play. Twice the Tide tried McElroy to Jones passes and both were incomplete, forcing Tiffin to kick his third field goal of the half, a 22-yard effort. That drive had included Ingram gaining 21 yards on four carries and Trent Richardson gaining 11 yards on two runs. McElroy did complete three passes in the 69-yard drive, including a 19-yard gainer to Marquis Maze.
Tennessee drove to the Alabama 30 with one second remaining in the first half and Lincoln tried a 47-yard field goal. The kick went about 46 yards, just short. The Vols got 40 of their 149 yards of first half offense in that late drive against Bama's prevent defense.
Tennessee seemed poised to possibly take the lead with a nice drive from the UT 20 to a first down at Bama's 31. But a first down pass was incomplete and on second down cornerback Javier Arenas nabbed Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton for a 12-yard loss. Afer a five-yard penalty against the Vols, a swing pass lost three yards, back into Alabama territory. Tennessee had to punt.
With 10:42 to play in the game, Lincoln's very low 42-yard field goal try was blocked by Terrence Cody and the Tide took over at the Alabama 37.
A McElroy pass to tight end Chris Smelley gained 10 yards and a first down at midfield. McElroy then called his own number, a quarterback draw that picked up 12 to the Tennessee 28. A third down pass to Roy Upchurch might have gained enough for another first down, but Upchurch got tangled up with the umpire and came up four yards short.
That meant a 49-yard field goal try to Tiffin, who got it through for a 12-3 lead with 6:31 to play.
It seems sure the game was secure when Alabama forced a Tennessee punt with 5:21 to play. The Vols' Chad Cunningham kicked a 58-yard effort to the Alabama three, where it was downed.
Bama worked out of the hole to a first and 10 at the Bama 38 when Mark Ingram lost the first fumble of his career.
Crompton was sacked on first down by Marcell Dareus, but from midfield completed a 16-yard pass to Hardesty, an eight-yard pass to Moore, a seven-yard pass to Luke Stocker to the 11. On third-and-five, Crompton completed the touchdown pass to Jones, and Lincoln pulled the Vols to within two points, 12-10, with 1:19 to play.
The onsides kick was recovered by Moore with 1:19 to play.
Crompton, much maligned until a romp over Georgia two weeks ago, was exceptional against Alabama (21-37 for 265 yards). He took the Vols to reasonable field goal distance for the win with completions of 14 yards to Jones to the Alabama 45-yard line and 23 yards to Stocker to the Alabama 27.