Top-ranked Alabama used a 72-yard drive in the final 1:34 of the game to escape Tiger Stadium with a 21-17 victory on Saturday night.
It was a slugfest for most of the night between two of the country's most physical teams
LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) took a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter and looked to be on its way to earning a thrilling victory. However, the Crimson Tide needed only five plays and 43 seconds to score the go-ahead touchdown with 51 seconds remaining.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron dumped off a screen pass to running back T.J. Yeldon who scampered 28 yards for the back-breaking score against an LSU defense that had only allowed 49 yards in the second half.
After converting a pair of scoring drives in the final of each half, the Crimson Tide remained undefeated at 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger had a career night against the top-rated Tide defense, completing 24-of-34 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked three times, but helped LSU convert 7-of-11 third downs in the second half.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the Tigers with eight catches and 76 yards with a go-ahead 14-yard touchdown catch with 12:58 remaining. Odell Beckham Jr. added 73 yards on four grabs including a 22-yarder on LSU's penultimate drive that ended in a missed field goal.
LSU running back Jeremy Hill had 107 yards rushing and eclipsed the century mark for the third-straight game, the first Tiger to do so since 2008 (Charles Scott). Hill had 29 of LSU's 49 carries, while Russell Shepard added 22 yards and Michael Ford had 13.
The Tigers outgained the Tide, 435-331, and ran 33 more plays (85-52).
LSU missed two field goals, had a failed fake field goal and an onside kick that was touched the kicker a half-yard too soon.
Alabama made mistakes of its own - two fumbles, one of which was at the LSU 10 - but came away with the slugfest with a victory.
McCarron's final scoring the drive highlighted an otherwise average performance. He managed 14-of-27 passing for 165 yards, of which 53 came in the deciding drive. McCarron also scored on a 9-yard scramble late in the first half.
Running back Eddie Lacy had a team-high 83 yards while Yeldon added 76. Kevin Norwood had a team-best five catches for 62 yards including a three of 44 yards to setup Tide's final score.
Alabama has won the toss and deferred its decision until the second half. The Crimson Tide kicked off to LSU from south to north out of the endzone.
Starting at its 25, LSU quickly gained a first down with a 7-yard run by Hill and an 8-yard catch by Boone to its 40. A second third-down pass to Boone went for seven yards and another first down, as LSU crossed midfield to the Alabama 47 less than two minutes into the contest. With the Tide coming to blitz in the passing situation, Beckham Jr. slipped and couldn't recover to make a finger-tip catch and another pass in his direction was overthrown. Brad Wing entered and his punt was fair caught at the Alabama 11.
With Tiger Stadium rocking, Alabama took the field for the first time. Facing a third-and-3, McCarron had a third-down pass batted away by Eric Reid and the Tide punted for the first time.
Cody Mandell's 46-yard effort was returned near midfield by Beckham Jr., however, an illegal block instead gave LSU possession at its 26. Using its running game, the Tigers again moved down the field against the vaunted Tide defense. A 19-yard run by Russell Shepard went to the LSU 45 before Michael Ford and Hill each had first-down runs. From the Alabama 35, three more runs gained another first down to the 25. Consecutive incomplete passes again stalled the drive and LSU put its three points on the board with a 38-yard field goal by Drew Alleman.
LSU led 3-0 with 6:11 remaining in the opening quarter.
Though Lacy broke off a 28-yard run to enter LSU territory for the first time, an offensive pass interference penalty pushed the Tide back to its side of the field and led to another punt by Mandell which sailed into the endzone.
For the third time in as many drives, LSU entered Tide territory, this time with a 19-yard run by Hill to the 47. This time, back-to-back sacks of Mettenberger ended the drive and Wing's punt was fair caught at the Alabama 8.
On the first drive of the second quarter, Yeldon and McCarron paced the Tide to its first scoring drive of the game. Yeldon ran for 40 yards and McCarron was 4-for-4 for 43 yards on the 92-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard run by Lacy. Alabama led 7-3 with 8:17 remaining in the half.
Beginning its drive at its 12 after Ford's short kickoff return from the endzone, Mettenberger connected with Beckham Jr. for nine yards to the 21. But, two plays went for minus-5 yards and Wing was called upon again. His 48-yard effort was fumbled by Jones at the Alabama 36 and recovered by LSU's Jerqwinick Sandolph at the 32.
A 19-yard Hill run on first down gave the Tigers first down at the Alabama 12, but a dead ball personal foul on fullback J.C. Copeland cost the Tigers 15 yards that they couldn't overcome. On fourth-and-12 from the 30, Alleman entered and setup for a 47-yard field goal attempt that was faked. The placekicker took a pass from Wing, the holder, but the play was sniffed out by the Tide and went for a loss of two yards.
The missed opportunity on the turnover was compounded by a missed field goal on LSU's next drive after an Alabama three-and-out. On the drive, Mettenberger got out of his endzone's shadow with a 38-yard catch and run by Ware to the LSU 47. An 8-yard pass to tight end Nic Jacobs gave the Tigers another first down to the Alabama 35, but LSU moved backward two yards and Alleman's 54-yard field goal attempt was well short.
Alabama took advantage of the final 68 seconds of the half, driving 63 yards in six plays for its second touchdown in the quarter. A 9-yard scramble by McCarron capped the drive, and the Tide took a 14-3 lead into the half.
LSU didn't give Alabama the chance to gain momentum on the first drive of the second half, as the Tide quickly went three-and-out.
Alabama and LSU traded three punts, but a 64-yarder by Wing trumped Alabama's 33 yard punt that Beckham Jr. caught at the LSU 42.
Four third-conversions including three by Mettenberger passes led to LSU's first touchdown against the Tide since 2010. After a false start negated a touchdown catch by tight end Chase Clement, Landry converted the final third down with a 10-yard catch to the Alabama 1. Hill jumped over the line for a touchdown that cut Alabama's lead to 14-10.
LSU's attempt to keep the offensive momentum just barely backfired when kicker James Hairston tapped an onside kick straight ahead and looked to recover. However, the bounding ball bounced back toward him just short of the 45-yard line and the recovery was negated by a penalty.
The Tide's attempt to capitalize was spoiled when McCarron's handoff to Yeldon bounced off the running back's hip and was recovered by defensive end Sam Montgomery at the LSU 10.
On the ensuing drive, Mettenberger's short pass to Copeland out of the backfield turned into a 42-yard rumble down the LSU sideline that brought the crowd to life once again. Another third down conversion - this time 23 yards from Mettenberger to Landry - moved LSU to the Alabama 18. Two plays later, the pair connected again for a perfectly thrown back-shoulder fade into the left corner of the endzone for a touchdown.
LSU led 17-14 with 12:58 remaining.
Alabama went three-and-out on its next to drives, give LSU possession with 7:20 remaining. Mettenberger gave LSU first downs with a 13-yard pass to Landry, a 7-yard pass to Hill and a 22-yard pass to Beckham to the Alabama 32. The Tide called timeouts after first and second-down runs, but LSU gained only four yards before Alleman missed a 45-yard field goal to the left.
With 94 seconds remaining, McCarron used Norwood three-straight times for catches of 18, 15 and 11 yards to get to the LSU 28. After an incomplete pass in the endzone, McCarron rolled left and found Yeldon alone. The running back went nearly untouched into the endzone for the game-winning score.
The announced crowd was a stadium-record 93,374 surpassing the previous high of 93,129 against Florida in 2009.
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