Kick it to win it

Alleman's 25-yard field goal in overtime propels the No. 1-ranked Tigers to a stirring 9-6 victory over No. 2 Alabama on a night when both defenses dominated.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – For two weeks everybody with a keyboard or a microphone talked about how stout the defenses were for Alabama and LSU were and how big their impact would be when the two SEC titans met at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Drew Alleman

 

That played out Saturday, but special teams sure had a major say in the outcome as well.

 

LSU kicker Drew Alleman connected on three field goals, one fewer than Alabama missed, as the No. 1-ranked Tigers eked out a 9-6 overtime victory Saturday in a fist fight disguised as a football game.

 

Alleman’s last kick was a 25-yarder after Michael Ford scampered 15 yards down the left sideline on LSU’s second snap of the extra session.

 

"It's great. It's wonderful," Alleman said. "Every kicker dreams it and I got to live it. It was amazing."


Added LSU coach Les Miles, "He's got some salty to him."

 

As the ball sailed through the uprights, Alleman sprinted toward the Tigers sideline, as his teammates and coaches erupted in celebration and spilled onto the field.

 

The Tigers (9-0, 6-0 SEC) got the ball in OT with the game still tied because Cade Foster missed a 52-yard kick on Alabama’s possession, and that was the story of the night for the Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1).

 

Foster had to try the long kick after LSU’s Sam Montgomery sacked A.J. McCarron for a 5-yard loss on third down.

 

“It surely didn’t go by script,” Tigers coach Miles said.

 

“We just keep fighting and we find a way.”

 

The highly touted defenses were as good as advertised.

 

In the first-ever regular-season SEC matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2, neither offense ever got comfortable. LSU managed only 238 total yards and Alabama had 295.

 

That turned the night into a battle of field goals and field position, and the Tigers won in both areas.

 

Eric Reid

Besides Alleman’s 3-for-3 night, punter Brad Wing was spectacular, downing a pair of punts at the 5 or deeper and uncorking a 73-yard howitzer after LSU’s offense couldn’t carve out a first down from inside its own 10 after a dazzling interception by Eric Reid, who wrestled the ball away from Bama tight end Michael Williams on a pass from receiver Marquis Maze, who has lined up in the wildcat formation.

 

“We spend an inordinate amount of time on special teams,” Miles said. “Our guys take pride in it and work at it. We're pretty confident that we'd send Drew on the field and get threes. I felt like our punter really pinned them down in there several times. We have a quality defense and played decent field position in the game. That’s just solid football.”

 

On the series before Reid’s pick, Alleman knotted the score 6-6 after Morris Claiborne gave the Tigers a jolt with an interception and 33-yard return.

 

With Alabama moving after a pair of first downs, Claiborne dashed across the formation as A.J. McCarron was waiting for a receiver to get open and popped in front of tight end Brad Smelley at midfield. Claiborne snared the pass and raced down the left sideline, knocking one would-be tackler out of his way.

 

""We had a middle check to it," Claiborne said. "I didn't see the tight end that was down, but the safeties got me over and we got into our coverage. The receiver mad a little out cut and I was fortunate to come up with an interception.

“I saw what they were going to do and ran over and made a play. I guess it changed the game for us.”

 

From the 15-yard-line, LSU couldn’t make a dent in the Crimson Tide – a theme all night – but Alleman boomed the short kick through to even the score.

 

Foster put Alabama back in front with a 46-yard field goal at the 7:56 mark of the third quarter after Mark Barron swiped LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee’s pass into double coverage on the first play after a Crimson Tide punt.

 

Barron nearly took the pick back for a touchdown, but a block-in-the-back flag forced Alabama to set up from the 35-yard-line instead. The Tigers wouldn’t budge much, allowing a 4-yard A.J. McCarron pass to Marquis Maze on third down.

 

That set up Alabama’s fifth field-goal try of the night and Foster – who missed his first two tries in the first quarter – split the uprights for the go-ahead points.

 

The first half was a physical 3-3 tug-o-war, with Alabama winning much of the time but coming up short in the kicking game.

 

The Crimson Tide moved the ball on each of their first three series, but missed field goals each time – Cade Foster from 44 and 50 yards and Shelley when Bennie Logan swatted the ball down on a 49-yard try.

 

“The missed field goals, or the opportunities that created the missed field goals, an interception penalty that takes us out of field position that takes us out of position and not being able to take advantage of the field position after that to score points,” Tide coach Nick Saban said.

 

“We just didn’t execute well enough in certain situations and did not take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had.”

 

Reid scooped up the ball after the block and raced 26 yards into Alabama territory. But like it did most of the first half, the LSU offense sputtered and had to punt. The Tigers didn’t have kicking-game woes as Wing dropped a 35-yard punt at the Tide 4-yard-line, his second kick that pinned Alabama inside the 10.

 

Unfazed, the Tide pieced together its best drive of the first 30 minutes and finally capitalized when Shelley booted a 34-yard field goal with 3:53 left in the first half.

 

Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson keyed the series, which was no surprise since he accounted for 169 of Alabama’s 295 total yards.

 

On Bama’s initial field-goal drive, ran four times for 20 yards and rambled 39 yards on a pass to the left flat, completely juking normally sure-handed Tiger tacklers Reid and Brandon Taylor to cover the final 25 yards.

 

That play got the Tide to the LSU 19, but the Tigers tightened up and forced the kick, which gave them their first deficit since the second quarter of the season opener against Oregon.

 

LSU’s offense finally found some rhythm on the ensuing possession behind Jefferson and Ford.

Michael Ford: 72 rushing yards paced LSU offense

 

Ford dashed 14 and 9 yards on option plays to each side and then punched through the middle of the tough-as-nails Alabama defense for 6 yards for another first down.

 

On first-and-15 after a substitution penalty, Jefferson dropped straight back and rifled a 34-yard strike to Russell Shepard – the Tigers’ longest play of the night – to move the ball to the 6.

 

Four plays only got LSU 4 yards closer to the goal line, and Miles alertly called a timeout with 2 ticks to go when Spencer Ware was stuffed for no gain.

That gave Drew Alleman a chance to kick a 20-yard field goal and he connected to send the game to halftime in a 3-3 deadlock.

Thanks to Alleman, the Tigers are still on track for a chance at a national championship.

Miles isn’t ready to look too far ahead, especially in the euphoric wake of one of the biggest – if not the biggest – regular-season win of his seven-year LSU tenure.

Because the game was so close, so intense, so tightly contested, there doesn’t figure to be any lag time before the talk stirs up about of a potential rematch in the BCS National Championship Game.  

“The next series of games are just so much more important now,” Miles said. “It’s all about finishing the season.

“I think our football team would be honored to face that team again, if it ends up being that kind of year.”


SCORING RECAP: LSU 9, Alabama 6



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