#1 Alabama Downs LSU, Stays Undefeated

OJ Howard (Alabama Athletics)

OJ Howard
(Alabama Athletics)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WCBI Sports/Alabama Athletics) – Top-ranked Alabama (9-0 overall; 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference) seized control of a tight game in the second half to cruise to an impressive 38-17 win over No. 10 LSU (7-3 overall; 3-3 SEC) on Saturday night before a crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Running back T.J. Yeldon led a physical Alabama offense by carrying a career-high 25 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns while linebacker C.J. Mosley led all defenders with a game-high 12 total tackles along with 1.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups.

In the second half, the Crimson Tide took control of a game that was tied 17-17 in the third quarter, outgaining LSU 96 to minus-9 yards in total offense during the game’s final period. The Alabama defense held LSU to 52 yards of offense in the second half after allowing the Tigers to gain 232 yards in the first half. Alabama’s defense registered eight stops for losses, including four quarterback sacks, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron passed for 179 yards while completing 14 of 20 pass attempts for three touchdowns without throwing an interception. Along the way, he became the Alabama school record holder for career passing yards as he ended the night with 7,997 yards. That surpassed the previous standard of 7,924 yards set by John Parker Wilson from 2005-08.

Alabama rushed for 193 yards on the night and tallied 372 total yards while holding LSU to 284 yards overall (43 rushing, 241 passing), stifling the Tigers in the second half. In addition to Yeldon’s 133 rushing yards, Kenyan Drake had 65 yards on 10 carries for the Tide and Kevin Norwood led the team with four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.

For LSU, Zach Mettenberger completed 16 of 23 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown without throwing an interception. Jeremy Hill rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries to lead the Tigers. Jarvis Landry led the Tigers in receiving with 90 yards on five catches. Lamin Barrow led LSU with 11 tackles.

After forcing an Alabama punt on the game’s opening possession, the Tigers took over at their own 14-yard line and created a scoring opportunity that went awry in the shadow of the Tide end zone. The nine-play, 81-yard drive ended in futility due to a fumble.

Running back Jeremy Hill rushed for five yards to the LSU 19, caught a Zack Mettenberger pass for four more to the 23, then rushed for two yards and a first down before losing a yard on a third consecutive rush. From the LSU 24, Mettenberger hit Jarvis Landry with a 45-yard pass to the Tide 31, beating Tide cornerback Deion Belue. Terrance Magee bulled over left guard for 13 yards to the Alabama 18. Magee rushed around right tackle for nine yards to the Tide 9. Magee carried straight ahead for six yards for a first down at the Tide 3.

J.C. Copeland entered the game at running back, took a handoff from Mettenberger around left tackle and appeared headed for a touchdown but was stripped of the football by Tide linebacker Tana Patrick at the Tide one-yard line. Landon Collins recovered the fumble at the five-yard line and returned it five yards to set up Alabama at its own 10 with 8:11 left in the first quarter.

Alabama was forced to punt again on the ensuing possession and LSU took over at the Tigers’ 27. On the first play, Mettenberger was sacked by a blitzing Trey DePriest for a six-yard loss to the LSU 21. LSU lost a fumble on the next play when Mettenberger, standing in shotgun formation, stepped forward and center Elliot Porter snapped the ball before Mettenberger was ready. Mettenberger was not looking at Porter and the ball bounced off Mettenberger and toward the line of scrimmage. DePriest recovered for the Tide at the LSU 27.

An incomplete pass, a three-yard run by T.J. Yeldon, and another incompletion set up a 41-yard field goal attempt by Cade Foster from the LSU 24. The kick was good and the Tide had a 3-0 lead with 3:54 left in the first quarter.

LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to set up the Tiger offense in excellent field position at the LSU 43. LSU marched 57 yards in eight plays to a touchdown.

The Tigers moved into Alabama territory quickly, with Hill rushing for four to the LSU 47, then three more to the 50. On third-and-three, Mettenberger passed to Beckham for 17 yards to the Tide 33. Magee gained one yard on two consecutive carries to the Tide 31 before Mettenberger hit Landry on a 15-yard pass to the Tide 16. Hill took a handoff around right end for 13 more to a first-and-goal at the Tide three-yard line as the first quarter ended.

In the first quarter, LSU had racked up 129 yards of total offense to Alabama’s 42, but the Tigers trailed on the scoreboard as the second period began. That changed quickly as Hill took a handoff up the middle and bulled into the end zone on a three-yard touchdown run with 14:56 left in the second quarter. Colby Delahoussaye’s point-after kick was true and the Tigers held a 7-3 lead over the Tide.

Alabama responded, driving 78 yards on four plays to regain the lead, erasing their first deficit in a game since the Texas A&M games on Sept. 14, some seven games and nine weeks ago. Running back Kenyan Drake opened the drive with a 16-yard run over left tackle to the Tide 38. After LSU’s Jermauria Rasco sacked McCarron for an eight-yard loss to the Tide 30, McCarron completed a screen to Drake for 10 yards to the Alabama 40.

An incompletion intended for receiver Amari Cooper yielded a pass interference penalty on LSU that set up the Tide at the Alabama 48. On the next play, McCarron hit tight end O.J. Howard on a slant and Howard took it 52 yards diagonally across the field to the left corner pylon of the end zone for a touchdown. That gave Alabama a 10-7 lead with 12:35 left in the second quarter after Foster’s kick was good.

After a touchback on the kickoff, the Tigers started at their 25. Mettenberger hit a wide open Hill on a screen pass that gained 23 to the LSU 48. A rush by Hill gained five more in the Tide territory at the Alabama 47. Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley caught Magee for a three-yard loss to the 50 to set up a third-and-eight. Under pressure by linebacker Denzel Devall, Mettenberger threw incomplete and the Tigers punted into the end zone.

Alabama’s offense started to find a rhythm, marching 80 yards in 10 plays on a scoring drive that chewed up 5:18 of game clock.

McCarron passed to Cooper, who evaded two tacklers to gain 12 yards to the Tide 37. Behind excellent blocking, Drake took a handoff around right end for 15 yards and a first down at the Tide 47. McCarron then passed to DeAndrew White, who turned the short pass into a 13-yard gain and a first down at the LSU 40. Drake carried for one to the LSU 39 on first down. McCarron then hit Cooper on a crossing pattern for 21 to the LSU 18. Drake took a handoff over left end for nine to the Tiger nine. After a Drake rush for two yards, Yeldon lost two yards on a run back to the nine-yard line. From there McCarron passed to Kevin Norwood on corner route and Norwood caught the pass over tight coverage for a touchdown. Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 17-7 lead with 5:17 left in the second quarter.

LSU responded with an explosive drive of its own, quickly moving to a touchdown in 10 plays. The ensuing kickoff was downed in the end zone and the Tigers started at their 25. After two rushes gained four yards, Mettenberger hit Kadron Boone for a 28-yard pass play to the Tide 43. On the next play, Mettenberger connected with Beckham for 16 more to the Tide 27. After an incompletion and a four-yard pass to Alfred Blue reached the Tide 23, Mettenberger eluded pressure to connect with a wide open Jarvis Landry for 15 yards to the Tide eight-yard line and a first down.

Mettenberger’s pass to Beckham on first down was incomplete in the right front corner of the end zone. On second down, Hill carried up the middle for two to the Tide six. Facing third-and-goal, Mettenberger passed over the middle to Travin Dural, who caught his perfectly thrown pass behind Tide safety Landon Collins in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The six-yard touchdown play concluded a 75-yard march in 10 plays that pulled the Tigers within three at 17-14 with 43 seconds left in the second quarter.

LSU received the kickoff to open the second half with Beckham returning it 24 yards to set up the Tigers at their 26. On the first play, Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley bobbled a sure interception of a Mettenberger and LSU’s Dillon Gordon caught it for a 22-yard gain to the LSU 48. Hill gained five yards over right guard to the Tide 47. A 15-yard face masking penalty by the Tide’s Ed Stinson set up the Tigers with a first down at the Alabama 32. Magee rushed for two over left tackle, then gained one on a draw play to set up third-and-seven at the Tide 29. Mettenberger passed to Landry on a crossing pattern for five yards to the Tide 24. Delahoussaye entered to try a 41-yard field goal. The kick was good and the Tigers had tied it at 17-17 with 12:01 left in the third quarter.

Christion Jones took the ensuing kickoff 21 yards to the Tide 21. Yeldon gained seven on first down and five more to a first down at the Tide 33. McCarron gained two on a scramble and Yeldon added seven more on a carry over right tackle to the Tide 42. On third-and-one, Yeldon lost a yard on a run to set up fourth-and-two at the Tide 41. Alabama lined up to punt, but had to call a timeout due to a substitution problem with 8:52 left in the third quarter.

When play resumed, Alabama lined up in punt formation but the snap went directly to C.J. Mosley, who handed the ball to Jarrick Williams who ran for six yards to keep the drive alive at the Tide 47. Yeldon then gained six yards on two carries to set up a third-and-four at the LSU 47. McCarron passed to Cooper in traffic for 13 yards and a first down at the Tiger 34. After an incompletion, Yeldon took a handoff over left tackle and ran for 22 yards to the LSU 12. Drake entered for Yeldon and gained seven on a run at right guard to the LSU 5. Drake gained one more to the LSU 4 to set up third-and-two. Yeldon took a handoff and raced to the corner of the end zone for four yards and a touchdown with 4:11 left in the third quarter. Foster’s point-after kick was good and the Tide led, 24-17, after the 14-play, 79-yard drive that consumed 7:50.

LSU moved into Alabama territory on the next possession but stalled at the Tide 49. LSU punter Jamie Keehn’s punt was short and took a friendly Alabama roll on a 24-yarder that set up Alabama at its 25 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. On first down, McCarron tucked and ran for four yards to the Tide 33, but after he went out of bounds he was tripped by LSU’s Tahj Jones, who was flagged for a late hit. The 15-yard penalty moved the Tide to the 48. After an incompletion on a deep pass for Kenny Bell, McCarron passed to Norwood for nine yards to the LSU 43 to set up a third-and-one play. Yeldon took a handoff at right guard and gained two yards for a first down at the Tiger 41. Yeldon gained four more over right guard to the LSU 37, then burst through left guard for 10 to the Tiger 27 before taking a pass over the middle from McCarron that yielded 13 yards to the LSU 14. Yeldon then carried for nine more to the LSU five, eclipsing the 100-yard mark (104 yards rushing at that moment) for the ninth time in his Alabama career. On the next play, a five-yard pass to Jalston Fowler scored a touchdown but the play was erased by an illegal formation penalty that moved the Tide back to the LSU 10. On second-and-six, Yeldon took a handoff up the middle and raced nine yards to the LSU one-yard line. On the first-and-goal play, Yeldon took a handoff over left guard into the end zone on a one-yard touchdown run. The scoring drive went 71 yards in 10 plays – nine of which featured Yeldon – and traversed 71 yards while consuming 4:44 of game time. Foster’s conversion kick gave the Tide a 31-17 lead with 10:31 left.

Almost predictably, LSU stormed back again. Beckham returned the kickoff 82 yards to the Tide 18. Tide safety Landon Collins and linebacker C.J. Mosley dropped Hill for a loss of three yards on first down. On second down from the Tide 21, Collins stepped in front of a Mettenberger pass intended for Landy at the Tide 10 but couldn’t hold on. On third-and-13, Mosley knocked down a Mettenberger pass intended for Travis Dickson to force a fourth-and-13 situation. Lining up in the shotgun formation, Mettenberger was ruled to have called a timeout a split second prior to an errant snap. The Tigers regrouped to plot their fourth down play with 9:17 left in the fourth period.

Mettenberger passed to Landry on the right sideline in the end zone, but Tide cornerback Geno Smith had Landry covered and the ball sailed out of bounds incomplete with 9:10 remaining.

Alabama’s offense continued to enforce its will on the LSU defense on the ensuing drive, moving 78 yards in eight plays on a march that consumed five minutes of the clock. Yeldon rushed for two yards to the Tide 24 before McCarron threw to Norwood for 12 yards to the Tide 36. A 15-yard penalty on LSU for a late hit after Norwood was down moved the Tide to the LSU 49. Drake ran for three yards, then gained 11 more over right tackle to the Tiger 35.

Drake was stopped for a loss of four to the LSU 39 but the Tigers were flagged for a personal foul via a facemask penalty that moved the ball to the Tiger 20. Yeldon took the ball over right tackle for 14 yards to the LSU six, then gained one to the Tiger five and two more to the LSU three. On third-and-goal McCarron passed to Jalston Fowler on a swing pass and Fowler fought past a tackler into the end zone for a touchdown. Foster’s kick was true to give the Tide a 38-17 lead with 4:10 remaining.

LSU started its next possession at its 30-yard line after a 29-yard kickoff return by Beckham. A 20-yard pass from Mettenberger to Hill on first down reached the 50. Mettenberger was flushed from the pocket on first down and stopped by Mosley for no gain. On second down, Mettenberger was sacked for a loss of seven yards by Jeoffrey Pagan. LSU called timeout with 2:48 showing on the clock. On third-and-17 from the Tiger 43, Mettenberger was sacked as he faded back to pass by Cyrus Jones and Landon Collins for an 11-yard loss. LSU now faced fourth-and-28 at its own 32-yard line. The Tigers called their final timeout with exactly 2:00 showing on the clock. On fourth down, Tide linebacker Adrian Hubbard sacked Mettenberger for a nine-yard loss at the LSU 24.

Alabama took possession with 1:55 remaining and ran out the clock.

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