Tigers outlast Alabama in OT thriller

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - An 11-yard pass from quarterback JaMarcus Russell to wideout Dwayne Bowe secured the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers 16-13 overtime victory over No. 4 Alabama on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

With the win, the Tigers (8-1, 5-1 SEC) moved to the top of the SEC's Western Division and sit in the driver's seat heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Alabama, which fell to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in conference play, saw a perfect season fall by the wayside in their backyard.

The win marks the third straight and fifth in the past six games for the Tigers over the Tide. LSU also extended its win streak to three-straight games in Tuscaloosa.

While the final stats suggest a relatively even battle, with LSU narrowly out-gaining the Tide, 270-272, it was a hearty second half offensive output and defensive stand that got the Tigers back into the game. Gaining just 72 yards through 30 minutes of play, LSU tacked on 158 yards through the air and another 45 on the ground in putting all of their points on the board in the second half and overtime.

Individually, Russell finished the day with 229 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-30 passing. He hit Bowe for seven receptions and a season high 98 yards.

Leading the rushing attack was junior Justin Vincent who gained 56 yards on 20 carries, including a 1-yard TD run.

The game began with LSU winning the toss and deferring to the second half. Alabama chose to receive and defend the North endzone.

Both teams were held scoreless on their first possession as the Tide drove to midfield but could not convert on third and 13 on a pass from Croyle to receiver DJ Hall. Following the Alabama punt, LSU took over on their 19-yard line. The Tigers covered just three yards in three plays and were forced into a punt situation as well.

Jackson booted the ball 36 yards as the Tide began the ensuing possession on their 42-yard line. Croyle connected with Keith Brown for a 26-yard reception to enter LSU territory on the 30. Darby added an additional yard on a rush to the left, but two incomplete passes held the Tide's first scoring opportunity of the day to 46-yard field goal attempt. Kicker Jamie Christensen could not follow through, missing wide right.

The Tigers took over on their own 29-yard but proceeded to go three and out on a pair of incomplete passes and a short rush by Addai.

Alabama regained the ball on their 22-yard line and began an 11 play, 67 yard scoring drive that resulted in a successful 28-yard field goal attempt by Christensen with 5:15 to go in the first quarter.

The Tigers then used nearly five minutes of playing time but only covered 16 yards before having to punt the ball back to Alabama just before the end of the first quarter.

Taking over possession, the Tide used a 15-yard rush by Tim Castille and 13-yard run by Jimmy Johns to move down the field. An 11-yard slant pass to Hall followed by 19-yard reception by McClain took Alabama in LSU territory. A pass interference call on the Tigers and a small gain by Darby set up the Tide's first score. Broyle connected will Hall on a pass down the middle to give Alabama the 9-0 lead. Christensen's PAT was good and finished off the 11 play, 84-yard drive.

The score remained Alabama 10, LSU 0, through the half as the Tide defense limited the Tigers to just five complete passes and 72 total yards.

Sensing what was on the line, the Tigers came out of the locker room with a new-found determination.

Taking the ball on the their 20-yard line the Tigers drove 70 yards on passes to Craig Davis and Justin Vincent and another 20 rushing yards by Vincent. The Tigers came up short on three tries before handing the ball to Vincent who punched it into the endzone for the 1-yard score on fourth-and-1. The score was the first against the Alabama defense in 15 quarters. Jackson made the PAT to bring the Tigers within three of the Tide.

Alabama could not respond in the next drive, moving the ball 11 yards before a sack by free safety LaRon Landry forced the Tide to punt on fourth and 21. Taking over on the Alabama 45, Russell quickly moved the ball down the field on a 28-yard reception to Bowe. Bowe then added an 8-yard gain, but a personal foul by Tigers brought the ball back to the Tide 32, forcing a field goal attempt.

Coming off the left hash, Jackson was successful on the 42-yard attempt, knotting up the score at 10. Jackson's field goal was the 22nd of his career and moved him into seventh on the Tigers' all-time list.

The Tiger defense then looked to have held the Alabama offense to another three-and-out possession, but an untimely holding penalty in the punt formation returned the ball to the Tide with a fresh set of downs at the 37-yard line. However, the Tiger defense would not be deterred, eventually stopping Croyle with a sack as time ran out in the third quarter.

Alabama opened the final quarter with a punt that put the Tigers down on their 12 yard-line. Russell steadily moved the Tigers down the field to Alabama 30, setting up a 46-yard field goal for Jackson. Jackson's kick had the distance but missed just to the left of the uprights with 3:52 to go in the third quarter.

The Tiger defense was stingy on the next possession and forced Alabama to punt out of their own end zone. The Tide booted the ball out of bounds at the 41-yard line. They Tigers could not take advantage of the short field and were forced to punt after three downs. Jackson pinned the Tide down to their 4-yard line where they went three and out.

The Tigers took over possession midfield on a 1-yard return by Green. LSU converted on third down and continued to the 33-yard line, once again setting up a long field goal attempt for Jackson. Needing 50 yards for the score, Jackson missed for the third time and the Tide regained possession with 24 seconds left in regulation.

The Tiger defense kept Alabama unsuccessful in securing a score despite a 40-yard gain by Glen Coffee as time expired to send the contest into overtime.

In overtime, LSU won the toss and elected to start on defense.

On the first play, Alabama's Darby gained a yard but a penalty forced them back to the 30-yard line. A 9-yard reception and 4-yard gain by Darby brought the Tide within the red zone. Pressure from the Tiger defense forced Alabama to settle for a 34-yard field goal attempt that was successful by Christensen.

Taking over on the 25, Russell completed a screen pass to Vincent that was good for a first down at the 15. The Tigers gained four yards on a reverse to Xavier Carter, before a 12-yard pass to Bowe in the middle of the end zone secured the victory.

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