LSU didn’t lose to Alabama because of the unsportsmanlike penalty on its final possession of regulation.
Alabama’s 55-yard field goal drive, Blake Sims’ touchdown pass in overtime, Anthony Jennings’ four consecutive incompletions on the next possession. Those were reasons why LSU lost on Saturday.
But Les Miles called that flag thrown against Vadal Alexander late in the fourth quarter the most significant point of the game. It did cost LSU 15 yards and an opportunity at a touchdown instead of just a field goal. And in a rare act of criticism, Miles expressed his disagreement with the call.
“I’m going to want to look at the personal foul on the goal line before I comment,” Miles said. “If one of my guys did that, I’m going to tell him, and I’m going to be upfront. But that’s not what I’m told, so I’m going to investigate it. That penalty changed the complexion of the game.”
After a run for no gain by Terrence Magee from the Alabama six-yard line, several LSU and Alabama players got involved in a bit of a shoving match. Being that deep into an emotional rivalry game is bound to produce a little extracurricular physicality.
Alexander was the one the referees saw though. His push of A’Shawn Robinson and the ensuing fall attracted the flag. The refs called it “unsportsmanlike conduct.” It kicked the Tigers out of touchdown range. They settled for a field goal, and Alabama managed to even it on the next possession.
But no one in LSU colors Saturday thought Alexander deserved a flag in the first place.
“I was told [by the referees] that it was a personal foul and that [Alexander] was the guy,” Miles said. “I wasn’t told what he did. My team told me that was not the case, that he did not hit anybody, that he was hit and yanked on. I want to see the whole thing. I want to see what was seen.”
Alexander’s teammates immediately came to his defense. They informed Miles of what they saw. Anthony Jennings pleaded with the referee to pick up the flag.
He was unsuccessful.
“That was a huge penalty,” Jennings said. “It’s a lot of pushing and shoving going on throughout the game. There’s a lot of emotion. That’s a hard call.”
There’s no guarantee LSU would have scored a touchdown had that penalty not happened. It’s impossible to predict how things may have changed, if they’d even changed at all.
But Miles couldn’t help but dwell on it.
“I wonder if that call was worthy.”
It’s clear that Miles thought it wasn’t.
Personal foul costs LSU in Alabama loss
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