Rapid Reaction: Alabama D comes up big to deny LSU
Alabama’s offense had a hard time getting going Saturday night against LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. But the defense, maligned at times this season, kept the Crimson Tide afloat and made several big plays to help secure a victory.
Bama (8-1 overall, 5-1 SEC), No. 2 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, came back from a 7-0 deficit in a 20-14 win over the Tigers, but it wasn’t easy.
LSU (4-5, 2-4) forced a fumble from Bryce Young on Cam Lewis’ hit with 3:25 left to give the Tigers the ball on the Bama 42-yard line. But Alabama’s defense held as the Tigers only gained 1 yard in 4 plays.
LSU went for it on fourth down from the Bama 7-yard line with 6:46 left but Max Johnson’s pass was incomplete.
The Tigers had one final chance, getting the ball back after a Bama punt with 50 seconds left in the game. But Dallas Turner sacked Johnson on first down and, with no timeouts, LSU got no ferther than the Tide 30-yard line.
On a night when the Crimson Tide’s ground game did nothing, Young passed for more than 300 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Young hit Jameson Williams for a 58-yard TD pass early in the third quarter for a 20-7 lead (after Will Reichard missed the PAT) as the Crimson Tide’s big-play offense finally appeared. Williams had 10 catches for 160 yards in the game. Alabama was No. 10 in FBS in total offense coming in at 494 yards per game and second in scoring at 46 points a game.
That TD was set up when Alabama forced and recovered a fumble on LSU’s first drive of the second half. Henry To’o To’o forced a fumble from Tigers running back Tyrion Davis-Price and defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis recovered.
But Jack Bech caught an 8-yard TD from Johnson to bring LSU within 20-14 in the third quarter.
The Crimson Tide put together a critical sequence late in the second quarter. Christian Harris deflected a Johnson pass and Jalyn Armour-Davis intercepted it for the Crimson Tide, giving them the ball in LSU territory with 1:09 left in the first half. Bama took advantage with Young’s 8-yard TD pass to John Metchie for a 14-7 lead with 48 seconds left until halftime.
Brian Robinson capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to finally get Bama on the board with 2:52 left in the second quarter.
Alabama struggled mightily in the first half, especially on offense. Center Darrian Dalcourt left with an apparent left ankle injury in the first quarter and the Crimson Tide had to shuffle their line with Chris Owens moving from right tackle to center. LSU took advantage, pressuring Young several times.
LSU elected to kick off to Alabama to start the game and the risk paid off as the initial Crimson Tide drive ended when Reichard’s 49-yard field goal try was short, bouncing off of the crossbar. Then the Tigers converted a fake punt on 4th down to keep the ball, leading to Johnson’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Brian Thomas Jr. for a 7-0 lead.